Knysna – Oudtshoorn – Calitzdorp – Ladismith – Barrydale – Montagu – Robertson – Worcester – Paarl – Cape Town
On a recent trip to South Africa, we travelled one of South Africa’s most scenic drives – Route 62.
While based in Knysna we planned to spend a few days in Cape Town. The direct route from Knysna to Cape Town is just over 5 hours driving time, or 480kms, on the N2 – the coastal road. However we love to travel inland – along Route 62 – a much more scenic trip with majestic mountains, country landscapes and charming towns along the way.
The entire length of Route 62 runs from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town (850km). However, leaving from Knysna, we travelled across to Oudtshoorn and picked up Route 62 there. All up it is about a seven hour drive (530kms) to Cape Town this way however it’s a good idea to build in time for stopping along the way.
From Knysna, we firstly drove along the coast through Wilderness then at George we crossed the spectacular Outeniqua Pass to begin Route 62 on the road between Uniondale/Oudtshoorn.
Oudtshoorn is an attractive rural town in the Little Karoo region and is known for its ostrich breeding farms. In the late 1880s there was huge demand for ostrich feathers and the ostrich boom resulted in many fine ‘Feather Palaces’ which can still be seen today throughout the town. There is plenty to do and see in Oudtshoorn and it even warrants staying a day or two to take in the sites.
Oudtshoorn attractions include:
Safari Ostrich Show Farm
Highgate Ostrich Show Farm
Cango Wildlife Ranch
Cango Ostrich Farm
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge
CP Nel Museum
Calitzdorp – Ladismith – Barrydale
From Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp it is a beautiful 45kms drive through Klein Karoo scenery with mountain vistas in the distance.
Calitzdorp lies in the Klein Karoo Wystreeh Wine Region and is particularly well known for its port. There are five wineries to visit at Calitzdorp – Boplaas (www.boplaas.co.za), Axe Hill (www.axehill.co.za), De Krans (www.dekrans.co.za), Withoek and Calitzdorp Cellar (www.calitzdorpwine.co.za). Every year in May Calitzdorp hosts a Port & Wine Festival.
The drive from Calitzdorp to Barrydale is beautiful and takes us through the Huis River Pass. At Zoar there are lovely views over the valley and orchards. We continue through mountain scenery, see a sign “Welcome to Brandy Country” and arrive in Ladismith. Ladismith Cellar is a good spot to try the local wines and brandy. This is also a fruit growing area and has large canneries plus two cheese factories including Parmalat.
We continue on towards Barrydale. The countryside is changing and looks more like the Greater Karoo, undulating and dry.
Travelling through this beautiful country scenery, literally ‘in the middle of nowhere’, it is quite a surprise to see splashed across the white wall of a building: “Ronnies Sex Shop”. We had been told about Ronnie’s and the story goes that when Ronnie was setting up a farm stall business, his mates painted the sign as a joke. It’s actually a pub and a good place for breakfast, lunch, coffee or a cool drink. We order toasted sandwiches from the ‘Roadkill Café’ menu and enjoy a half hour sitting at an outside table taking in the view.
Continuing on, there are beautiful views over Barrydale from Route 62. We don’t stop in Barrydale but continue on through mountainous landscapes, valleys and orchards of apples, pears, apricots and peaches. We see a sign “Welcome to Cape Wine District” as we approach Montagu.
The small town of Montagu is one of the prettiest on Route 62 with its charming historic homes, wine cellars, farm stalls, restaurants and cafes. It is worth stopping to wander and browse or stay overnight – there is plenty of accommodation in Montagu to choose from. Attractions include natural hot mineral springs, museums, an arts/craft route, 4×4 routes, fishing, hiking, rock-climbing and abseiling.
Leaving Montagu, we pass through the little Cogmanskloof tunnel and drive through the Cogmanskloof Pass to Ashton – a particularly pretty road with views of mountains and vineyards. We drive through Ashton, a centre for fruit canning and wine. Within 20 minutes we arrive in Robertson.
Robertson is an attractive town with tree lined streets and some fine buildings. If you are here in November the jacarandas lining the streets make a beautiful sight.
Robertson is the gateway to the Robertson Wine Valley – taking in the towns of Ashton, Montagu, Bonnievale, McGregor. There are over 50 wineries to explore and 4 wine festivals during the year – in February, June, August and October. Together with its natural beauty, fine food and wine, arts & crafts and plentiful accommodation – it is a place that you may want to spend a night or two.
From Robertson it is just over a half hour drive to Worcester. On the way there are a couple of attractive farm stalls on the left hand side – one of which had an amazing display of pumpkins!
Worcester has a very pretty setting – with views of mountains all around. Of interest here is the Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens (best time to visit is between August and end-September), and the Worcester Wine & Olive Route (www.worcestertourism.com/wine_route.php).
From Worcester to Paarl we drive through the spectacular Du Toits Kloof Pass. It is late afternoon as we travel this road and the colours are stunning. To take the Pass to Paarl, detour off the N1 at exit 72 onto the R101. If you are in a hurry continue on the N1 and take the Hugeunot Tunnel which will take 11km off your trip to Paarl.
Paarl lies in the beautiful Cape Winelands and is the third oldest town in South Africa.
It is a beautiful town with much to see and do. On this particular occasion we have made an accommodation booking in Cape Town so have to carry on – with just a very short time in Paarl. However, if you have the time, stay a while to explore the historical sights, wineries and architectural heritage of Paarl. Or better still, plan a trip to the Cape Winelands (including Stellenbosch, Franschoek and Paarl) and stay a few days to explore the whole area.
From Paarl it is about a 40 minute drive to Cape Town – our final destination on Route 62.