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Posts tagged with “Augrabies”

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

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