ROUTE 62

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March 3, 2014 by DAVE JACK

Route 62 actually starts in the Eastern Cape but it is the stretch between Oudtshoorn and Montagu that is best known.

Both Oudtshoorn and Montagu have plenty of accommodation and I would choose one of the very nice guesthouses in both the towns. Oudtshoorn is a good place to start and to spend a day or two. Not far from the town of Oudtshoorn itself are the Cango Caves and certainly worth a visit. A trip into the main chamber is amazing and there are guides who will explain all the formations of stalacmites and stalactites. For the more adventurous and less claustrophobic you can go further into the caves but this means crawling through very narrow passages.

Also on the road between the Cango Caves and Oudtshoorn you can find various ostrich farms that offer such things as ostrich riding.

In the area plenty of eating places offering a wide variety of ostrich meals from steaks to burgers and biltong. They say that one should eat an ostrich steak as one would a normal steak but for me the best way is medium rare and with a mild mustard sauce. Now that is very yummy!

Let’s leave Oudtshoorn and head onto Route 62 towards Montagu.  The countryside for most of the way is the Karoo and for me it is one of the most serene parts of South Africa. Some people would have you believe that the Karoo is boring but if you look carefully at the vegetation that changes all the time and the rock formations, it is anything but boring.

The first town you get to from Oudtshoorn is Calitzdorp and the next one is Ladismith. Both small towns mainly serving the farming community in the area and most of the farms are sheep farms. It’s the stretch of road between Calitzdorp and Ladismith that is really spectacular. On that stretch of road is the Huisrivier Pass.  It’s one of those places that you never tire of seeing with the red looking mountains reaching high into the sky and dropping far below the road.  There are brick paved parking areas where you can stop for photo opportunities and you have to virtually force yourself back into your car and drag yourself away from the raw and magnificent beauty of it all.

After Ladismith you drive through the Karoo I spoke about until you get to Barrydale but it’s a short distance before Barrydale that must be your next stop and that is the famous Ronnies Sex Shop. A pub in the middle of nowhere that has become a favourite stopping place for visitors.  When you walk into Ronnies the first thing you see are hundreds if not thousands of names of visitors written on the walls and ceilings and if you ask the person behind the bar, and that is often Ronnie himself,  for a pen and if you can find space you can add your name to those already there.

Leaving Ronnies Sex Shop, Barrydale is your next little town with a couple of places to stop for lunch.  When you leave Barrydale you have two choices. You can continue along Route 62 to Montagu or you can turn off and travel down the Tradoux Pass. Very different from our earlier Huisrivier Pass but equally stunning. At the bottom of the pass the tiny village of Suurbrak and it sits alongside the N2 from Cape Town.  Turn towards Swellendam and if you didn’t stop for lunch in Barrydale,  Swellendam has plenty of good eating places.

After leaving Swellendam it’s over yet another pass and down through the mountains to the absolutely charming town of Montagu.

The route I have spoken about is just a little under 400Km so plenty of time to stop at the places I have mentioned.

Enjoy Route 62. It’s certainly worth the trip.

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