Friday, 16 January 2015

Adventures Through The Northern Cape And Beyond

I won't lie, I am a bit fuzzy about the long stretches of road and no pit stops in my first post - road tripping to Paternoster. Should I be worried that I have already forgotten where we stopped and the names of the towns? All my adult life, I have wanted to do proper travel diaries of our holidays, before blog days even, but I never have.

I do know that we drove 650km on the N14 and then 500km on the R27. We drove through all these little towns that flashed by in a blink of the eye and you literally missed the town if you just closed your eyes for a minute. We stopped in Brandvlei and filled up with diesel again and I was so relieved that they had toilets. You had to pay R2.00 and go through a turnstile, but I could understand why - there were so many "hang abouts" at the centre. At every single place we stopped, we had beggars descend on us in drones as we stopped. Giving one person money just caused others to come out of nowhere and hound us aggressively for money. We bought cold drinks and then it was back on the long never ending road. I think Brandvlei was before the oasis in the middle of the arid land and the oasis may have been called Keimos. If you know the area and I have it all wrong, please let me know in the comments.

The only interesting thing along the road was the multitude of swallow nests on the telephone/electricity poles and in trees along the road. They were massive and looked like a thatch roof. All these photos were taken through the window as we were driving by.

We have a truly beautiful country and even the dry arid countryside has a beauty of its own. I think this was the R27 - at a point I thought I would make notes on my Blackberry memo pad, but then forgot to carry on as our trip became more adventurous.

We drove and drove and drove on this never ending road with nothingness in our sites as the fuel light came on indicating that our very thirsty vehicle was parched and needed a refuel. It did push the anxiety levels up a bit, because running out of diesel on this deserted road would be no joke, then we remembered the bikes had a full tank of petrol and we had jerry cans and Mark could have gone on his bike to the nearest town to buy diesel.

Chad checked on the Garmin for the closest filling stations and there was one closer than it seemed. The vegetation became more green and less dry and dead.

.......... And then on the smell of diesel fumes we reached the Petrol Station.

I am not sure what the heading on the sign is in English, but the rest is -

  • Tuisgebak - Homemade (goods/eats/food)
  • Lekkernye - Sweets
  • Vars Melk - Fresh Milk
  • Koeldrank - Coldrink
  • Biltong - Is similar to Beef Jerky I think - Dried Salted Meat
  • Wegneem-Etes - Takeaways/Take Out.

We bought coldrinks and really fresh cheese ham and tomato sandwiches, not at this eccentric shop in the picture above, but at the shop next door. It was the first thing we had to eat since the Steers Toasted Sandwiches we had in the morning, many kilometers before. We also first made a beeline for the toilets and then made our way. By then we had done according to my estimation over 1000km's. Mark used to have an app on his phone and he kept a record of his fuel consumption, but he is not an "app" person and gave it up, so we had no idea how many kilometers we had done, what the fuel consumption really was and no one even bothered with the time.

Thank goodness for car air conditioning, because we were oblivious to the suffocating dry heat of the Northern Cape and our stops were too short for the heat to bother us before getting into an ice cold car again. The next leg of our journey was the R364 in Calvinia or on our way through Calvinia. We were following the GPS and our destination was now in the Garmin and suddenly we were on a dirt road. The dirt road just carried on and on. Chad checked the Garmin and we were on the right road and the sand road was the R364. The road was a 100km's long and 100km's does not seem long compared to the long 500km road until you drive it. The surrounding area still looked much the same as the R27.

You know you live in South Africa when the main road connecting two provinces is a dirt road - where the tar road comes to a dead stop and "no man's land" is ignored. However in hindsight, perhaps excavating and building a proper road will spoil the natural beauty of the mountain pass. Whilst driving on the road, I never thought that, as there were some hair raising moments.

The above picture was taken at the Botterkloof Pass - yes we drove around that narrow road with a trailer and two motorbikes on the trailer and two mountain bikes. Our Mazda Drifter is not a 4X4, it is a 2X4 with difflock and there were quite a few passenger vehicles along the road as well. Initially we thought we were the only "adventurers" on this remote mountain pass.

Mark bought a new Camp Master Fridge, because our other one we had, belonged to the Landrover and was sold with the Landrover. The new one had a remote adapter that plugged into the socket in the front of the car, so that you can check that your fridge/freezer is working all the time. Initially, the fridge connection in the load body was messing around and we had to stop a few times so Mark could tinker with the connection, but by the time we got to Delareyville a couple of hours into our trip, it never disconnected again. We thought we would have hassles with the fridge on the dirt road, but the connection in the load body never once came loose and our meat had no risk of being ruined by the scorching heat and sun beating down on our vehicle.

I have to say our trip down to Paternoster was the most exciting and adventurous day of our very laid back holiday. We laughed and joked so much along this road that tears were rolling down our cheeks. There was a car behind us at one stage and I am sure they must have thought we were crying as we crossed the narrow bridges and rounded the steep corners with sheer drops down the side.

More photos of Botterkloof Pass and Pakhuis Pass to follow in the next post.

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