With our Isuzu KB350 and Dessert Runner rooftop tent on our self-customised trailer, we tackled our adventure that would take us almost 3 900 kilometres.
We left our home in Aliwal-North with only a vague idea of where the direction in which we wanted to go – we did not make any reservations, and did not have any definite plans.
About 10 km outside Graaff-Reinett, a thunderstorm hit. We saw this as a test for the rooftop tent, whether the cover is waterproof. By late afternoon we arrived at Beaufort West and decided to stay in the Karoo National Park for the night. The resort is nice and clean, and the staff at reception are friendly and helpful.
The next day we head out to one of the few actual placed we set down to visit, Die Hel. Driving via Prince Albert and over the Swartberg Pass, the scenery takes your breath away. Even though it is a gravel road, it’s in excellent condition.
We stopped at the turn-off to Gamkaskloof to deflate the wheels. The road is rocky but not too bad, and it takes us about three hours. We are left speechless by the drive. Who would have thought that this dry area would be so beautiful.
Day 1: Aliwal North, Middelburg, Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Beaufort West.
Day 2: Karoo National Park, Leeu-Gamka, Prince Albert, Die Hell
Day 3: Swartberg Pass, Schoemansdrif, Oudtshoorn
Day 4: Herold, Montagu Pass, George, Seven Passes Road via Katara to Knysna, Noetzie, Bloukrans Pass, Tsitsikama National Park.
Day 5, 6: Stormsriviermond.
Day 7: Van Stadens Pass, Addo Elephant Park, Port Alfred.
Day 8: Hole in the Wall, Coffee Bay
Day 9: Karridene
Day 10: Dragon Peak, Royal National Park.
Day 11: Golden Gate, Clarens, Fouriesburg, Meiringskloof caravan park.
Day 12: Back in Aliwal North
We only passed two vehicles on the road, one which almost crashed into us head on at 30km/h.
Apparently, we are the only visitors in Die Hel for the night, and we choose our spot at “Piet se staning”. It was a wonderful experience, filled with natural beauty. We decided to visit it again soon to show the children.
An idea had formed to drive as many passes as we could, and we again took the Swartberg Pass, this time to Oudtshoorn. From here we head to Montagu, and then follow the Seven Passes to Katara, through Knysna and on to the castles at Noetzie.
We drove the Groot River Pass, but then disappointment struck: The Bloukrans Pass appeared to be closed. There is also no indication or warning that it is a dangerous or maybe even undriveable road!
Staying two nights at the Tsitsikama National Park was amazing. Not only is the scenery stunning, but we were lucky to spot a Knysna Loerie. It sat on a branch right in front of us where we went for a hike.
Still with no definite plans, we left the Tsitsikama National Park en cruised along the coast, staying a night in Port Alfred. From here we decided to head inland in the direction of East London. Our destination was Hole in the Wall. I can really recommend this place, but I would not tackle the route with my normal Sprite caravan – even though it is a tarred road, it is more holes than road.
Continuing on we spent some time in Coffee Bay. Early in the mornings the roads are full of children going to school, taxis trying to avoid the holes in the road, and donkeys standing around idly. Still, the scenery is something to appreciate. The caretaker at the Coffe Bay caravan park patrols the resort throughout the night to ensure campers are safe.
As we headed through the old Transkei via Kokstad, Port Alfred and on to Karidene, it appeared as if many of the resorts are only maintained during peak season, even the four star ones. Although Karridene was a pleasant place to rest, as always.
Turning inland we drive via Pietermaritzburg towards the Drakensberg, but due to heavy rain, cold and mist, we could not get to places like Monks Cowl and Dragons Peak. But we are not worried or in a rush, and after driving a bit further the mist cleared. We spent the night at Royal National Park. What a lovely place! The mountains were glistening with waterfalls after all the rain that fell in KwaZulu-Natal.
The last leg of our journey takes us via Golden Gate and Clarens, with our last stop being Fouriesburg at Meiringspoort, where there sandstone formations is the cherry on the cake of our adventure.
Finally, after 3 889 km, we return to Aliwal North. Our cameras are full of lovely pictures, and our heads full of wonderful memories.
Now we are already thinking about our next unplanned tour.
By Jacobus Wolfaardt