THE COAST TO KAROO AND BACK ROUTE

This is a seven to ten day route incorporating the Southern Cape coastline and all the mountain ranges in the area - We follow little known gravel roads which can include various 4x4 trails, but these can be avoided.

DAY ONE:

The route starts at the Malgas Pont on the Breederiver. There are camping sites, houseboats and inexpensive hotel accommodation at Malgas hotel at 028-542 1049 or info@malgashotel.co.za. Travel over the Pont and take the R324 to Witsand. Thirteen km from Malgas is a very good guest house on the farm Waterkloof - 028-722 1811 where one can take a ride around the farm on a pony cart to view the largest blue crane flock in the area or the rare Cape vultures. At Witsand one can undertake the Ostrich Eco 4x4 route which criss crosses the Slangriver with spectacular scenery, vegetation and a breeding pair of Fish Eagles. There is a campsite on the 4x4 trail. The owner Piet Uys - 028-537 1942, also has a thatched roof self catering chalet at Witsands for those who do not want to camp. From Witsands the route follows the R322 to Westfield 4x4 route. This is a dune route with beautiful views of the bay and pristine dune fynbos vegetation. They also offer self catering accommodation in timber chalets on the farm - Guy Moodie - 028-537 1911. Take the gravel turnoff to Vermaaklikheid (12km from Witsands on the R322 to Puntjie to view the original kapstyl huisies). We then proceed along the Blombos coastline to overnight at Jongensfontein Caravan Park and chalets - 028-754 8015. Alternatively one an continue to Stilbay to overnight at Hold All, a guest house on the beach with unique features and a unique owner Gerrit Mars, a doctor who dropped out to become a fisherman, surfer and conservationist - brendle@mweb.co.za or gerritmars@mweb.co.za.

DAY TWO:

We visit the coastal reserve to view the original fish traps, feed the eels at Palingoat and visit an olive farm to purchase various olive products. We then take the R305 for approximately 4km after the bridge and turn right at the sign Melkhoutfontein where one can visit the Soete inval Botanical Garden and Soete Arbeid Craft Workshop - 028-754 3250. From here we follow the coastline passed Ystervarkpunt and Reins Nature Reserve to Gouritzmond. There is an option to visit Canca Fynbos 4x4 Route with magnificent views and fynbos. They also have self catering chalets and camping facilities - Kippie Horn - 028-745 3332. From Gouritzmond we continue to Vleesbaai and undertake the spectacular Vleesbaai Dune Route - Riekie van Rensburg - 044-699 1107. Thereafter we return to Kanon to overnight at the Canon Valley Estate - Jan or Belinda Naude - 044-695 4735 or 082 493 9750. This must be the most under marketed coastal resort in South Africa, and certainly has a wow factor for its uniqueness, and 6km private beach. They offer reasonably priced accommodation and camping.

DAY THREE:

The route then follows the Gouritzriver passed Voelvlei to the N2. Turn left over the Gouritzriver bridge and take the first unmarked turnoff to your right and follow the Gouritzriver passed Aloe Guest House, Lazarus Game Farm and Die Poort to Jakkalsvlei Wine Estate - Jannie Jonker - 028-735 2102, to taste their award winning wines and cheese platter and then onto Herbertsdale. From Herbertsdale we enter the Cloetes Pass and stop off at Dwarsrivier Country Getaway, a working macadamia farm, where Martin and Jenny Jeken - 044-651 1611, take us on a short tour to taste various macadamia products. They also have accommodation and a bush pub. Once over the Cloete Pass, and passed the old Boer War Forts. We turn right at the first farm on your right and follow a section of the oxwagon trail passed the ruins of the old village Woeska to overnight at Bonniedale Holiday Farm, where there is various accommodation and camping options - Nico and Danette Hesterman - 044-695 3175, www.bonniedale.com.

DAY FOUR:

The route then enters the Cape Natures Attaquaskloof Nature Reserve and goes over the historical Oxwagon Pass (a national monument) passed tollhouses, old boer war forts and the ruins of an old hotel to Safraans Rivier to undertake a section of the Zebraskop 4x4 Route through the Zebraskop Private Game Reserve - Gert or Ella Laubscher - 044-272 7133. We then proceed for a short distance to Minwater Eco Adventures 4x4 Trail for a guided succulent Karoo vegetation Tour by owner, Louis Jordaan - 044-279 1285. The route then passes through Volmoed to Grundheim Wine Cellars - 044-272 6927, to taste a variety of wines, unique witblits and liquors. Their brandy is in my opinion the best in the country. From Grundheim we follow the gravel roads along the northern boundary of the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve to overnight at Cape Natures Tierkloof tented camp - Tom Barry - 044-213 3367, and a 4x4 trip to the top of the Gamkaberg and the Oukraal camp site.

DAY FIVE:

The route then passes the Calitzdorp Spa - 044-213 3371, and over the Rooiberg Pass to Van Wyksdorp, along the Rooiberge to the R62. It then crosses the R62 and rounds the western end of the Swartberg mountains and enters one of the most scenic valleys in the southern Cape, Vleiland, between the Elandsberge and the northern slopes of the Swartberge. After the turnoff to Seweweekspoort, the route goes down the Boschluys Kloof Pass to the Gamka Dam to overnight at the 4 Star Boschluyskloof Lodge - 023-581 5046. The following day we follow the track used by the Gamkaskloowers to what they call 'The Ladder', to view "Die Hel" from the western side, which is far more spectacular than the view from the normal eastern entry. From Boschluyskloof we pass through Seweweekspoort to the R62 and down the Huisrivier Pass. At the bottom of the pass we turn left into Matjiesvlei to where the Gamkariver enters the Little Karoo. Here Bennie and Selma Nel - 044-213 3756, have various accommodation options and camping sites as well as the Bojaankop 4x4 Route. After returning to the R62 and Calitzdorp, the route follows the southern slopes of the Swartberge, passed Groenfontein to overnight at Kruisrivier Guest Farm - Mandie Strydom - 044-2133788.

DAY SIX:

The following day we travel over the Swartberg pass to Prince Albert. The route then follows the northern slopes of the Swartberg, through Meiringspoort to De Rust. 7km outside De Rust is a unique Guest House, Die Gat Guesthouse, Susanna and Anton Schoeman. This is a national monument dating back to the 1800's. An authentic Oxwagon en-suite is something to experience. The route then follows the Olifants River in an easterly direction to Toorwater (a once beautiful hot springs resort that has gone to rack and ruin) and onto Uniondale and the Prince Alfred Pass to De Vlugt to overnight at Outeniqua Trout Lodge - Naomi and Ingo - 044-752 3140.

DAY SEVEN:

From De Vlugt the route can continue to Knysna via the Prince Alfred Pass or in a westerly direction on the R62 to Louvain Guest Farm - Nico Bester - 044-888 1726 or 083 287 6927. To undertake the Duiwelskop 4x4 Trail over the old oxwagon trail to Bergplaas and Wilderness.

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