(For the previous blog of this trip see post here)
Day 7: Calvinia to Lambertsbay
Our night in the Hantam town of Calvinia was rather cold but we survived and after breakfast headed west towards Van Rhynsdorp. At Nieuwoudtville we filled up with petrol and visited the nearby waterfall. This fall only runs after heavy rains and is truly spectacular so if you pass by make sure to go check it out!
We continued down the marvelous Van Rhyns Pass. It offers amazing views over the flatland of Namaqualand with the scenery rapidly changing as you enter the Olifants River Valley. The sudden heat of Vredendal was quite a shock! We made a quick pit stop at the local bike shop to try and improvise a substitute for the damaged top chain roller.
From Vredendal the road winds along the Olifant River, where we paused at the majestic train bridge en-route to Lutzville. The bridge is part of the 861km rail between Sishen and Saldanha Bay used for transporting iron ore. In 1989 a historic bid for a place in the Guinness Book of Records as having run the "longest and heaviest train ever assembled" was made when a 7.281km long train consisting of 660 ore trucks, nine electric locomotives, seven diesel engines and three other cars made the journey!
Upon entering Lutzville we swung past my Alma Mater where Lisa was amazed to see vineyards and orchards surrounding the old school buildings. It was quite an eye-opener for the city girl and she found it hard to imagine me growing up there in such a small town.
We had a quick cool drink at local hotel bar after which we went around the area and I pointed out a few more places which I could remember from schooldays. It was remarkably boring.
From Lutzville we headed towards Strandfontein and on the way stopped at Papendorp for a quick photo. Strandfontein is part of the Namaqualand Wild Flower Route and all around the district wild flowers can be seen during August and September. Strandfontein is a beautiful and relaxing seaside village and it’s well worth spending some time there.
We took a gravel road from Strandfontein past Doringbaai on to Lambertsbaai for our overnight stay where we booked into a wonderful guesthouse before heading out for dinner.
One thing that you cant help but notice in small tows is the seemingly never-ending competition between Coke and Castle to supply every shop, café and restaurant with giant signboards. It’s terribly tacky - in Lamberts Bay it seems to be the rule rather than the exception. If we had to walk/drive past our choice of restaurant without it being suggested to us, we would’ve NEVER gone there! From the ‘road’ it seems a rather dilapidated shed with shells on the floor and plastic furniture. The food turned out excellent though and the evening was good fun. Go check out Isabellas in the harbour when you're in the area.
Day 8: Lambertsbay to Langebaan
Before leaving Lamberts Bay we took a walk along the harbour wall and also visited Bird Island Nature Reserve where the blue-eyed Cape Gannet breeds. The best part was seeing them fly. They are rather clumsy compared to seagulls and need a headwind or some ‘runway’ to become airborne!
The wind was giving it’s all but steadily we made our way towards Langebaan along the coastal road past Elandsbaai. We paused for a late lunch in Veldrift. It seemed to be just in time as the only two shops closed seconds later - right on cue. Apparently the closest supermarket is in Vredenburg – more than 30min drive away. The joys of small town living! We had a perfectly peaceful and scenic picnic next to the lagoon on some of the jetty’s. As the wind kept getting stronger we decided against the initial route past Paternoster and proceeded directly to Langebaan for our final overnight stop.
It was a very cold, unpleasant night but we got lucky to find a table a nice and cozy restaurant. It was good be back in civilization!
Day 9: Langebaan to Stellenbosch
The plan was to cruise via Yzerfontein as Lisa has never been there - it’s a rather quaint little place which really has grown considerably since I’ve last been there 10 years before. It’s a pity there’s no beach to speak of, else it would have been a perfect weekend destination.
From Yzerfontein we headed further into the Swartland and briefly stopped in at Evita’s Peron in Darling. Evita se Perron is an attraction like no other in the small town of Darling. Here visitors can be entertained by South Africa’s most famous white woman, Evita Bezuidenhout, Pieter-Dirk Uys’s alter ego. Under Apartheid, Uys used the medium of humour and comedy to criticise and expose the absurdity of the South African government's racial policies.
In retrospect we should’ve stayed in Darling for lunch but with bigger and better things in mind we skipped through Malmesbury and took the turn-off to Riebeek Kasteel. Neither of us have been there before and from what I understood it’s a rather charming little town with welcoming bistro’s and coffee shops. What we didn’t know was that there was some sort of festival and the town was bursting at its seams.
We eventually gave up looking for a table at a restaurant and left Riebeek Kasteel without having lunch but it was a short hop from there to Stellenbosch and we stopped off at one of our local favourites instead to end the trip!