Heading out of Cape Town on a Sunday afternoon, on our way to the spring flowers in the Karoo and Namaqualand.
First stop is the hot springs in Citrusdal, called The Baths. Soaking away the tensions of the previous week, it was a great 2 hour stop before moving on.
Clanwilliam dam was a sight to see, with all the sluice gates open trying to cope with all the rain and snow that had fallen the last weeks.
Moving into the sunshine, the flowers were out and everything was looking washed and shining.
Turning off the N7 at Vanrynsdorp (the home to the biggest aloe and succulent nursery in the country) and heading up and over Van Ryns Pass on the R27 to Nieuwoudtville. As you clear the pass, it is like a scene from Europe with pine plantations and lush vegetation. This gives way quickly to semi Karoo vegetation and lots of flowers.
Continuing on to Calvinia all the surrounding mountains are dusted with snow and rivers are running everywhere. The bustling town is the main economic centre for 100′s of kms around. Here the local doctor and his wife Alza have undertaken a remarkable restoration and preservation project by buying all the old historic buildings and turning them into period guest houses. They are truly beautiful and will appeal to both young and old.
Making Calvinia your base, there are numerous roads (all dirt but in great
condition) to take in all directions where you will be alone for hours with no passing vehicles and the most beautiful display of wild flowers. Plenty of antelope and the staple farming product, sheep, can be seen. At this time of the year there is no better place in South Africa.
A good tip is that it is unnecessary to make an early start as the flowers need a few hours to wake up and show their true colours. Plan your route so that you always have the sun behind you for maximum benefit of the flowers.
Turning back towards Cape Town, the R355 is another incredible road with changing landscapes all the time. Again all the mountain ranges were covered in snow and the fields carpeted in flowers. After hours of driving you can again count the cars on one hand.
The Tankwa Padstal, in the middle of nowhere, is worth a stop for a coffee and bite to eat.
The Tankwa Karoo National Park is accessed from this road and is well worth a visit. No cellphone and no internet connections, just open spaces and nature at its best.
Back on the N1 highway, you are all too soon back in the big towns.
Stopping at Fairview wine farm turned out to be the cherry on the top of a wonderful 3 days away. Stunning cheeses, wines and a world class restaurant made for a lovely afternoon before returning to city life!