DRIVE OUT OF ‘THE HELL’
April & May 2021
Three glorious days in ‘The Hell’ … 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 us approximately 8 hours (3 hours just to get out of ‘The Hell’) and then 5 more hours on tarred roads to reach our house.
We will not ‘bore’ you with another video of our upward journey of Elands Pass … but I can guarantee you, it was just as thrilling as the descent a few days earlier!
Once we’ve reached the top, we’ve stopped at a widen area to take some pictures 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 absolutely quietness – almost unreal – and we’ve sat down for 5 minutes just to 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’ve just enjoyed the drive. The high mountains, deep cliffs and beautiful scenery was enough reason 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’ve once again drive 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’ve left ‘The Hell’, I surely 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 as I was clinging onto my seat! But once we’ve got to the bottom, I was blown away by the high rock mountains on both sides of the road.
Once we’ve reached the little town of Prince Albert at the foot of the Swartberg Pass, it was back on the highway and another 440km (273 miles) back home.
But wait … there’s one thing, 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 stations across South Africa. We don’t do this often, but oh boy, it’s great to eat one of these on the road … and later worry about heartburn (we knew would come knocking on our door 😉).
We’ve stopped in Laingsburg and had to stand in a queue for our ‘garage pie’ … it sure is famous under the South African road travelers.
As we’ve got to Ceres, we’ve had to cover 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’ve arrived at the very same spot where we’ve taken our 2nd photo days ago … somewhere on farm roads close to home. We just felt it fitting, to take our last picture of our memorable trip here again.
We’ve felt really blessed to be able to have done this trip – celebrating our 25th anniversary. 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!