For this years annual trek to the Cape, I decided to make a meal of the back roads, through the Nortnen Cape, Western Karoo.
This is a brief summary.
We set off from Jhb on the N12 towards Wolmaranstad, then turned off to drive via Schweizer Reneke, then onto Jan Kempdorp.
Only from Jan Kempdork onwards, we hit the first dirt driving via Spitskop dam towards Delportshoop.
Then over Schmidtsdrift towards our first night's stay, near Campbell.
Campell has one big church, a police station and a few old houses.
We stayed at the Wildspan Gasteplaas. The hosts welcomed us with a bottle of sweet wine and a bottle of Coke!
Generally we found the hospitality on this trip to be exceptional. More on that later.
The firewood smelled like it was more suited for furniture and, as was for the drinks, on the house.http://www.wildspanguestfarm.co.za
The next day we set off towards Williston. This required 10 hours in the car, which is why I invested in a proper entertainment system for the kids before we left.
Between every movie they had to complete a set of 10 Sudokus. The degree of difficulty depended on their respective ages.
From Campbell, we headed for Griekwastad, then South towards Prieska, via Niekerkshoop.
The shop pictured below is next to the courthouse where the infamous Steenkamp family murder trial took place.
On lunch at Prieska I met a farmer with a 2005 4.8 GRX for sale. He will still advertise on this form. It had only done about 100k, and he only wants to sell it due to it not being used enough.
From Prieska we headed for "Vanwyksvlei". One of many half deserted towns. Half way between Prieska and Vanwyksvlei are the Copperton Solar panels. A gazzilion solar panels.
From Vanwyksvlei we took a turn at a farm gate (since the GPS told us we could. That was my story anyway, in case we were approached by an angry farmer). The next two hours required Swambo and me taking turns opening farm gates on a "tweespoor" path until we reached a road again that had a number! This was fun. Kids enjoyed the rooftop views too. On the way we found many farms that looked active. I.e. many sheep, and working windpumps, but where the farm houses are closed down and deserted. This we later learned is due to the farmers giving up their land, or renting it out to allow other farmers to farm with greater economies of scale. This also in part explains why many of the smaller towns are becoming increasingly deserted (such as Niekerkshoop and Vanwyksvlei), while some of the bigger towns flourish (like Prieska and Williston). It is part of a consolidation process happening.
Another interesting phenomena is the progress of the SKA, with Williston at its centre. These guys, with international funding and government support, are searching for a Big Bang in space. In doing so they are taking up more and more farm land at a set "market price" which the farmer by law HAVE to accept. This leads to greater uncertainty and stifles infrastructure maintenance on the farms in this area. Apparently, in search of this big bang, they need total silence. All farm fences need to the taken down. Definitely no driving will be allowed in this area (certainly not in a V8). It may therefore be the first and last time we are able to drive this route.
Our stay at the guest farm near WIlliston included dinner and breakfast. Dinner was an "eat as much as you like" skaap tjoppies, ribs and kebabs special. They only do the banting diet in the evenings apparently. For 5 people, bed, breakfast and dinner cost us R1,100. They even filled their farm pool with water, just for us. I am yet to find better value for money.
The Williston guest farm is called Rietvlei. There is no website and no web-based advertising. But I can give direct contact details if anyone is interested.