Oh to Travel on Gravel in the Klein Karoo

Road tripping is definitely part of what an adventure travel blogger does. Give me the gravel to travel on and I’m there!

Once again I had to head to the mountain scapes
of the Klein Karoo and we started out our adventure journey just outside the outskirts of Mosselbay.

It’s here you’ll find the sign Herbetsdale, turn right and head towards the small hamlet placed in the folds of the foothills before you wind your way through Cloetes pass. The next stretch of red road follows the Langeberg mountains and guides you gentle towards the great Gourtiz River.

We dance with dust devils, watch the ostriches parade their feathers and hear the “croo croo” of the Blue Cranes while they clump together and feed on what ever the veld has to offer. I take in a deep breath of the dry air, look admirably over the semi arid landscape, it definitely bares its own beauty, this solace playground of earthly tones.

The cross over the Gouritz River is dry, and river bed is packed with thristy stones that hasn’t seen a drop of water for a long while, it reaches out into the stone abyss on both sides and I mesmerizingly stare out and imagine it in flood, it must be quite a magnificent sight. In the meantime it lies and waits patiently for the moisture to arrive.

The next climb is into the mountain section, the reds of Rooiberg. The slatety gravel roads wind towards the small town of Van Wyks Dorp, we skip past it and head to our Olive farm homestead that is laid out on the rocky slopes of this hilly destination and our accommodation for tonight. Later that evening we soaked in the quiet surroundings, lit a fire and cracked open a bottle of wine. This is always soul food, this is escapism at its best.

The new day arrives, Autum delivers another crisp clear morning and the warm light filters its way into every corner of the small stone cottage. Lazily we gather our backpacks and head to the kloof for a morning of exploration between the cliff faces. We follow the trickle of mountain water trailing among the rocks and discover lush green spots hidden far from the rest of the world. Later that morning as we stumbled out of the kloof, hot, sweaty and happy, breathing in the herb filled air of this sun baked land it made us appreciate the magnitude this jagged landscape that has been carved out in time.

A quick shower and a little freshing up is next, our curious wanderlust has not been depleted and it was time to ramble into town…

We headed back to the small “dorpie” of Van Wyks dorp. With the likes of the “Van Wyks dorp mall” and many of the other quirky stops. Indulging in the quaint little shops, sites and galleries the town has to offer, before finding ourselves in a charming little pub called Spekboom with friendly folk and excellent country side hospitality. It was just on the beer o’clock hour and time to quench our thirsts.

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The afternoon cools down as the day light dissipates into another soft sunset over the valley. Tomorrow we will be heading over the mountains and explore new passes, with this in mind, we light another fire, crack open a bottle of wine and soak up the natural beauty of the Karoo boime.

Next day….

Dawn, its time to pack up and go. With the promise of the new days discovery ahead of us we enthusiastically pack, slam a road trip breakfast together and head out. The dust track works its way up the mountain range of the Rooiberg and slowly we climb towards the lookout point of these majestic earth formations. Its alluring curves pleasing the senses of our minds, how awesome.

Eventually we leave the mountain range behind and the flat landscape opens up as we point the nose of our vehicle in the direction of Calitzdorp for a much needed cup of java and a stretch. Next up, the Groenfontein road that edges its way along the Nels River. The scenic route has a lot to offer the day traveller and our stops included a look over the very empty Calitzdorp Dam, a make shift drive inn, Peter Bayly’s wine farm and a taste of the local nectar he produces, the karoo gallery of Robert Young where he captures the emotions of people in his very visual storytelling photos. The meander ended with a journey past the Redstone Hills so elegantly placed among the foothills of Swartberg Mountians in arid Klein Karoo.

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It’s time to get back to the tar road and head home. Exhausted and happy we wind our way back to the cool coastal stretch of the Garden Route. The sun sinks into the west of land and the earth cools down gently.

I’ll be back for more adventures, for there is always a new a discovery to be made on the other side the Outeniqua Mountains and it’s Klein Karoo

Knysna’s Need for Speed

Many would ask..a travel blogger at a motor sport event ? But being a dedicated adventurer and a Garden Route girl, this is part of my many tourism activities in the area and it was time to go and see what the fuss was all about. The first day of arriving at the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb was pretty daunting. Mostly guys, motor journos with huge cameras, the rush of engines revving and you could almost smell the testosterone in the air.

“Ok, I’m here, now what?” My mind queried me. So I do what I always do, I shut down the noise in my head. Slowly, I started moving along the pit lane and watched. Step by step the air of anticipation started to swirl around me , it’s intoxicating, you breath in the fumes of fuel and the energy sizzles in your vains as you feel the trembling mechanics rhythm its way into your body. I suddenly felt alive…

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It took me at least half an hour to even think, never mind touch my camera, as I was absorbing this new found vibe. I obeserved the intensity of each team, facial expressions, hands in every where and the raw mechanics of the metal passion. This is not just racing, this is pure love and I get it.

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The momentum went from inwards to outwards as cars where repositioned from their cosy hubs to the pit lane. The game was on, the time has drawn near for man and machine to come together and give all they got to love of the sport. Engines pitched, rubber spun as each competitor was lined up and fingered a count down, the flag flick flacked once and the world went from a mere moment in time to rush hour in a heart beat. It has begun..

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Each day became a height of excitement and the euphoria of Jaguar Simola Hillclimb was my reality. I took in the moments, felt the rush, craved more with each day and my camera was working over time. Closer, faster, more intensity; was fast becoming part of me. Feeling each car fly by me and the thrill of it’s roar stays behind and lingers like lost caress.

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By the time the weekend wound down and the hype of the wins, losses, broken engines, bruised egos and money spent, I felt like I hit the blues. Drained by the stimulation reaching its peak and of adrenaline slug that was plugged so quickly. It was over…

A fleeting adventure that will stay with me. I still sit and explore my mind of moments on track, the people the spectators and the competitors. I remember the smiles, the conversations and sharing of excitement. As a whole, this is not about a winner, it’s about a culture, a passion and the pleasure it so overwhelmingly delivers. You truely rocked my world. Thank you!!

www.jaguar.co.za