Posts tagged with “Calvinia”

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.


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


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.


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:

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.


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 a would be patron who wanted to join his friends already inside, but who was not welcome, apparently due to a well established history between the two of them.  The patron was shown the board that indicated that admission is reserved.  Instead of taking his cue as not being on the A-list, the would be patron was instead offended by the innuendo that he could not read.  He nevertheless departed, albeit begrudgingly.


We then hit the road for the final stretch to Augrabies.  It’s been a while since I have done such long distance travelling, but it has not lost its allure for me.

Kenhardt was doing their Sunday afternoon nap when we passed through.  Or maybe they just ignored us.  It must be my family.

I have difficulties getting the layout of Keimoes and Kakamas.  You have a bit of dorp, but then it seems to just go on and on and on with small farming establishments or businesses next to the road.

Especially once you pass through Kakamas you find these humongous warehouses / package storage, and massive pieces of covered citrus orchards and vineyards.

Kakamas omgewing

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

After passing through Kakamas we turned right on the road heading to the Augrabies National Park.  We went through Marchand, and a village with the name Augrabies.  I was surprised.  I thought the Falls carried the name Augrabies, but it would appear the whole area is Augrabies, with every second business sporting the prefix “Augrabies”.

Eventually we got to our destination at the Augrabies Falls Lodge and Camp some 7 kilometers from the Park.  The facilities were magnificent.  As the name indicate, they also have a camping area with very nice lawn and trees.  At that time there were no campers, but the next day some 7 identical canvas tents were pitched there, so I assume an overlander group made use of the facilities.

Part 2 to follow