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Category “English – Northern Cape”

Northern Cape tour – Part 1

Monday, 20 July, 2015

First leg:  Montagu to Augrabies

Roete dag 1

[Map data © 2015 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

 

We left Cape Town on a sunny Friday afternoon after a week of rather good Cape Town winter weather.

Our first stop at Montagu still offered some benign weather.  Moving out earlyish on Sunday morning (12 July) it was a different story, though.  Through the  Keisie valley to the connection with the N1, temperatures dropped to 2 degrees.   Pretty chilly in our book.

We came on the N1 between De Doorns and Touwsriver, turning north.  A bit unsure of the fuel situation in the small towns we are to encounter for the rest of the day, I played it safe and filled up at Touwsriver.

Matjiesfontein

As we had to turn off at Matjiesfontein we decided to do a quick look and see tour of Matjiesfontein.

Pompe

The website  offers some insight on the history of Matjiesfontein.  It was founded in 1884 and became a Victorian health spa.

Post OfficeThe Lord Milner hotel was built in 1899 at the start of the Anglo-Boer war, and served as a field hospital, with some 10 000 British troops camping near the station.

Lord Milner hotel

Sutherland / Middelpos

From there we headed for Sutherland (population 2800).    The garage there was closed at that hour, so it was just as well that I filled up at Touwsriver.  We did a quick stop at the Sutherland hotel – it seemed like the only place where one could get access to ablution.

From there we took the gravel road to Middelpos and beyond.  The road was quite good.  Heeding some prior advice that the gravel roads in these parts of the Karoo have leiklip which is prone to mince up tyres,  I travelled slowly.  I was acutely aware of the fact that my Tucson was shod with highway tyres, rather than on/off road tyres, and limited my speed to 80km/h.  One could easily have gone faster.

Then we hit some muddy patches.  I tried to discern the muddy parts from the non-muddy parts, but of no avail.  There seemed to be no tell tale signs indicating which are the slimy bits.  You would just feel the car give way, and hear the noise of the mud clods hitting the inside of the wheel arches.   At one point we were going downhill with a bakkie approaching from the front, when the Tucson started slip sliding away.  Not due to any effort on my part the car kept on our half of the road and we safely went past the oncoming vehicle.  That was at 60km/h.  So I keep the gas to rather sedate levels for the rest of the road.

Modderkar

We missed Middelpos.  You had to turn off to get to the town.  Middelpos was evidently the stop over for a biggish motorcycle crowd.  We picked up the tail of this entourage as we went past the turn off, having had quite a number of bikes approaching from the front the previous few kilometers.

Afterwards I looked Middelpos up, and now I’m disappointed that I did not take the trouble of visiting the village.  There are some websites with detail about the town:

http://www.karoo-southafrica.co.za/?page_id=182

http://www.karoo-southafrica.co.za/?page_id=182

Middelpos rendered sir Anthony Sher, a famous British based actor.  OK, I’ve never heard of him, but I can’t even remember the names of the movie I watched last night, so my knowledge in this regard obviously does not count.

Just before we hit the R27 (the Calvinia – Keimoes road) we passed two vehicles standing next to the road.  One of them lost a tyre to the leiklip.

Brandvlei

From there onwards it was the tarred highway.  We filled up at Brandvlei again, and attended the Windpomp restaurant, that boasts to be the best pump in town.

Boesmanland Instap

It was Sunday afternoon, and only two other tables were taken when we got there.In die Windpomp

The man in charge had a slight situation with …

Northern Cape tour – Part 2

Monday, 20 July, 2015

Second leg:  Augrabies and Riemvasmaak

Augrabies National Park

We visited the park the next day.  Since we had been there some 11 years ago a number of new boardwalks and railed platforms had been erected, enabling you to see the waterfall from different angles.

Boardwalks

 

Railed platformAt some of these platforms we had to first shoo the dassies away to get on.

DassiesThey were reluctant to move.  Which I understand.  It was about 6 degrees Celsius, with a very chilly wind blowing. I detected a hint of distrust on the part of the dassies.

Nog dassies

The waterfall is an impressive 56 meters fall.  With the boardwalks one can view the fall from various angles.

Great NoiseAccording to the Sanparks website the Khoi people called it Aukoerebis, place of great noise.  Point taken.

We went on a drive through the park.  We did not do the whole drive, but visited the red granite moon landscape.

Maanlandskap

From there we went to mount Ararat.

AraratAnd then again to another lookout point, Oranjekom,  where there is a bend in the river.  So you see where it comes from, and where it is going.

Oranjekom

Near the camp a naughty little bugger was keeping a lookout for things to scavenge.  We saw him have a go at a window of one of the houses.  We saw the aftermath of him visiting the tented camps as well.  He was not popular.

Boggom

One day, this hairy guy will become a butterfly.  So I’m told.  The one below, I mean.Haarwurm

Quiver tree.Kokerboom

Night Drive

Dressed up like Eskimos we went on a one-and-a-half hour night drive the evening.

The dressing up turned out to be a good idea.  Some of the things that the guide stopped for us to savour is the Katabatic wind.  That is the name of the **** cold wind that blows at night.  Apparently this lovely wind also has a daytime name, the Anabatic wind.  Now you know.

The guide did his level best making the tour worth our while.  The hour-an-a-half turned into a three hour trip.   The guide did his best to make this an informative two-way discussion.  Fortunately my wife hates uncomfortable silences, so between her and the biology teacher on the tour with us, they kept the guide good company.  If they could just drive away the chill the way they did with the uncomfortable silences.

We saw Cape hares and bush hares, black thorn (swarthaak, which I misheard as swarthaas, much to the delight of my family), spotted eagle owl, kudu, klipspringer, a variation of reeds and bushes, which admittedly I also saw during my self-drive day drive, only without the benefit of running commentary on it.  And, of course, we were introduced to the ***** katabatic wind.  Quite a few times.  Actually, it was a pretty ongoing encounter.

Just on 22h00 the evening we were dropped off again at the parking area.  Kudos to the guide for a very nice tour, and for his endeavors to keep the occupants of the vehicle going in a language none were quite comfortable in.

English, she ees not beeg in Augrabies.

Riemvasmaak

Having done and seen all we came for at the Augrabies National Park, we decided to go find Riemvasmaak.

Riemvasmaak has a very politically laden history.  In about 1973 the Riemvasmakers were moved to make place for an army shooting terrain.  The Xhosa speaking part of the community was moved to the Eastern Cape, and the Nama speaking people to Namibia.  No amount of assuming can get met to a logical reason why they moved the Riemvasmakers so far away from their place.

In 1993 they were moved back there.  The Xhosa speakers were moved to Vredesvallei at the banks of the Orange river, and 17 km’s apart, the Nama people to the old mission station – that is where we went.

Riemvasmaak

[Imagery © 2015 TerraMetrics, Map data © 2015 AfriGIS (Pty)

Northern Cape tour – Part 3

Monday, 20 July, 2015

Third leg:  A Touch of Karoo

Kakamas

Or rather, the Pienk Padstal just outside Kakamas.

Returning from Riemvasmaak we attended the Pienk Padstal.

Pienk PadstalA rather interesting place, but why the call it the Pienk Padstal beats me, nuh.

Voor die Pienk padstal

Even the ablution turned out to be something to observe.  Or at least, the men’s side.  I did not attend the ladies’.  In the men’s there is a picture of a scantily clad beautiful lady sitting ugly.  With a notice next to it reading that management had been advised that this picture promotes pornography that may lead to nasty things.  So they implore the visitors to behave themselves.  And for gents not to flatter themselves and to rather stand closer to the urinal than they think is advisable.

Lilies

Binne

Niks het gebeur

Stylish wind chimes.Kakamas chimes

Kakamas itself looks like a biggish town.  With a population of some 9500 it is about as big as Calvinia.  How green is my valley would be an apt name.

Kakamas[Imagery © 2015 TerraMetrics, Map data © 2015 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

Here the Mas of Kakamas got the green light.

Mas van Kakamas

Passing the local high school I did not spot the not well marked speed bump until I took off in the direction of Jupiter.  The lift-off was hampered by gravity, though, which caused a swift and bumpy return to mother earth.

A touch of Karoo

The last leg of our tour entailed a visit to a Karoo farm.  Now picture this.  You live on a farm.  Your closest town is 75km’s away (population 3400).  Second closest town 80km’s away (population 2800), and your actual town (population 9700) is 135km’s away.  Imagine the school run.  Or the run to the shopping mall.  Or rather, don’t bother.  It does not exist.

Ok, so how to get there?

“You go past the Granaatboskolk turnoff.”

“There’s a place called Granaatboskolk?”

“Ja, but ignore the turnoff.  You look out for where you get the crossing to Breekbeenkolk and Tontelbos.”

“You’re making this up, right?”

“What, haven’t you heard of these places before?”

“Is that a trick question?”

“Sakrivierstation?”

“Huh?”

“Kooktjieskolk?”

“****-off!”

“OK, do you know where Calvinia is?”

“Yes, yes, yes!  I know where Calvinia is!”

“Ok, good.  It’s not near Calvinia.”

Sigh.

I’m telling you, the people who make a living here not only have hair on their teeth.  They shave the hair on their teeth.Ooie uitvang

Eskom?   Who’s that?  But please meet Mr. Lister.Lister The Lister is started as it had been done for the past sixty plus years.  By hand.  You (well, the farmer actually) cranks the handle, and then you get this chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-katak-katak-katakatakataka and off goes the one cylinder engine leaving you under a cloud of smoke which clears after a while.  And then there is light.

OK, in this instance the farmer went somewhat further with solar power and a battery pack.  So the Lister is just the back-up.

Electricity is self supplied.  Water is self supplied.  You make your own roads.  If you want a dam, you have to build it yourself.  All you need to do is to afterwards pay the government tax for the privilege of collecting water in your dam (no seriously, I kid you not).  If something goes seriously wrong here, it’s a 20 km drive just to get to the tar road.  Then you still need to get to town.  That the government can levy tax on farms such as this just beats me.  But sorry, I digress.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, the sixty year old Fairy anthracite driven oven (next to the gas stove) serves as a donkey for the sink hot water, and to bake bread in.Stoof

The Americans call biltong beef jerky.  And that is defined as dead dried meat, to be eaten “in times of hardship”.  Of course, in South Africa it is a delicatessen.  Go figure.  But on this farm it’s part of the staple food.  You begin your …