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 … the Cederberg Mountains.
GPS (potential) problems:
We’ve travelled on 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’ve left our home, Berto searched for possible routes on Google Maps. But 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 – 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’ll have to 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 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!
But first, we’ve taken a drive 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 as we’ve stayed on the main road and just driving through the park. Though we did see some antelopes (but only in the far distance) and a few ostriches as we were leaving the park.
As we left the Tankwa Karoo National Park, we’ve decided it was time for a late breakfast next to the road. Our first priority was to look for a tree where we could have some shade. After driving for a few kilometers, we’ve 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 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 some lovely wild spring 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 (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’ve had a quick discussion and Berto said: “Oh well, we have enough food in the car should we get stuck” … that’s comforting 😬. I’ve quickly scanned 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’ve encountered a few gates (which were not locked) … we were quite happy – and the scenery was beautiful!
After about half an hour on this road, we’ve come to a beautiful site! Yellow flowers were spread out like a carpet in the fields … we’ve just had to stop and take some pictures!
And then we got to Soutpan (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’ve drove on happily … until the GPS indicated we should’ve turned left when we went through the gate. So, we’ve turned around and followed this road …
We’ve immediately noticed that the lovely wide and open road we’ve been travelling on for the last half an hour, now turned into a small two-wheel road. We had to drive significantly slower and opened and closed more gates … I’ve said to Berto it almost felt as if we’re driving now on farm roads.
Though this particular section turns out to be more a scenic road in the field than one that connects towns, we continued … even stop now and then to take pictures of all the lovely wild flowers.
Though it was beautiful, our road continued to change … at times we could not see any other cars’ tracks … though the GPS was happy with our progress …
And then the road turned to the left, but the GPS showed we must go straight. If we did go straight, we would enter the front door of an abandoned farmhouse. In silence, we’ve continued for another 10 minutes and then we’ve looked at each other and without even discussing it, turned around … our intuition has now taken over the GPS and we’ve realised this surely could not be the right way.
We’ve looked at the petrol gauge and hoped for the best …
We were back on the main “Soutpan Road” – 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 … in case we run out of petrol, I’m sure there will be people to assist us.
And then, after about 20 minutes on this road, we’ve got to 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 – hooray!!
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 – they’ve got a beautiful restaurant, as well as some lovely cottages where tourists can stay.
For the first time in 4 days, we could access our e-mails again. We’ve 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’ve 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’ve not even intended to stay!
After a well-deserved chicken-mayo sandwich and chips, we’ve travelled 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’ve realised we have 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’ve taken – 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!