Klein Karoo and Route 62

Plettenberg Bay was no more than a stop over — a place to have dinner and lay our heads in the very pleasant Amakaya Backpackers with its en suite room, balcony terrace and tv in the room with the sports channels to catch the highlights of United beating City 2-1.

We breakfasted at The Lookout overlooking the bay and the group left fishing off the rocks. It was my first taste of the South African idea of the most important meal of the day that included steak and chips, as well as the usual bacon, sausage, eggs etc.

We then had another long drive along the coast with the cloud covered mountains on our right before turning north at George towards Oudtshoorn.

They say that there can be a remarkable change in the weather in just a few kilometres as you cross the mountains and this was certainly true this day. The mists and low cloud of the coast gave way to bright sunshine and searing heat. Looking back, the clouds seemed to pour down the mountains, like ice-cream slowly melting on a hot, chocolate pudding.

This was one of the sights I had look forward to — Kipling’s Little Karoo. It wasn’t sunset, but I could see what he meant by its “opal and ash-of-roses, cinnamon, umber and dun.

I was navigating, by which I mean I was setting the destination in Tom Tom. Given a choice between Oudtshoorn and Oudtshoorn Town, I plumped for the latter which promptly lead us into the township, close to the local industry, including the ostrich abattoir.

We found our way back into Oudtshoorn itself where the temperature was stifling and touching 40°. Being Sunday, pretty much everything was shut, but we found a pleasant early 20th century watering hole to refresh ourselves.

I quite liked the look of the town and would have liked to have had more time to explore, even if there was more sun than I’m partial to, but we still had a long to go to cross the Klein Karoo on the famous Route 62.

If I’m honest, it was the Great Karoo I really wanted to see, but that would have meant travelling even further north. And its little brother was stunning enough — long, straight roads crossing the flat plain surrounded on all sides by distant mountains.

The last staging post on the day’s itinerary is a definite must if you are travelling this way — Ronnie’s Sex Shop. This had caused Mrs P to raise an eyebrow when she spotted it marked on our AA touring map, commercialism gone mad we thought.

In fact, it is a bar just beyond Ladysmith and not a sex shop at all. It was originally just Ronnie’s Shop until friends of the owner thought they’d add the adjective as a joke. It has proved a lucrative prank because it is now a landmark and a must-see, particularly for bikers.

Ronnie himself was in residence and looking as we expected — in his sixties, black t-shirt, thinning on top, but with a long, grey ponytail.

We stayed long enough for me to drink a can of Coke and to photograph the mini-tractor to the right before setting off again towards the sun lowering in the late afternoon.

Route 62 began to climb back into the mountains and we eventually arrived in Montagu and the Malherbe guest house for our final night’s stay.

We were met by Micky, our host, and she showed to the most stylish and luxurious rooms we stayed in during our trip. Our room was set in a beautiful courtyard garden, quite European in its look, possibly because Micky and her husband were originally from Holland.

Our room was spacious and modern and had its own private, walled patio area, and a large pool awaited us to wash away the dust from the journey.

Montagu proved to be the most beautiful of the towns we visited, but more about that next time.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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