We left Oudtshoorn late morning to drive the 238 kms to Swellendam on the tarred R62, then turned off on a quieter, concrete road, heading for Calitzdorp. The concrete road was the original road between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp and the first such road in South Africa, dating from the 1930s; the R62 was built in 1978. It was to be a spectacular day which I would love to repeat!
Calitzdorp is an old town in a port-producing area. It has a huge church which the organist in Graaff Reinet had mentioned to us – sadly the church was not open – but we walked round the old town and this is just a quick view – another post to come.
The R62 climbed out of the town through the rugged 13.5 km Huis River Pass – I would have loved to linger with a good camera… The name apparently means ‘willow tree’ and is derived from the Khoi. This is the river which created Seweweekspoort, another pass through which I would love to drive. Today’s road was only completed in 1966 although a way through the mountains was found as early as 1807 – there is an interesting history of the pass here.
Ladismith was the next stop, for coffee, but we were soon on the road again as the driver was anxious about the distance still to be covered – and so my scone came with me… The landscapes between Ladismith and Barrydale were just amazing. It was a hazy day, and I only had the point-and-press camera from inside the car so you can imagine the photographs which could be taken with time and a good camera – and standing outside!
Barrydale has a reputation as an arty town and we took a quick look before continuing on our final leg of the journey that day – through the Tradouw Pass to Suurbraak and Swellendam. It was the end of the day and the hazy sunshine added to breathtaking beauty of the mountains. I would have loved to stop and linger with a good camera, however… The pass is 14 kms and was built in 1873 by Thomas Bain – another post to come because it was stunning.
Finally Swellendam came into view – another extraordinary day in South Africa!
Mountain passes of South Africa is an outstanding site, but now most of its information is only accessible through subscription