DRIVE OUT OF ‘THE HELL’
April & May 2021
Three glorious days in ‘The Hell’ … but we knew, at some point, it had to come to an end and we would have to go back into the world with its TV’s and newspapers (with mostly bad news) and city noises … urgh!
Today we are driving back home – a drive that will take approximately 8 hours (3 hours just to get out of ‘The Hell’) and then 5 more on tarred roads back home.
We will not ‘bore’ you with another video of our journey up to the top of Elands Pass … but I can guarantee you, it was just as thrilling as the descent a few days earlier!
At the top of the pass we stopped at a pull-off area to take some photos and have a quick breakfast.
We’ve enjoyed half an hour of just walking around, taking pictures and enjoying the spectacular scenery that surrounded us. There was absolute quietness – almost surreal – which forced us to just sit down for 5 minutes and enjoy this moment.
As we were driving through the valleys of the mountains … up and down, up and down … we were now more aware of our environment than when we came down this road a couple of days before.
And to our delight, we saw two ‘klipspringers’ next to the road. The name ‘klipspringer’ is a compound of the Afrikaans words klip (‘rock’) and springer (‘leaper’) – it’s a small rock-dwelling antelope, native to Southern Africa.
For the next hour we just enjoyed the drive. The high mountains, deep cliffs and beautiful scenery were enough reasons just to be thankful for the wonderful trip we had!
And then we got to ‘Oom Koos se klip’ (translated ‘Uncle Koos’ rock’). This rock was the first real obstruction Koos van Zyl encountered when building the road and so became known by his name.
Towards the end of this route, we once again drove through the sweet smelling ‘fynbos’ which are on both sides of the road … this is a truly South African smell that I still have not encountered anywhere else on our travels.
If I had any illusions of a smooth road ahead after we left ‘The Hell’, I had to think twice! Although we were out of ‘The Hell’, we were still on top of the Swartberg Pass!
No surprises here … there are no pictures of the descent because I was clinging onto my seat! But once we reached the bottom of the pass, I was blown away by the high rock mountains on both sides of the road.
The little town of Prince Albert is at the foot of the Swartberg Pass and from here it was back on the highway and another 440km (273 miles) back home.
But wait … there’s one thing, that we love to do when we’re on a road trip … and that’s to buy probably the most unhealthy, but also delicious ‘garage pie’. It’s called a ‘garage pie’ simply because it’s sold at various petrol garages across South Africa. We don’t do this often, but oh my, it’s great to eat one of these on the road … and later worry about heartburn (which we know would come knocking on the door 😉).
Our opportunity came in Laingsburg where we had to stand in a queue for our ‘garage pie’ … it sure is famous under the South African road travellers.
When we reached Ceres, we had to drive our last mountain pass. The Michells’ Pass is a beautiful tarred (yeah!) pass and especially beautiful to drive during winter when there are many waterfalls to be seen. This pass was damaged in 1969 by an earthquake, but soon afterwards rebuilt with superior engineering methods. It has some steep curves, but offers beautiful views of the mountains and river below.
And then … just like that … we arrived at the very same spot where we took our 2nd photo days ago … somewhere on a farm road close to home. It felt fitting to take our last picture of our memorable trip here.
We really feel blessed to be able to have done this trip – celebrating our 25th anniversary in this way. But actually, this was more than just a celebratory trip – it was the opportunity to experience parts of South Africa we have not seen before, meeting wonderful people and spending quality time with each other. We had such good laughs and wonderful conversations … and will definitely cherish this trip in our hearts.
Thank you for following our Karoo Trip … we look forward to share the next road trip with all of you again here on Wet and Dusty Roads!