Matjiesfontein is in the Great Karoo, a seemingly endless expanse of silent, semi-arid veld under huge skies, with mountains near and far, and baking, shuddering heat in the summer. The vastness and the isolation is haunting; it draws you closer when you are there and stays with you when you leave, whispering in your mind.
We drove from Matjiesfontein up the N1 to Laingsburg, leaving the town again on the R323 into endlessness, and then turned back to Matjiesfontein on a dirt road parallel to the N1. The Google Earth map gives a good idea of the folding of the mountains.
I am not a geology fundi but I understand this area is part of the Cape Fold Mountains and were created by the movement of tectonic plates squeezing the earth into folds – rather like looking for wrinkles when you are testing jam. The Witteberg Mountains were laid down c.300 million years ago.
The dirt road starts on a plateau before leading down into a valley between the Witteberg Mountains and a range of hills alongside the railway line and the N1.
We saw a few isolated farms, but no people.
The road went through one of the rock folds, towering over yet another dry river bed.
I saw a lot of these yellow bushes in the Karoo but I can’t find the name.
And continuing down the valley…
What a fabulously unforgettable day!