Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cross country adventure on a GS - continued

Last week I posted about the first two days of our bike trip to the Southern Cape while on holiday in May. You can read about this here if you wish.   After breakfast at the gracious Queens Hotel in Oudtshoorn, we took the Route 62 on the next leg of our journey.

Route 62 which evokes comparisons with the legendary Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles — starts from just outside Cape Town and runs to the city of Port Elizabeth.

It's an area of magnificent landscapes and towering cliffs, crystal clear streams and an abundance of trees and indigenous flora - all contribute to make Paarl, Wellington, the Breede River Valley, Klein Karoo and Langkloof some of South Africa's most diverse regions.

The ever changing colours of the majestic mountains, scenic passes, rivers, vineyards and orchards, as well as the multitude of attractions, will offer you an unforgettable adventure - whether this is in the physical sense or simply a kaleidoscope of scenic tranquility.

Cape Route 62 takes you along the longest wine route in the Western Cape if not the whole world. Innovation and pride, combined with a terrain and mild climate that are harmoniously balanced, results in the prominence of the outstanding wines on Cape Route 62.

The easily accesible towns, nestled along the valleys, all offer ample opportunity for discovery. From visits to wineries and game reserves, tribal art, cultural tours, museums and for the more adventurous: hiking trails and mountain climbing, 4x4 routes, canoeing, horse riding, even ostrich riding, fishing and caving.

This trip, however, we didn't do the Wine - or Garden Route. We turned onto Route 62 just after Oudtshoorn and rode through scenic towns, vineyards and fruit farms, breathtaking mountains and floral feasts.

Calitzdorp is surrounded by three moountain ranges which adds to the tranquility and peace of this little Karoo town

Our first stop was Calitzdorp. This typical Karoo town, is reknowned producing some of the country's best port wines. The town has many other attractions in and around it, not least the Dutch Reformed Church where we stopped that day for a photo session. Soon a man drove up in his Mitsubishi and greeted Grant. (This is what I love about biking; people often approach to look at the bike, to enquire about your trip and you end up having a chat) While I took photos, Grant and Jaco  - they'd introduced themselves by this time - had swapped cell numbers. Jaco also owned an off-road motorcycle and he and Grant arranged that we meet up with him on a future trip.
The Dutch Reformed Church, Calitzdorp

On a previous trip, we stayed over in Calitzdorp. That night I atttended an organ recital in the church above. The organist,  Noel-Jean Creil, is a fine musician and personality in his own right. The organ too, is a famous instrument, renowned for its size and sound and is the biggest organ in the region.  If you are in Calitzdorp of an evening and enjoy this type of music,  every weekday evening at 18h00, a free recital of organ music is given in the church itself. Just walk in and take a pew. Highly recommended.

From Calitzdorp we headed southwest to Barrydale, our stop for the night.

After off-loading our luggage at Bikers B&B where we'd spend the night, we rode the Tradouw Pass across the Langeberg Mountains to Swellendam. We 'd arranged to meet up and have coffee with Bertus' wife, Baka. Readers may remember that during May, Bertus was doing maintenance and repair work for Grant in Kenya. Bertus also took care of Ginger by staying in our house while we were on leave.
Tradouw Pass across the Langeberg Mountains between Barrydale and Swellendam

Cape Route 62, also known as the Mountain Route, offers the visitor range upon range of striking mountain edifices. Andrew Bain and his son, Thomas Bain were the engineers of several mountain passes on this route. However, Tradouw pass across the Langeberg Mountains, between Barrydale and Swellendam, is one of my favourites.  

Andrew Bains and his son, Thomas built this (one of many) passes with the help of convict gangs. Back-breaking work but today the results are enjoyed by travellers, tourists and tradespeople alike

We had a lovely cup of coffee and chat with Baka and their son, who's in his final year of school. Baka wanted to know how her husband was, living and working (temorarily) so far from home. I forgot to take a photo of our group but afterwards snapped the bike with the Dutch Reformed Church in the background. It was two days before the municipal elections so party boards were displayed all over

The Country Pumpkin Restaurant, Barrydale on Route 62

Very good friends of ours, Dereck and Lesley own the Country Pumpkin Restaurant in Barrydale which serves breakfast, lunch and morning and afternoon teas,  every day of the week, closing at 5. We stayed the night in the affordable Bikers B&B behind the restaurant and that evening Dereck and Lesley treated us to pizzas at a nearby diner.

Dereck, Grant, Jo and Lesley at a pizzeria in Barrydale. Dereck and Lesley toured the USA on a Harley last year taking in the Sturgis Rally 70th Anniversary in South Dakota. Dereck could not stop talking about the wonderful people of America  
The moon rises over Barrydale

Full moon on a winter's night in the Karoo

What make Cape Route 62 really special, is the calm and peace that it offers travellers.

The route is safe so adventurers need not be concerned about their personal security. The people on Cape Route 62 is another alluring attraction. They are friendly and eager to both assist and entertain passing travellers.

The ever changing colours of the majestic mountains, scenic passes, rivers, vineyards and orchards, as well as the multitude of attractions, will offer you an unforgettable adventure - whether this is in the physical sense or simply a kaleidoscope of scenic tranquility.

Next morning, (Tuesday) due to time constraints - we were flying back to Kenya on Sunday and had lots to arrange,  and also because of a cold front warning - we packed up and started on our way home.

We hit the cold front within the first 50kms of the trip. We rode through rain, sleet, wind and more rain. At one point Grant turned off towards the coast (many kilometers to the east) and Cradock but I cannot remember the route. I was too busy huddling into his back trying to protect myself from the cold!

The beautifully furnished master bedroom at Die Pondokie. A warm welcome after seven hours motorcycling in the winter cold and rain

We drove into Hoffmeyer at 4.30, desperately in search of a hot shower and a comfortable bed for the night. We found it. A fully furnished guest house called Die Pondokkie ("The Hut") owned by congenial hosts Derek and Joey.

Relaxing in the lounge of the spacious guest house

The next day dawned sunny and clear; a weather phenomena which is always the bikers' delight! After breakfast, we loaded the bike and headed for home. We wanted to get back to Marquard in time to vote in the municipal elections.

Near Steynsberg we passed the well-known mountains called Teebus and Koffiebus. "Bus" (pronounced "biss") was the Dutch name for a pot . I can imagine how the old Voortrekkers/pioneers of the nineteenth century stopped their oxwagons on these plains and looked across at these two shapes while brewing their coffee on the fire. Hence the quaint names! The modern - day South African trekker, er biker didn't stop and his pillion took the photo (below) at speed.

Appropriately named Teebus and Koffiebus mountains

We stopped on the bridge which borders the Eastern Cape and the Free State.  The D.H. Steyn Bridge or Hennie Steyn Bridge is a beautiful arched structure near the town of Bethulie, it is a combined road and rail bridge which spans the Orange River just outside Bethulie. It is 1,152 km (1,260 yds) long, and 51.5m high making it the longest bridge in South Africa. It is also claimed to be the longest in the southern hemisphere.

Bikers' stop on the Hennie Steyn Bridge near Bethulie
Shooting from the bridge was another photo opportunity. I just loved the reflections of the bushes lining the banks

Grant promised to stop for coffee to warm us in Bethulie. When we arrived in the town, though, everything was closed. Due to the voting across the country, that day was a public holiday.
The Old Car Pub and Grill, Bethulie

We found one establishment open - the Old Car Pub and Grill. It was only after the proprietor had served us each with a cup of coffee on the terrace behind the pub, that we found out they'd only come in to clean up after the night before. When Grant asked for the bill, the owner said: It 's on the house, I'm also a biker!
An interesting display of car number plates on an exterior wall of the pub

By midday we were in Bloemfontein and enjoying a cup of tea and apple tart at the Wimpy and then it was the final hour's ride home to Marquard. 

We rode into our home town, Marquard at 3.30 on Wednesday afternoon. We stopped at the Town Hall to cast our votes. By 4pm we'd unloaded our bike at home and were relaxing after another satisfying motorbike trip in South Africa.

Shadow making sure I don't leave the house without him ever again!
For more of other people's worlds, click here


  1. What a great ride in the mountains. Next time I'd like to take the Mt Route. Maybe a big loop so I can do the Garden Route again too.

  2. Thanks for the excellent sightseeing tour through SA ! What a wonderful trip.
    Tomorrow (wednesday at 8am) I am off to Istambul ! I will post from there !(if internet works of course, lol )

  3. Jo, what a great post on your Rt 62 ride. I loved all the mountain scenery. And the people do all seem very nice along the way. The last bedroom you stayed is gorgeous. I am sure your kittie Shadow is happy you are home.

  4. What a wonderful excursion! You and Grant do so many things together, you certainly go for life quality whenever you can!!! Thanks for bringing us along!

  5. Wow, Jo, what a wonderful trip! It reminds me of driving through British Columbia, my home province, which consists of range upon range of mountains with valleys, lakes and rivers in between. It's very safe to drive if you're careful, and the scenery is spectacular.
    Really enjoyed traveling with you and Grant through South Africa.
    Luv — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  6. What a WONDERFUL ride! I am now properly tired and need to go and make myself a burger, grab a coke, and rest up a bit.

    After much analysis over the past two days, I think I have discovered why your blogs were not appearing on my "dashboard". I had signed up to follow you on a blog that I seldom go to (My "African Interests" blog). I loved living in Kenya and visiting South Africa - and 30 other countries on the continent. Still love reading anything about Africa.

  7. What a WONDERFUL trip, Jo! I absolutely loved seeing all your photographs and reading your comprehensive descriptions. That part of SA is SO captivating. It makes me want to go exploring again, too!

  8. Thank you Jo for your comprehensive tour of your beautiful country. I have enjoyed all your adventures immensely.

    God bless all your activities.

  9. That was a wonderful tour, Jo,...informative and beautiful. I like the photos of the beautifully decorated bedrooms at the various guest houses. I'm getting a sense of the widely varying countryside in SA!


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo