The road trip: The right way vs the wrong way
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.
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 https://mapstogpx.com 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).
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
Our road continued to change … at times we could not see any other car tracks … though the GPS was happy with our progress.
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 …
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.
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!
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!
See you at our next post where we will take you through our luxurious bungalow in the Cederberg Mountains!