KAROO TRIP (5)


 ‘THE HELL’ (DIE STALLETJIE)

April & May 2021

After our hectic drive down Elands Pass the previous day (you can read about here), we have now settled in our house for the weekend.

Our little house, called ‘Stalletjie’ (translated, it would be a small horse stable) is very comfortable and just too cute for words! As we’ve switched off our lights last night, it was so dark we could barely see our hands in front of us … that took some time to get used to 👀👀.

The ‘Stalletjie’ in the early morning sunshine

DAY 4 & 5:

We have now two glorious rest days in paradise (while ironically, it’s called ‘The Hell’). After driving hair-raising mountain passes, we were now in the mood for some peace and lazy days.

We woke up with birds chirping outside and other nature noises we were not used to … time to get our hiking shoes on and take a walk in this beautiful place.

We were greeted with a wonderful blue sky … sunny days ahead after the last couple of days were overcast and wet

I’ve read in history journals that residents in ‘The Hell’ used donkeys and travelled by foot across the Swartberg Mountains … the very same mountains we have just drive with our car for hours! Before the road was completed in 1962, children attended school in ‘The Hell’. Ironically, this led to depopulation of the community and the local children attended schools in the nearby villages.

We’ve walked past the old school building

We’ve had a wonderful caretaker, Pieter (and his dog Witvoet – ‘White foot’) that made sure everything was in order at our accommodation. He came by every morning and afternoon to see whether we’ve needed something and we had wonderful chats with him about living in this secluded area. 

(I can’t believe we have not taken a photo of him and his dog, but I presume we were just so intrigued by all of his stories that we did not even think about it … such a pity.)

It was Pieter who told us about the road that leads over the hill to the furthest mountains and that we could walk there if we would like to go for a hike.

We could have walked much further, but it was quite hot and we did not intend to take a strenuous walk. So, we’ve turned around after about an hour and enjoyed more beautiful roads on our way back.

On the way back after our short hike
The river’s water crossing the road
We’ve seen some of the old farming equipment that was used here many years ago

The Gamkaskloof valley (‘The Hell’) was declared a national monument in 1997 and is now part of the Swartberg Nature Reserve. All the cottages in the valley (ours included) have been renovated and equipped with solar power and bathrooms.

One of the (bigger) renovated cottages we’ve seen – called ‘Oom Piet se huis’ (translated, ‘Uncle Piet’s house’)
The end of our hike and we’re back at our little cottage

We’ve made a late breakfast and spent some time at the back of our house where we’ve relaxed with our books.

I’m relaxing with a book in our big back yard

Before we’ve embarked on our trip, we’ve read about a family that is staying here and are running a shop for tourists visiting this area … it was time to pay them a visit … but it did take as about 40 minutes of rough driving to get there!

The only shop in Gamkaskloof

The shop is privately owned by Annetjie Joubert – the only remaining, born and bred ‘Gamkaskloofer’. She was unfortunately not here, but we’ve met her son and daughter-in-law. Besides the shop, they also offer overnight facilities in two historic farmhouses, as well as meals prepared in the kitchen of the shop.

This is always a winner: A signpost in the garden with distances to various places around the world

Inside the shop is Gamkaskloof curios, cold drinks and beer (we definitely bought a few of those 😊). And we were surprised to find a wide variety of jams and preserves (made with the fruit growing on their farm) … we’ve also bought a few of those to take back home.

This funny one makes sure you know where you are!
They even have a post box – I’ve bought a postcard at the shop and post it to ourselves

We’ve spent more than an hour at the shop, chatting to the Gamkaskloof family about living in this deserted, yet beautiful place. They love living here and I’m sure they don’t feel they are missing out too much on what is going on around the world!

Back at the ‘Stalletjie’ we’ve enjoyed the rest of the afternoon reading and enjoying the last bit of sunshine before the huge mountains made the sun disappear early.

The last bit of sunshine after a relaxing day
Love the windows!

There is not much we can say about our last day in ‘The Hell’ … we’ve done nothing more than just relaxing and enjoying nature and each other’s company.

We did however had some visitors … for the entire day! A big family of guinea fowls arrived early morning and spent the day under the tree in front of our house and later moved to the back where we were sitting.

Guinea fowls looking for something to eat
And then they’ve chilled out under the tree

It was such a beautiful day – so hot, that we’ve had to sit under the trees’ shade in shorts and enjoyed our cold beers we’ve bought at the shop earlier.

Sitting in the shade and enjoying our books
Although it was feeling like summer, the leaves showed us we were in the midst of autumn

I remember telling Berto that this was easily one of the best days of my life … nothing spectacular happened, but I was just so content and happy at that very moment.

And I had a surprise up my sleeve to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary … a bottle of Amarula! Amarula is a cream liqueur from South Africa, made with sugar, cream and the fruit of the African marula tree. This tree is locally called the Elephant tree, but also the Marriage Tree … perfect for our weekend in a beautiful far-away place!

South African Amarula liqueur to celebrate 25 wonderful years together

We had such a wonderful time here in ‘The Hell’ and in our cottage, the ‘Stalletjie’. Living off the grid and in simplicity … for us, this is the best way of appreciating and celebrating life.

It was time to make one last fire and enjoy the silence … except for the occasional bark of a baboon, croaking sounds of the frogs and the crickets’ chirping. And of course, to enjoy the sight of thousands of brilliant stars above us.

Our last fire in ‘The Hell’

Our next post will be the last one of this series … for the last time on this trip, you will see more beautiful roads on our way back home.

You can read about our last day here 👍🏻

Categories: South African Break Aways

33 comments

  1. Corna, I just love your photos. It looks like such a lovely, relaxing place; why was it named The Hell? Oh, and I so appreciate your feeling that it was one of the best days of your life due to simply feeling contented. I can tell from your writings that you are often present and able to enjoy life’s simplest pleasures. You’re my hero! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh dear Lisa, thank you so much for your lovely comments! The Hell – so named because of the steep inclines (but in my opinion, because it’s hell to get there through those mountain passes 😉). It was such a wonderful experience and we will certainly treasure these amazing memories … it is indeed the simple things in life that brings us the most pleasure!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The old stable looks like absolute paradise and a perfect way to celebrate your anniversary with glasses of that South African liquor.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy 25th Anniversary! Getting away to your cottage was a great way to celebrate. It is such a beautiful area. Your photos are superb.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Hell…looks heavenly! What a lovely way to spend your special anniversary…congratulations! We actually sometimes see guinea fowl here too. Love them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha 😁 … I like your word playing! Can you believe there is actually a place like this? And thanks for your wishes. We love these silly guinea fowls – see them every morning in the field behind our house (they are such a noisy bunch!) Thanks for reading and your comments.

      Like

  5. Happy 25th Anniversary! And what a way to celebrate. Love the look of those cottages and indeed your celebratory feast. I would definitely like a glass of the Amarula. Here’s to the next 25…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Heaven….in Hell! What a delightful place to curl up with a good book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful experience to celebrate your 25th. Congrats – cheers to the next 25. 🍻

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Hell looks like heaven!
    Isn’t it weird to have total darkness? Because of light pollution, we experience it so rarely.
    I am so glad you have had such a lovely bit of R&R in paradise!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy Anniversary 😊 it is a great place to escape and enjoy your getaway.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I enjoyed reading your post, thank you for sharing such lovely images too. May you find many more moments of contentment and happiness ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Baie geluk met julle 25ste huweliksherdenking! Dis regtig ongelooflik mooi daar in Die Hel! Bly het wonderlike weer gehad. Ons vertrek op die 28ste Julie op ‘n Karoo trip! Sien so vreeslik daarna uit!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful and not at all like Hell! Though seeing that bottle of Amarula brings back hellish memories for me of getting so drunk on it I vomited up a door….! Your trip looks much more civilised than that lol! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha Hannah 😁 … I had a good laugh now! Remember, we’re not 20 any more … if we were, it could have been a whole other story! But yeah, besides the ‘hellish’ Amarula 😉, The Hell turned out to be such a beautiful and peaceful place.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a beautiful stay in nature!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It looks like a lovely spot, definitely misnamed!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Born to Travel Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: