Today was our final lengthy drive in South Africa – 283 kms from Oudtshoorn to Swellendam, starting at 12.00am. I felt sad as I looked back on the Swartberg Mountains above Oudtshoorn, then we turned towards the Outeniqua Mountains above George and the long road ahead.
We drove over the Outeniqua Pass, a new road dating from 1951 and an easy drive this day. The neighbouring Montagu Pass would have been more fun, but perhaps not with our limited time and ordinary car! The Outeniqua Mountains are part of the Cape Fold Mountains – I can’t being to imagine the force which created these chains of rock.
We didn’t linger in George but continued down the coast road to Mossel Bay to visit the Bartholomew Dias Museum Complex.
Bartholomew Dias reached Mossel Bay on 3 February 1488 while trying to find the sea route to India. He turned back shortly afterwards and it was Vasco da Gama who completed the trip to India in 1497-99. The Museum has a full-size replica of Dias’ ship.
The Post Office Tree, a means of sailors exchanging mail, dates from 1500 – how extraordinary that anyone believed a letter would be collected here at all!
We wandered around the Munrohoek Cottages which were built by Alexander Munro c.1830, and noticed there were some pretty plants in the gardens surrounding the museum. Then it was time for an ice cream by the sea before joining the road again.
Finally, we saw the Langeberg Mountains behind Swellendam, and the cottage at Roosje van der Kaap – our haven for the next few days!
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A trip through the Outeniqua Mountain Passes
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