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  • Writer's pictureUrsula

Road Trip South Africa 12.02.-06.03.21

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

The road trip from Kruger Park to Cape Town takes us through areas that you don't necessarily plan on visiting on your first trip to South Africa. Since we have already visited the area around Durban and the Garden Route in previous trips, we drive via the Drakensberg, the Wild Coast and Karoo to the wine regions of Robertson Valley and Franschhoek. The last stop before Cape Town takes us even further north to the Cederberg Mountains.

But now one after the other:

We spend two days at Komati Gorge Lodge near Carolina. Already the access is an experience: We have to cross the river twice over a ford, which has quite a lot of water. The lodge is beautifully nestled in a valley from where you can take beautiful, well-marked hikes. The lodge is highly recommended, especially because the hosts (an Austrian and a Scot) are very dedicated and customer friendly. If you like horseback riding, this is absolutely the right place.

In the Drakenberg Mountains we spend a total of five nights hiking in two different lodges (Montusi and Qambathi). From Montusi Lodge we visit the Royal Natal National Park and decide to hike to the Tiger Falls. The backdrop of the mountains, the so-called amphitheater, is very impressive. But unfortunately we have to stop the hike because of rain and slippery ground. Too bad.

From Qambathi Logde, further south, we visit Highmoor and Giants Castle Reserve. At Highmoor, located at 1800 m, entrance fee is charged, but there are no hiking maps and no tips for hiking. So we just go, with no idea how long this will take, and follow the path through tall grass with lots of flowers and beautiful views to a cave with a waterfall.

At Giant Castle there are hiking maps, but few tips. To get closer to the fantastic mountains, one would have to plan a hike of several days. We take the Bergview Trail under our feet and let the scorching sun bake us for two hours. Unfortunately, the beautiful mountain range is overshadowed by clouds.

Enough hiking, now it's off to the Wild Coast via Mthatha to Prana Lodge near Cintsa. Beautifully located on a secluded beach, each bungalow is surrounded by flowers and trees and the food is fantastic. Just relax and enjoy.

The next destination is Graff-Reinet as an overnight stop, where we visit the impressive Valley of Desolation in Camdeboo National Park in the evening.

The onward journey takes us into the great Karoo semi-desert to the Roam Game Reserve. At the entrance the car is parked and we are driven to the lodge which also turns out to be a game drive. We are the only guests and are spoiled by the lodge manager personally with a scenically exciting, but animal-poor sundowner drive.

Early the next morning we start to search for the cheetahs. The animals are chipped and can be located to some extent. We receive the signal of the cheetah mother with the three cubs. Because it is not allowed to drive into the open country, we walk a bit and watch the animals from a safe but amazingly close distance. A unique experience.

On the second morning we help the manager capture birds with nets and traps to identify, measure, weigh and ring them. Afterwards they are gently released.

To say goodbye we sit down in the enclosure of the meerkats, which are to be settled in the game reserve. The cute animals are extremely aggressive and playful among themselves.

The route to Oudtshoorn leads beautifully over a narrow valley through the Swartberg mountain range where we make a short stop at the waterfall.

We stay in the noble guesthouse ' La Plume' on an ostrich farm where we make a short, informative but not very photogenic farm tour with the landlord the next morning. Also Oudtshoorn itself is not really worth a visit. Perhaps our expectations were too high, because this small town is often advertised together with the Garden Route.

A short drive on Route 62 brings us to the Groenfontain Retreat Lodge, secludedly located, with a huge turnaround with various hiking trails and a small reservoir for swimming.

On the second day we make an excursion over the Swart Pass to Prince Albert. A gravel road, partly built by prisoners, leads over the spectacular pass with great rock formations and beautiful views.

Already we continue to Montagu to the very nice Monte Vista Boutique Hotel. At hot 35° we relax at the swimming pool. In the early morning we hike through a beautiful valley to the hot springs, which unfortunately are hidden in a termal resort.

In the afternoon we enjoy a wine tour in the Robertson Valley where 30% of South African wine is produced. We stock up on 12 bottles and create our own blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Another short drive takes us over the Franschhoek Pass to the culinary center of the wine region.

We stay at La Cotte Farm in a cottage with its own swimming pool and a fantastic view. Of course we go to the Stoney Brook wine cellar for a wine tasting including shopping and in the evening we enjoy a divine meal at the 'Petite Colombe' on the very noble Leeu Estate.

Our last stop before spending a month in Cape Town is the Cederberg Mountains a few hundred kilometers to the north. The Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge is located in the middle of the semi-desert. The cottages are beautiful and have gorgeous views. We take a short sundowner hike. Alternatively, there are mountain bike routes with well-marked trails.

The next day we go to the Cederberg National Park with a hike through bizarrely eroded sandstone, which reminds us somewhat (in a very small way) of the natural parks in Utah. At various places you can see well preserved wall paintings.

Finally, there's a picnic at the Cederberg winery including wine tasting and of course shopping. So the wine stock should be enough for the next month in Cape Town where we have rented a vacation apartment on the Waterfront.

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