TRAVEL: Tankwa Karoo to Cederberg Mountains (3)

The road trip: The right way vs the wrong way

August 2021

Our wonderful time at Skoorsteenberg Farm & Cottages in the Tankwa Karoo came to an end and it was time to drive to our next destination, namely the Cederberg Mountains.

Goodbye Skoorsteenberg – we’ll see you again

GPS (potential) problems:

We have travelled part of today’s road before, but there is also another road taking us to De Pakhuys in the Cederberg we have not seen before. Before we left home, Berto searched for possible routes on Google Maps. But, as he then found out, you cannot export the routes from Google Maps into a GPX file format which is required for GPS. He found a work around by copying the link of the Google Maps site (with the route) and pasted it on the website and that would then create a GPX file to be uploaded into a GPS. 

He identified two possible routes: The one route required us to cross a river (without a bridge). But due to recent rainfalls, the water level was too high for us to cross. Therefore, our only option was the second route. 

“Why” you might wonder, “am I explaining this in so much detail?” You must keep in mind that we are in “no man’s land” without any reception … so, it’s a combination of trusting the GPS and our instinct. And to top this, it’s also important to remember that we have limited petrol to take us to our end destination … ok, maybe that’s a bit daunting!

After we left Skoorsteenberg, the road went through the Tankwa Karoo National Park. This park is in one of the most arid regions of South Africa (it’s stated that some areas receiving less than 100mm of average annual precipitation a year).

Entrance at the Tankwa Karoo National Park

In 1998, the South African National Parks reintroduced game that used to be found naturally in this area – you might see some springboks, klipspringers, leopards, hyenas and foxes to only name a few. There are also more than 180 bird species in this park.

We were not really expecting to see any animals because we were staying on the main road and just driving through the park. We were therefore happy to see a few antelopes (but only in the far distance) and ostriches when we left the park.

When we drove out of the Tankwa Karoo National Park, we thought it was a great time for a late breakfast next to the road. Our first priority was to look for a tree where we could stop and have some shade. After driving for a few kilometers, we spotted a couple of trees and stopped right there … not really much shade, but it (sort of) fulfilled its purpose.

Time for a late breakfast

It was quite funny when we drove literally a kilometer further, and saw a huge tree (with lots of shade) which would have been the perfect picnic spot!

A great picnic spot

We could now see how the landscape started to change … from dry and barren to more fertile ground (and patches of lovely spring wild flowers).

And then we got to the road we have not yet travelled before. Our GPS indicated that we should take the “Soutpan Road” (no indication that it is actually going towards the Cederberg Mountains). It was decision time … we were only 50km from the next town, Calvinia (where we could refuel our car) or we could fill our car right there next to the road with the extra 10 liters of petrol in our jerry can and keep our fingers crossed that we will reach our destination.

Without finding anybody around to ask where the road is leading, we had a quick discussion and Berto said: “Oh well, we have enough food in the car should we get stuck”  … that’s comforting 😬. I took a quick scan of the few bottles of wine and agreed!

Turning left here at the “Soutpan Road”
Time to refuel the car with our last 10 liters of petrol

Well, we were surely surprised with this road. It looked well-travelled and was in good condition. There were even road signs which indicated to us that this must be a public road – although we encountered a few gates (which were not locked). To say the least, we were quite happy and the scenery was beautiful!

After about half an hour on this road, we reached a beautiful site! Yellow flowers were spread out like a carpet in the fields … we just had to stop to take a couple of pictures!

And then we got to Soutpan, it’s only about 4 or 5 little houses next to the road. A young woman opened the gate for us and she confirmed that we were indeed at Soutpan. I gave her a few packets of sweets and chips and we drove on happily. That was until the GPS indicated we should have turned left when we went through the gate. So, we made a u-turn and followed this road … wise decision or not?

Sheep crossing the (new) road

We immediately noticed that the lovely wide and open road that we were travelling on for the last half an hour, now turned into a small two-wheel road. We had to drive significantly slower and opening and closing more gates. I said to Berto that it felt as if we’re driving now on farm roads and not a public road anymore.

Our new road looks much different than the previous one

This particular section turned out to be more a scenic road in the field than one that connects towns, but we continued … and even stopped now and then to take pictures of all the lovely wild flowers.

Loved these purple flower bushes

Our road continued to change … at times we could not see any other car tracks … though the GPS was happy with our progress.

Is this the right way?

And then the road turned to the left, but the GPS indicated we had to go straight. But if we drove straight, we would enter the front door of an abandoned farmhouse. In silence, we continued for another 10 minutes and then looked at each other. Without even discussing it, we turned around … our intuition has now taken over the GPS and we realised this surely could not be the right way.

We also glanced at the petrol gauge and hoped for the best …

On our way back to the original “Soutpan Road”
At the gate, we saw the sheep of earlier

After more than half an hour since we turned around, we reached the main “Soutpan Road” again – the wide and open road that (hopefully) will take us where we need to be. It was reassuring to see more farmhouses next to the road. Should we run out of petrol, I’m sure there will be people to assist us.

After 20 minutes on this road, we reached an intersection … and a road sign indicating Clanwilliam (our destination) to the left! Relief!! After driving down the tricky Botterkloof Pass, it was just a few more kilometers on the gravel road before we got to a beautifully tarred road – happy days!!

Travellers Rest Farm:

We were very excited to see Travellers Rest Farm – from here, it was now only 7km to De Pakhuys, our final destination. Travellers Rest is a wonderful place to literally just rest for a while – there is a lovely inviting restaurant, as well as a couple of cottages where tourists can stay.

For the first time in 4 days, we could access our e-mails again. We received an e-mail from De Pakhuys (our next accommodation) in the meantime, requesting we must make our payment online (due to Covid) before we arrive.

Travellers Rest

With WiFi still unpredictable, we struggled with the electronic payment. The owner of Travellers Rest offered to phone De Pakhuys and explained our problem. She came back and said everything’s been arranged, we can just go to the camp site at De Pakhuys and settle our payment with them there with their card facilities. What wonderful service to receive from a place where we not even intended to stay!

After a well-deserved chicken-mayo sandwich and chips, we drove the last 7km to De Pakhuys. We still had to travel later to the town Clanwilliam to stock up on our meat and it was with much relief that we realised we had just enough petrol for this trip … phew, if it wasn’t for that extra 10 liters of petrol!

De Pakhuys:

We will tell you more about our bungalow at De Pakhuys in our next post – it was really lovely!

Berto made a short video about our trip from the Tankwa Karoo to the Cederberg Mountains – including the wrong road we took – it’s only a minute or so … have a look at our day on the road!

Our trip from Tankwa Karoo to De Pakhuys in the Cederberg Mountains

See you at our next post where we will take you through our luxurious bungalow in the Cederberg Mountains!

41 thoughts on “TRAVEL: Tankwa Karoo to Cederberg Mountains (3)

  1. Those ostriches are amazing. I also can’t ever imagine a road trip in such open and uninhabited places – here in the UK we just don’t have landscapes and land like that; I’d be worried about not having a petrol station on a 100km drive here!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, to be quite honest … I was also worried about the absence of petrol stations 😅. Yes, it’s true – we have a lot of uninhabited land here in South Africa, especially in the Tankwa Karoo where we’ve travelled.
      Thanks for reading Hannah and enjoy the rest of your week.


    1. Thanks Marion, yes this was definitely an exciting day! By driving the wrong way, we’ve actually seen beautiful flowers … but I’m not so sure we would have enjoyed to be stranded somewhere “nowhere” without fuel 😊.
      Thanks for reading – much appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an adventure! You made the right decision to turn back, it might have upset the farmer if you’d driven through his front door. We often get accused by friends and family of being “foolhardy” when we think we’re just being “adventurous”…I reckon you came close to crossing that line on this one! It made for a great read guys, enjoyed every word. And picture!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was indeed an adventure … and we love the word ‘foolhardy’ … I think we get close sometimes 😉 (but we try to be pretty responsible)! I mean, we had more than enough food and wine just in case 😅.
      Thank you for reading, your comments are greatly appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had a few journeys where we were lost and fuel gauge getting low…but you wouldn’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere like that. It makes arriving that much more fun! Look forward to more pics…it looks really nice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s true Carolyn! Though we had enough food (and wine) for at least a week 😉 … but at some time “someone” (meaning Berto) would have to walk to look for help! We were indeed very happy to sleep in an amazing bed later that evening! We’ll definitely show more pictures of De Pakhuys in our next post … and then unbelievable scenery on our hike in the Cederberg Mountains!
      Thanks for reading, take care 🌸.


    1. Dankie Aletta 🌸. Ja, die veld blommetjies was lieflik … jy weet mos hoe mooi die veld hierdie tyd van die jaar kan wees! Wat ‘n avontuurvolle dag (gits, kry mens so ‘n woord?) 😁. Die Botterkloof Pas (wat mens hier teen die einde van die video kan sien, was nogal ‘n skrikmakertjie) … maar ja, eind goed alles goed, ne!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Stunning wildflowers. It’s amazing how stark landscapes like this can have such beautiful flora. It’s one of the things we love about travelling around Australia’s outback.
    Running out of fuel isn’t something you want to have happen either. A couple of months ago we ran into a headwind and had to rely on spare fuel from another traveller. So good to make it in your case.
    Cheers, Mark

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mark. Yes, this time of year the wildflowers are really beautiful – and it’s special to see them in this dry area of our country. I’ve seen some of your outback pictures and I’m always surprise to notice the plant life there as well.
      We were just a little bit nervous about our fuel situation (and really glad we’ve made it with literally a few liters to spare) … we will probably invest in another jerry can.
      Thanks for reading and take care. Corna


  5. How cool to just see a bunch of ostriches like that. I also love all the colorful flowers! Glad to hear you didn’t run out of gas in the middle of nowhere… there’s definitely something to be said for trusting your intuition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We’ve actually had to wait for the ostriches to cross the road in order to continue driving – and were indeed happy to see this bunch! Yes, we had to trust our intuition a few times before on trips … and fortunately for us, in the end it always worked out.
      Thanks for reading and enjoy the weekend ahead 😉.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s always amazing to see how quickly the landscape change! Wait till you see our post on our hiking … and how that scenery is totally different from literally a 100km away! Indeed, sometimes good to listen to that “inner voice” 😉.
      Thanks for reading and enjoy a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading about another of our road trips … this one was a great adventure. Wait till you see with what a stunning hike in the Cederberg Mountains we’ve ended this trip! Glad you’ve enjoyed this with us, have a good night’s sleep 😴.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was a bit touch-and-go there for a moment … but we still found the field so beautiful with the sudden pop-ups of wildflowers that we could not stop ourselves from enjoying this spectacle. It was only later that we got a tiny bit worried when the road led nowhere and the fuel gauge reminded us of a possible problem ☺️. But hey, all good at the end!
      Thanks for reading and enjoy your Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What an exciting experience in South Africa ! I think I would have been very excited if we had noticed that we were already far on the wrong path. I would have been very worried that we would end up in nowhere somewhere without fuel on the way. It is wonderful to read that you drove back and that your adventurous journey led to a beautiful end. 😊.
    Rosie from Germany 🌻🌻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this trip with us Rosie! It certainly is an area in South Africa where you don’t want to get stuck without fuel, that’s for sure! But like I’ve mentioned in our post, all ends well and we had a lovely accommodation at the end of this eventful trip 😀. Thanks for reading and your lovely comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Driving in your country is certainly very different, and more challenging, than here in the UK! Although even here we’ve occasionally wondered if we’ve cut it too fine with the petrol in our tank 🙃 I love all the wildflowers, especially those bright yellow fields!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Tankwa Karoo is a very vast and barren landscape (and you don’t want to get stuck here without petrol), but I would say the rest of South Africa is definitely easier to travel. I remember a day when I was travelling to work (in Cape Town), with at least 5 petrol stations on my way … and I got stuck with an empty tank because I thought I’ll make it to work 😉 … hmm, not clever!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s quite amazing to see the wild flowers in this barren area of our country. And we see ostriches often on our travels – they are not really shy of vehicles, so we have plenty of opportunities to take photo’s of them 😉.

      Liked by 1 person

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