Posts tagged with “Knysna”

To the East of the West

Saturday, 12 July, 2014

A little tour to the Eastern part of the Western Cape

Part 1 – Gouritsmond and Boggomsbaai

Departing from Cape Town on a chilly Sunday morning we made it for an arranged (no, really) nine-o-clock breakfast with friends at Worcester. When we pulled in there the muffins were ready, and the coffee machine was also just heating up.

The idea of the tour was to visit the Harkerville forest to see what it looks like. As my wife published a book that plays out in the Harkerville forest we thought it to be a good idea to just go check that it really looks like how she described it in her book. Incidentally it was a perfect occasion to stretch the legs of my newly acquired five-year old wheels in the form of a Hyundai Tucson.

After the little problem we had with my Mazda bakkie earlier the year I was under some pressure to replace it with something more reliable. However, it turned out that my second vehicle was far less likely to survive any length of time with any level of reliability, and hence we replaced same with the Tucson. I digress, but I cannot resist the urge to just mention that I am very happy that I now still have my 16 year old Mazda.

Following a good breakfast and even better company in Worcester, we departed for the remaining 270 kilometers of our journey for the day. It was in the midst of a cold snap that hit the Western Cape, with temperatures as low as 2° Celsius.

Kaap na Gouritsmond

Source:   Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google

We arrived at Gouritsmond just after two in the afternoon.  It then turns out that, it being  Sunday, and outside of season, both shops in the town have already closed for business for the day.



The friendly neighbour, who was also the lady who let us into the rented house, was kind enough to provide us with the necessary foodstuffs to make it through the rest of the day.   That is, of course, one of the charms of your small towns.

Within an hour of our arrival, however, I had to leave again to take our student daughter to neighbouring Kanon, a popular angling spot, to pick up her friends who were out on a hike, and take them all to Boggomsbaai where she would stay for the next few days.

Boggomsbaai huise

I afterwards found that Boggomsbaai even has its own website with some rather interesting postings.

On the beach at Boggomsbaai one could even find a spot to pitch your umbrella between the masses of people.


Back at Gouritsmond a short recce through the town revealed the damage done to the beach by the flooding of the river earlier this year (only days after we left having spent the summer holiday there).


What you see on the picture is meters of beach sand that had been taken away by the flooding waters, causing the water to now flow somewhat higher now as usual.

The local Municipality seemed hard at work.  Various heaps of driftwood had been collected from the beach and put aside.


And given the lack of tourists and the lack of  interest in swimming in the prevailing whether conditions, the plugs for the outlets of the tidal pool had been removed.

Leë getypoel

Of course I would have wanted to swim, but who can swim in such shallow water.  So I rather gave it a miss.

In between heavy bouts of doing nothing, I found the time to do some traffic spotting from our front stoep, just so that I can say I did not do nothing the whole holiday.

Traffic Spotting

The pictures says it all.  It was hugely exciting.  I like this place.


Part 2 to follow (with just as riveting action, trust me).


To the East of the West – Part 2

Saturday, 12 July, 2014

Part 2

Continuing our journey to and around the East of the Western Cape.

Harkerville and the Seven Passes Road

We sat a day aside to drive out to the Harkerville Forest to check things out.

Harkerville map[Source:   Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  –  You can click on the picture to enlarge it]

A short distance before we got to Harkerville, I recognised Garden of Eden on the left.  No, not from biblical times, but from the occasion when I was about 8 years old and we visited this forest.  I can remember that I quite liked the idea of wandering off on my own pretending to know where I am.  Until I got lost.

With the amused guidance from a guy who sat on a bench watching me running up and down, I eventually made it out of the woods.  Literally.  By that time I was having difficulties breathing as I had something like an asthma attack as a result of the trauma.  According to my wife this rather moving tale partly inspired some of the action in her book (which, included someone getting lost, of course).

The Forestry building at Harkerville.

Harkerville bosbou

Outside is a detailed map of the area.  I notice the one name as “Koffiehoekbos” (Coffee Corner Forest).  Sounds like my kind of corner of the forest.

Detail kaart Harkerville

There are various hiking trails, bicycle trails, and also horse trails.

Perdekop merker

Perdekop roete

Inside the forest you have a rather mysterious athmosphere.   The silence is audible, save for the Knysna Loeries that you can hear and see from time to time.




I have no idea what these things are, but it seemed like something out of Lord of the Rings.


Returning from Harkerville we decided to take an alternative route back.  Once past that last water mass to the West of Knysna, we turned off on a secondary road.  This road takes you a short distance to the interior where your travel on mostly gravel roads on a route that runs roughly parallel with the N2 in a Westerly direction.

Karatara pad[Source:   Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

The winding road runs through forests and forestry plantations, going through various passes.  The Phantom Pass, Homtini Pass, Karatara Pass, Hoogtekraal Pass.  You cross seven rivers if you do the full route, namely Swart, Hoogekraal, Homtini, Karatara, Silver, Kaaimans, and Touw. (Source:

On this road the settlement of Karatara is found, North of Sedgefield.

Karatara[Source:  Google streetview:  2014 Google Image Data: February 2010]

Apparently the woodcutters that were active in the forests had their licenses to fell trees revoked in 1939.  They had no other skills or place to stay, and the government moved them to Karatara that was established for them.

Woodville Yellow wood tree

At Woodville we turned off to go see the 800 year old yellow wood tree.

Woodville Geelhoutboom

The tree is said to be 33 meters high with a crown width of 34 meters, and a stem circumference of 12 meters.  By any description, this is a largish tree, I think.

A notice next to the tree pleads with the omnipresent assholes to not damage the yellow wood tree, but to rather carve their names on a tree designated for this purpose (the asshole tree?).

By the time we left the tree, light was failing, and we took the escape route South bound to the N2 via Hoekwil.  I think we missed a further few nice passes, but I did not want to traverse those with darkness falling.

We eventually arrived in Gouritsmond well after dark.  Living in the city causes one to become unaccustomed to real darkness.  It’s amazing to drive on the road running past Boggomsbaai and Vleesbaai on the way to Gouritsmond, and to experience the absolute darkness where there is no artificial lighting.

The seven passes road was an absolute delight.  The Tucson behaved exemplary.  I reckon I can safely say that a …