Discover the tough, rugged terrains of Africa...challenge accepted ?
Your adventure starts with collecting your double cab bakkie at Cape Town Airport and then spending two nights at Arumvale Country House in Swellendam. From there, you start your off-road adventure in earnest, heading to the western side of South Africa’s largest wilderness reserve, the Baviaanskloof, before driving on into the heart of the wilderness at Sederkloof Lodge.
After two nights there, you will emerge and travel towards the cape of St. Francis for two nights at the Dune Ridge Lodge for sun and sand and swimming pools. You’ll then venture briefly into the Eastern Cape for two nights at Sibuya, before turning back into the Western Cape for two nights on the farm with Colleen and Clive at Redford House.
There’s a brief overnight in Montagu (and a few mountain passes nearby there too) before returning your car and spending two nights enjoying the city at Parker Cottage, Cape Town. On your last day, to round things off beautifully, we’ve arranged a lunch at Rust en Vrede wine estate before your flight home from Cape Town International.
We will personally be on hand to meet you from the flight and will take you across to ensure smooth collection of your rental car. If you’d like to rent a GPS unit, please ask at the counter for one.Once the car is checked, paper work done and loaded, you’re ready to roll!
Arumvale Country House
Swellendam, where Arumvale is located, is an old town by South African standards, officially separated from the Cape colony in 1743. For a long time, it represented the ‘final’ town between the rapidly advancing colonial influence on the Cape and the rest of the ‘dark continent’ to the east. The town made most of its money through the cunning business interests of brothers Barry and Nephew who were the first to exploit the Breede Rivier (which runs close to the town) as a mode of transport for goods back in 1822. Their small shipping company was so successful that they even set up a private bank in their names!
Today, Swellendam is essentially a farming town but its frontier character, and the early Victorian colonial architecture left over from its boom days dominate the town. Tourism is also big business here as it is the largest town in the region and makes a superb centre for wine, hiking, cycling and the ‘unplugged’ way of life.
George Missing (yes, that’s the owner’s real name) has set up a beautiful establishment at Arumvale right on the edge of the town so there is a great sense of space as you look out at the view in front of you. Each cottage is self-catering (you are staying in the Anneline) but there are plenty of places to eat out in town (George will let you know where). We personally love Tredici, the bakery near the N2. You'll enjoy the pool here, set into the lawn at the front of the house.
Don’t miss visiting Rothman Manor, a heritage five-star hotel in the town that has its own miniature game reserve, or the Marloth Nature Reserve which is superb for hiking and vistas.
Bethel Street, Hermitage Valley, Swellendam
Tel +27 28 514 3545
The Old Jail
Today you’ll be taking a drive down the R62 through the Karroo to Willowmore. This is drive of 400km and we suggest taking the Groot Swartberg Pass. This is a mainly off-road route so driving will be slow and we cannot guarantee that there will be no locked farm gates along it. An easier option is to take the R328 north from the R62 at Oudtshoorn (it’s called Baron van Reede Street and is the main road north out of the town). This will bring you over the Swartberg into Prince Albert. Just before you arrive there, take a right on the R407 direction Klaarstrom: this will bring you out right at Willowmore.
The Old Jail is a truly unique piece of history: it functioned as a prison right up until the 1960s and then, amazingly for such a beautiful building, stood vacant for 12 years before the current owners, Karen and Oleg, bought it and took it on. They’ve transformed the place without affecting its original character (the walls are 600mm thick would you believe) and now offer dinners, breakfast and four star graded accommodation.
Please note that The Old Jail doesn’t accept credit cards so you will need to pay for any extras in cash.
Blignaut Street Willowmore
Tel +27 76 792 0622
In the morning you start your drive through the Baviaanskloof, following the Baviaansrivier for 80km. This is then a relatively short drive along dirt roads, although it is steep and winding in places. There are view points along the way.
Note that there is no fuel, cellphone reception or anywhere to buy food or water along the way in the Baviaanskloof. You’ll need to make sure that you’ve got sufficient food and water for at least a day and a night in case of vehicle problems and that you start the trip with a full tank.
We recommend reading through the excellent website dedicated to the reserve, in particular this page which hosts video and images of important landmarks along the route. Our personal favourite is the Combrinks Pass.
Sederkloof is a work of total dedication. The current owners, Thys and Alice, commissioned and architect and structural engineer to make maximum use of the available local materials and vistas. The stone all came from the surrounding valley but every door, bath, tile and timber all had to be driven into the valley by 4x4 from George. Ask Thys about the swimming pool: that was a story on its own!
You are staying in the Kudu Crossroad Lodge. The suite has sweeping views of the valley and an outside shower.
Tel +27 87 700 4330
Dune Ridge Country House
Today you start your drive through the tougher section of the Baviaanskloof where the Ranger is really going to tested. We suggest starting the drive early (08h00 would be a good idea) as you have 100km of serious off road to tackle before you leave the Baviaanskloof. After that, it’s another 80km to St. Francis. You are also expected to be at the exit gate no later than 16h00 on the Eastern side.
You may wish to check the road conditions before you start by calling the Zandvlakte gate on 049 839 1002.
Dune Ridge is also an unusual building in that whilst it was built in 2000, many of the features date from a much older building, an old school in the area that was being demolished. The owners repurposed many parts of the floors, windows and doors with the school’s features. Keeping with the ‘waste not, want not’ theme, they grow their own organic produce which they serve in the kitchen and have a strict recycling policy on site too.
There’s a wealth of things to see and do in the area, particularly the dune walks in the vicinity and in St. Francis itself. You’re staying in the Family Cottage which has a lounge and two separate bedrooms. Dinners are also served at Dune Ridge but you may also like to go to the town of St. Francis too which is about 4km away (downhill!)
Tarragona Road, St Francis Bay
Tel + 27 (0) 42 294 1560
Sibuya Game Reserve
It’s a short drive of 242km from St. Francis to Kenton on Sea and as you know, it’s compulsory to stop off at Nanaga Farm Stall on the way for roosterbrood and steak, so have a light breakfast at Dune Ridge. Don’t forget that you need to aim to arrive at Kenton on Sea for the boat before 11h00 on the day, so that means you need to be on the road no later than 08h00 today.
The reception staff at Sebuya will secure the car for you whilst you’re in the reserve and will have it ready for you when you leave.
39 Eastbourne Road, Kenton-on-Sea
Tel +27 46 648 1040
Colleen and Clive are very excited that you’re coming back to stay with them! Clive has lots more stories to tell you at the breakfast table, Joanna is still cooking up a storm in the kitchen and Colleen’s tennis backhand has only got better. Do enjoy your home-from-home. We are very jealous: this is the only place Liz and I ever stay on the Garden Route.
Do take the opportunity to visit Monkeyland, The Elephant Sanctuary and the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. We’d be happy to make bookings for you at any of these attractions.
12 Redford Road, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay
Tel +27 44 534 8877
Today you have the longest drive of the trip, which is 380km, but with Jan Harmsgat at the end of the drive, you won’t find it too hard.
The farm is one of the oldest in the region, being granted the status of ‘freehold farm’ as far back as 1723, which is where the unusual name comes from (it’s a corruption of Jan Harman’s Schat, meaning Jan Harman’s Treasure). The estate is large at just under 700ha where a lot of indigenous wildlife, including four types of buck and ostrich.
There’s a wonderful pool surrounded by lavender bushes but the real highlight here is the wine and the dining, for which locals come from miles around. Wine has been stored and made at Jan Harmsgat for over 300 years and the food reflects that rich heritage.
R60 District, Bonnievale/Drew
Tel +27 79 207 0777
Today is a short drive to Cape Town, to a place you know well, the legendary Parker Cottage, Cape Town. Pamela and Frederic, the new owners, have redecorated and made all sorts of wonderful changes but all the staff you know and love are still there to welcome you. You’re booked into the Family Suite.
You’re expected to take your rental vehicle back before 11h00.
On your second night here, your holiday will sadly be ruined by having to go out for dinner with a badly-behaved Englishman and his wife. They will be waiting for you at 19h00 at Societi Bistro: the table is booked under Rendel.
Chris Hannival will collect you on the morning of your last day and take you to the airport with your bags, stopping off for lunch at Rust en Vrede before your plane.
Many thanks for visiting South Africa again with Where It All Began – we do hope you had a splendid time with memories to last a lifetime!
3 Carstens Street, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town
Tel +27 21 424 6445