Friday, 29 April 2016

South Africa, February 2016 part 2.

We had arranged to take a road trip into the Little Karoo, via Swellendam and Oudtshoorn with our friends, They then returned to their house & we went to the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. An incredible drive through landscape neither of us had seen the like of before. We included a trip to Prince Albert over the Swartberg Pass which must be one of the world's great drives.

The view from the terrace for breakfast, overlooking Gordon's Bay

We stayed a night in Swellendam and this Bourganvillia was outside our
cottage. As it was well into their summer there were not too many flowers
to be seen but this was impressive

Knowing how he likes hydrants, this one is for Ian Wilson!

A very typical gum tree bark.

Not a bad backdrop to a house! This is Swellendam. It seems incredible
 how green the mountain tops are in such a hot climate and this was
after an exceptionally dry summer.

We drove over Tradouw's Pass and went down into the Little Karoo and
Barrydale. A fascinating, small town on route  62 which  I do not think has
changed in decades. 

On the outskirts of Barrydale, on the main route 62 road is the charmingly
 named cafe "Diesel & Creme". A converted garage it oozes character
and offers customers some very innovative and tasty fruit cocktails

A fascinating wine producer, specialising in sweet wines, also had a small shop selling local foods - a magnet for Kate & Gill.

You cannot go all this way and not try the wines!

The Swartberg Pass is an impressive drive, 27km in all, unmade, very poor
 condition in places, steep inclines but sensational views and scenery,
especially on the north side.

Within sight of the top is this small area where you can stop and there were three
cyclists who had just spent nearly 4 hours cycling up the 4500 plus
feet of the climb. They looked and sounded quite fresh after the climb. Even at this height is was still nearly 30 deg C. 

The view looking south from near the summit (there is nowhere to stop
at the highest point). Just two more mountain ranges stretching into the

A view looking back showing the road coming up the mountain.

Some of the rocks on the north side are very impressive and have the richest
terracotta colour I have ever seen. This doesn't show the size very well.

Looking down at the road we will take. To give an idea of the scale, if you look
carefully you can just see a car on the track above the boulder towards the
left of the image.

This view gives some idea of the landscape in the more cultivated parts of
the Little Karoo - scrubland, although there are olive trees here. 40 deg C
when this was taken.

We did a loop over the pass to Prince Albert and then back on an ordinary
road and even here the scenery was spectacular. The main roads are
good with little traffic. Driving is a pleasure. 

We stayed in the game reserve in a tent by the river - admittedly a
posh tent, with outside shower and the most incredible noise from all
the animals and insects after dark. We had dinner in the main
building which had a log fire. It was so inviting Gilly checked out the
area on her iPad for some time sat in front of the fire.

More to follow