Uniondale to Patensie – below the Baviaans
Did you know?
Kareedouw displays a statue of an axe-wielding woodcutter to celebrate its local forestry industry.
The less-travelled part of Route 62 lies in the Eastern Cape, just south of the famous Baviaanskloof, part of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site.
This great road trip is, really, all about the people and the mountain setting they live in.
Beginning at Uniondale, we will slowly meander down Route 62, cross the N2 near Humansdorp and drive north on the R330 to villages like Hankey, Patensie and Loerie. Along the way, we will skirt forests, cross rivers and go through little settlements with their own ways of life. It will feel, at times, like a Hobbit’s journey because of the stunning natural surrounds and the friendliness of the people who live there.
Uniondale, where a well-known ‘ghost’ is said to wander the roads, lies tucked into the Kamanassie and Kouga mountains, and is an old-time Little Karoo town that could be an outtake from the 1950s. It has a peaceful pace and a good infrastructure of guest houses, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, and even a dinner theatre.
One of the big outdoor attractions around Uniondale is to go walking in the Kamanassie mountains with a guide in search of ancient San rock paintings.
After a day spent exploring the area and staying overnight, we leave Uniondale and continue east on the R62. We drive to Joubertina, known as the ‘Big Apple’ of Route 62 because of the local apple-farming operations.
We lunch at a place called The Sweaty Dutchman in Kareedouw, 45km east of Joubertina. The iconic product of this town is a drink called karrie – honey beer. This delicious drink was first made by the Khoikhoi people, who found the succulent karee tree roots high up in the mountains. Every March there’s a Karrie Festival in Kareedouw, where this drink is brewed and celebrated.
The local church steeple proudly displays a copper rooster, and the butcher of Kareedouw unashamedly claims to make the finest boerewors (sausage) in all of South Africa.
The next morning at the town of Loerie, we find ourselves deep in citrus country under the Cockscomb peak of the Groot Winterberg. If you’re into locomotives, then Loerie will interest you, in particular the turntable used to swivel a 60-ton locomotive through 180 degrees.
We lunch at the Koeke Pan farm stall on the way to Hankey, where we pay tribute to the late Saartjie Baartman (a Khoikhoi woman exhibited as a freak attraction in Europe in the 19th century), whose memorial stands on a hill overlooking the town. Baartman was an exhibition item in Europe until her remains were finally returned to South Africa in 2002.
We visit a craft project in the local township, where indigenous jewellery is being made. Hankey is also nationally famous for its traditional dance and theatre groups, and performance art based on Khoikhoi culture.
Over in Patensie, we indulge ourselves at the Tolbos farm stall, which is good restaurant and tourism information centre. The cakes are locally produced and delicious, so tuck in.
That night we sleep in the Baviaanskloof in one of the old converted farmhouses, cook up a storm on the outside braai and relish all the different fruits and delicacies we bought along the way. With maybe a touch of honey beer to lighten up the evening...
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel : +27 (0)44 752 1266
Tel: +27 (0)44 923 1702
Gamtoos Tourism (Hankey, Patensie)
Tel: +27 (0)42 283 0437
Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)43 742 4450
How to get here
Uniondale lies approx. 100km north-east of George – take the N12 and then follow the signs to the N9. Uniondale lies off the N9.
Best time to visit
This route is a year-round destination.
Around the area
There are always tours available into the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area.
You’ll want to hire a car in George or Port Elizabeth, which gives you lots of travelling freedom in terms of routes and time.
What will it cost
Self-catering accommodation should cost you no more than about R250 per person, per night.
Length of stay
Set aside two or three nights for this trip.
What to pack
Always pack something for a chilly evening.
Where to stay
Overnight lodgings in Uniondale, Kareedouw and near Patensie in the Baviaanskloof are recommended.
What to eat
The many farm stalls in the area offer a wide range of tasty treats, including some fine cuts of biltong.
Check the listed websites for festivals along the way during your visit.
Try some honey beer at one of the farm stalls along the way.