Reader Travel: Drifting down Route 62

Words & Pictures by Bob & Jenny Stanley

Bob and I are in our 70s and recently retired. We decided to go on a “drifting pensioners” camping trip to Cape Town to visit our children. We did some research on what route to take, as our aim was mainly to stay in farm parks we hadn’t visited before. Then, after reading the article on Route 62 by Richard Van Ryneveld in the October 2016 edition Caravan & Outdoor Life, our decision was made.

1 March

We set off early from Westville, Durban, heading up the N3 to Fouriesberg. We took the Ladysmith/Bergville R616 off ramp, then the R74 past the Sterkfontein Dam to head through the beautiful Golden Gate Reserve and on to Meiringskloof Resort, where we spent our first two-night stay.

This is a lovely park set in a gorge, with plenty of shade but not much grass, so the sites and park road became very muddy after rain. The ablutions are old but were always clean and with plenty of hot water. (There is talk of the ablutions and sites getting an upgrade in July). we did a lovely walk up to the large overhang cave and waterfalls.

3 March

We took the R26 for a lovely quiet drive past Ficksburg, Ladybrand, Wepener and Zastron, then at Rouxville, down the N6 to Aliwal North. We passed farmlands of mielies and bright yellow sunflowers.

Just before going over the bridge into Aliwal North, we turned right onto the dirt farm-road to Badfontein Guest Farm, on the banks of the Orange River.

They had experienced a lot of rain prior to our visit, which had caused the little stream to overflow onto the lowlying bridge up to the farm. Bob got out to wade through it to see how deep it was, before we attempted to cross. All was well, and over we went.

The 6 campsites are cut into the bush for privacy, so it’s quiet and peaceful. There are two spacious family ablutions, which are very clean and have plenty of hot water.

A 2km drive back up the farm road takes you to the warm sulphur spring pool, completely surrounded by reeds. There is also a lovely thatched boma with table and chairs. What a lovely place to relax.

Drifting down Route 62

Once back at camp, we took a short walk through the bush to watch the sun set over the Orange River. In the late afternoon, Johan the farmer came down to check that everything was okay, and to give us mielies and potatoes fresh from the farm.

5 March

After stocking up on supplies at a lovely clean Spar in Aliwal North, we headed down the R58 past Burgersdorp, then took the R391 past Steynsburg to Middleburg and then down theN9 to Graaf Reinet, where we booked into Camdeboo National Park.

This is a well-laid-out park with each site surrounded by bush, so it is very private. However, there are no trees, so it can be very hot.

There is a wooden table with benches attached, and a braai and bin at each site. There are lovely clean ablutions with plenty of hot water. We made full use of the kitchen/scullery, which is equipped with 2-plate stoves, a microwave, a kettle, and washing basins.

We took a drive around the Nature Reserve and up to the Valley of Desolation. From the car park, there is a short walk on good paths up to the viewpoint.

6 March

Drifting down Route 62

From Graaff Reinet, we travelled down the N9, then turned off onto the R341 past De Rust to Oudtshoorn – the roads were quiet and the mountain scenery stunning, making travelling a pleasure. As we got nearer to Oudtshoorn, the farms changed from sheep to ostrich.

Once in town, we decided to head up towards the Cango Caves. This took us 36km up, on the most beautiful mountain pass.

We turned left onto Prince Albert Road to the De Hoek mountain resort.

Wow! Lush green grass, shady trees, a sparkling pool, large spotless ablutions, and mountains all around. This is a municipal park that deserves a 5-star rating. As a bonus, we got a 40% pensioners discount, so paid only R123 for the two of us for one night.

7 March

From Oudtshoorn, we took Route 62. What a pleasure! A slow drive on a beautiful, tarred, quiet road through the most spectacular scenery and mountain passes.

We stopped at one of the little farm stalls next to the road to buy grapes and dried fruit, and later stopped next to an ostrich farm for a tea break.

Just before Barrydale, we turned off to the Warmwaterberg Spa. This resort has 11 campsites with a bit of grass and some trees for shade. It is a typical Karoo-farm camp with peacocks, chickens and kittens all playing together. Of course, the main attraction is the mineral spring pools. The large, cooler pool is very popular during the hot days; the two smaller hot pools are 38 degrees, and rather hot. The pools are a very sociable attraction as most of us gathered there to wallow and chat – at the large pool during the day, and at the hot pools in the evening.

The place was full, as they had a pensioner special for the month of March.

We took a drive down to the neighbouring vineyard to pick grapes. Once you have picked them, you weigh them on the scale hanging in the tree, and then pay at the office.

9 March

After leaving Warmwaterberg Spa, we’d wanted to go over the road to have a cup of coffee at Ronny’s Sex Shop, but to our disappointment, it was closed.

We went on a short but very scenic drive to Robertson to spend a night at the beautiful, well-run Silverstrand Caravan Park on the banks of the tranquil Breede River. This resort is ideal for boating and fishing. The ablutions are clean and have lots of hot water, and there are laundry facilities such as a washing machine and drier. For the children, there is a play area, and a lovely pool with a super slide.

10 March

From Robertson, we went to Durbanville to spend five days with our children and grandchildren, and then it was on to Kleinmond municipal park along the very scenic R44 (Clarence Drive). It was rather overcast and misty, so we didn’t get the full benefit of the beautiful view.

Kleinmond Caravan Park is neat but rather plain, with grass but no shade. The ablutions were clean and had plenty of hot water.

A short walk under the main road brings you to a boardwalk that stretches over the lagoon and onto the beach.

We found the resort rather noisy, as it is close to the road. We took a Drive to Palmiet Caravan Park and found that, while the sites there are more private, it can get very busy and noisy over weekends.

A stroll down Harbour View Drive allowed us to browse in the little shops, and buy delicious fresh fish and chips from the shop for supper.

16 March

We packed padkos and headed back along the R44 to Betty’s Bay to visit the Harold Porter Botanical gardens, which was a quick 15-minute drive.

The park is a “miniature Kirstenbosch”, absolutely stunning, with beautiful scenery and birds – sunbirds are plentiful. We spent hours strolling around these delightful gardens.

We went to the beach to have our picnic, then on to the penguin colony at Stony Point. It’s very interesting: along a boardwalk there are posters explaining the history of the area and its penguins.

17 March

From Kleinmond, we headed along the Whale Route to Strandskloof Caravan Park just outside Gansbaai. It is a lovely, neat, well-run park. Each group of two sites has a reed fence around it as a wind-shield.

The ablutions are 5-star, with washing machines, driers and washing lines. There is also a lovely pool and play area, plus a heated pool in a separate enclosure.

Drifting down Route 62

18 March

We took the R326 at Stanford, then left via the R316 to join the N2 to make our way to Mossel Bay, where we booked into the Riverside Resort on the banks of the Klein Brak River.

Riverside is a family resort with lots to do; it has putt-putt, tennis, pools, a games room, a trampoline, and canoes for hire. There is a shop, and fresh, home-made pizzas can be ordered.

The next morning, we took a short drive to the neighbouring farm to get a litre of fresh Jersey cow milk for R6 (you take your own bottle) with cream on the top.

19 March

A quick drive into Mossel Bay took us to visit the Dias Museum – very interesting and well set out. On the way back to camp, we decided to explore the Robertson Pass, which was a lovely road with beautiful mountain scenery. On the way down, we stopped at a little farm stall for a cheese-and-jam roosterkoek lunch.

After a good night’s sleep, we went on to Plettenberg Bay to spend four days with our daughter and son-in-law.

24 March

After a sad farewell to our family, we headed along the N2 to Grahamstown. We were told not to go on the N2 to King Williams Town because of all the roadworks and hassles, so we took the R67 to Port Alfred, then the R72 to East London.

Not an easy trip! The road is narrow and windy, and it took us two hours out of our way. This was the only part of the trip we did not like.

We were escorted out of the traffic to the N6 and up to Stutterheim, where we booked into the neat little Wattle Chop Camp. We got there in the late afternoon, so parked on the driveway for an easy start the next morning, as we didn’t want to get stuck on the wet grass.

There are two small ablutions, each with a shower, toilet and basin. Under a thatched boma, there are washing-up facilities, a fridge, a table and chairs, and a fireplace for braais or just for sitting around.

A little dam provides the opportunity for some boating and water fun.

We have visited the park a few times as a stop-over to the Cape, as we do not travel through the Transkei.

28 March

We set off from Stutterheim up the N6 towards Queenstown. Instead of taking the usual R396 route via Lady Frere, Eliot, and Kokstad, we decided to carry on up the N6.

It was a good choice. The road is quiet and took us past country farm lands. Just before Fouriesburg, we turned right into the Shumba Valley Guest Farm. The park is surrounded by the Rooiberg and Wittenberg Mountains, overlooking the valley towards Lesotho.

We spent two days here, taking short walks and just relaxing. There are terraced, grassy sites, (some with shade), clean ablutions, and plenty of hot water supplied by the donkey boiler.

At R45 per day for electricity, we decided to cook the last few meals of our “drifting adventure” on the fire, before heading home.

Trip Images

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