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Posted on: Thursday, 17 January 2013

Cape Town to Oudtshoorn – Route 62 in winter is simply the cat’s whiskers

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Magnificent Route 62

Magnificent Route 62

Route 62, marketed as the longest wine route in the world, runs from Cape  Town via Worcester, Montagu, Oudtshoorn and the Langkloof right the way to Port Elizabeth. All 850 kms of it. But one seldom drives it in its entirety, and so the route tends to be broken up into more manageable chunks:

Cape Town to Ceres – 150km (via Paarl, Tulbagh, Wolseley)
Cape Town to Worcester – 96km
Cape Town to Montagu – 200km (via Paarl, Worcester, Robertson, Ashton)

and so on…

We do Cape Town to Oudtshoorn. It’s 480km via Paarl, Worcester, Robertson, Montagu, Barrydale, Ladismith and Calitzdorp. And we do it in two days. Admittedly ours is an exceptionally quick there-and-back because we’re singing at the Klassique (the annual KKK that takes place in August in Oudtshoorn).

Wonderful Worcester

Wonderful Worcester

But we do it in a luxury bus with vast windows, and plenty of pit stops that include venturing into local curio shops (and the odd liquor store) to  pick up gifts for family and friends, so it’s akin to the average road trip. And the views from the windows are so incredible that if you can, I would encourage everyone to travel Route 62 in similar fashion.

The mountain passes and the landscape between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn are awe-inspiring during winter – snow-capped mountains, saturated green pastures due to rain, and the kind of light that one usually only identifies with twilight or sunrise. The sights from our window are nothing short of wondrous.

Below are a few of the highlights you can expect en route.

Attractions and towns between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn on Route 62:

Du Toitskloof Pass

Du Toitskloof Pass

Worcester Du Toitskloof Pass, Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden
Worcester is on the other side of the Huguenot Tunnel, which passes through Du Toitskloof Pass. Just about everyone uses it as a pitstop, as there is a large petrol garage here. If you can, drive over the Du Toitskloof Pass rather than take the tunnel. You may add 11km to your journey, but you’ll gain some pretty impressive scenery. The Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in Roux Road is well worth a stop.

Robertson – Soekershof Maze, Klaasvoogds Game Reserve and the Klippies Brandy distillery
Robertson is the first town you’ll pass after taking the R60 from Worcester. The region is all about wine and fruit farming. Whilst here try to take the Breedekloof Wine Route, visit Klaasvoogds Game Reserve just outside the town, Soekershof Maze (cactus heaven), and the take a tour of the Klipdrift brandy distillery.

Joubert House

Joubert House

Montagu – Joubert House, the Village Market, the Nature Garden
Montagu, on the other side of yet another mountain pass, is very pretty – filled with white washed, thatched roofed cottages and trailing rose bushes. Walk through town as part of your visit. The Nature Garden, on the east end of Van Riebeeck Street, is a must do as is Joubert House, which has a beautiful garden of its own. The Village Market, held every Saturday morning, is where you’ll meet the locals, or visit all the shops on Lang Street.

Barrydale – Ronnies Sex Shop, Warmwaterberg Spa, and the Heritage Garden
Ronnie’s Sex Shop, for those who’ve heard of it,  is not a sex shop but a pub. It’s also not in picturesque Barrydale, but en route to Ladismith – just when you think you won’t find it – in the middle of the Little Karoo. Barrydale is a beautiful space in which to while away a few days. The Warmwaterberg spa is just outside town and the Heritage Garden at Barrydale Wine Cellar is a must to understand the uniqueness of the region’s flora.

Seweweekspoort Pass

Seweweekspoort Pass

Zoar – the Lutheran Church and the Little Karoo Mermaid Trail
Zoar might have been one of the five cities of Jordan in Genesis but in the Karoo it’s only a tiny run-down mission village, close to another similar village called Amalienstein, set off R62. What it does have to entice you to stop is a photographic Lutheran Church and the Little Karoo Mermaid Trail (mermaids in the Karoo?!). 250 million years ago, this part of the Karoo was under the sea. A team of filmmakers recently compiled a self-drive guide on this theme, which you’ll find at bookshops and tourism offices on Route 62.

Ladismith – Ladismith Cheese Factory, Touwsberg Nature Reserve and Seweweekspoort
Ladismith, aside from the beautiful Otto Hager church on South Street, does not have a lot to attract the day visitor. Come and stay here for a few days though if you’re someone who loves hiking, mountaineering, beautiful drives and day trips. The two major employers in town are the cheese factories, which you can visit. Otherwise drive the Seweweekspoort (incredible), the Hoeko valley and the Bosluiskloof Pass. And hike Towerkop.

The Donkey Trail

The Donkey Trail

Calitzdorp – Hennie Cloete’s Succulent Garden, the Donkey Trail and port at the local liquor store
Calitzdorp, at face value, does not look like much. But the group rush out of the bus with gusto only to divest the local liquor store on the main road of all of his port – they claim it’s the best spot en route to get it (and who am I to argue). A stop in the town must include Hennie Cloete’s Succulent Garden, whilst the Donkey Trail follows the original donkey path that before 1963 was the only way to reach Die Hel in the Gamkaskloof.

Oudtshoorn – ostriches, art, the Cango Caves and KKNK
The wide streets and beautiful Victorian architecture of Oudtshoorn is like a breath of fresh air. Explore town by foot during the KKNK weekend (annually in August) and you’ll uncover art galleries, little restaurants and vibrant ostrich feather dusters for sale right outside the CP Nell Museum. Visit the Cango Caves on a tour and pencil in next year’s KKNK – music, wine and art in the Klein Karoo.

Before everything is booked up make sure you book one of these great Oudtshoorn Hotels or Oudtshoorn Guest Houses for the KKNK otherwise book into a Calitzdorp Bed and Breakfast one of the closest towns to Oudtshoorn.

Useful Links:

Karoo Accommodation
Karoo Hotels
Western Cape Accommodation

Wanda Coustas


Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

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