January 2018 Wilderness – Garden Route – Western Cape RSA

A weeks getaway from the drought-stricken Cape Town area – everyone is fed up with life here at the moment. We leave early and actually make it all the way through Somerset West with all traffic lights green ! Unbelievable. Traffic is light, 3 stop and go
roadworks between Riviersonderend & Swellendam and two are in our favour which makes for a quick travel time to Swellendam where we are glad to stop for breakfast and then to get off the N2 going up through Suurbraak and Tradouws Pass to join the R62, a favourite route.

We travel the R62 to Oudtshoorn and the clouds are looking very dark and sure enough coming down the N12 Outeniqua Pass to George (motor prefix CAW – “cold & Wet”) true to form it rains. We have not seen rain for sometime ! It is however warm.

We arrive late in the afternoon after a leisurely drive at SanParks Ebb & Flo South Camp where we have booked a chalet for the week to use as a base to better explore the area. EBB & FLO We stayed here last May just for the night (the day of the big fire) and decided that we wanted to come back and spend time doing the forest mountain tracks & passes – we were last here 10 years ago.

Gosh after our dead garden everything is so green and there is so much water everywhere – that’s before you talk about the beach & the sea – Truly a “Garden of Eden”

We travel the back roads to Knynsa (a spoilt, ruined, over-crowded town in our opinion) to visit old CT neighbours of ours plus our Africa travelling friends who have also retired here (no comment) and it takes ex Jhb people to tell us about Jubilee Creek up in the mountains. We arrange to meet & have a braai here in two days time. My new Garmin 276XC is a dead loss, it finds nothing useful whereas my old 276C comes to the party and finds the track for me – the only good thing about the new 276Xc is the screen, for the rest it is a step backwards. I am very pleased we kept the old one.

We have a lovely day and braai that night back at Ebb & Flo – this is a super nice place to be and whilst there are many campers in both North & South Camp it is not over-crowded and quiet at night.

We decide to do a round trip, so head back to George on the 7 Passes Road and go up the Montagu Pass – very narrow in places – which makes passing other vehicles interesting; coming out at the N9 which we follow to Uniondale (a very pretty & nice little village) for the inevitable coffee stop at the Aloe products shop and thence down to Avontuur and the magnificent Prince Alfred Pass.

Picnic stop on Price Alfreds Pass – just the sound of birds 🙂

The SanParks Wilderness area of the Garden Route is actually a huge number of areas and forest tracks and we spend time going from dirt road to Forest Village and bird hides to water side locations, it has to said that off the main roads it is a real paradise.

And so to Jubilee Creek – see map – what a jewel of a place this is – you climb up quite high and eventually come to a reception boom where if you don’t have a Wildcard (and why wouldn’t you ?) you pay for entrance. And then you continue climbing up a narrow gravel path, there are 3 sections, so plenty of space and Jubilee Extn is the 2nd – The old mine at the top being the highest – what fun they must have had getting the equipment up there all those years ago.

We have our braai at Extn 2 – we have it all to ourselves – breathtakingly beautiful – it is a madly hot day today but all is cool up under cover of the forest and the stream.

After lunch we drive up to where the mine was – you can just imagine what joy this was in horizontal rain in winter !

Portable ? me, I don’t think so

On the route – very funny (not)

On our way back to Ebb & Flo we notice that the fridge between the front seats is not working – bummer – checking the main aircon, we find that this is off too ! We stop off the next day at the Shell in Sedgefield where a very-overworked garage mech has a look and tries to fix it – no joy – have to leave it until we get home. After all the badly pot-holed and corrugated tracks we have been on in the last ten years I’m really not surprised – it is a testament to Toyota that the build of the 100VX and other Landcruisers is simply so good. Something has got to break sometime eventually.

Back at Ebb & Flo.

At the nearby Birdhide

It’s a rainy day the next day so we decide to take a slow drive down to Belvedere nr Knysna and work our way back going down as many turn-offs as we can down towards the sea.

It is interesting to see how capricious the fire was last May, some houses completely destroyed some seemingly untouched. Swathes of land burnt and yet other areas greener than green – Scary stuff.

Buffalo Bay – check the burnt bush around

Sedgefield is no longer the small village of yore – it has two very distinct sections – up near the N2 older chalets, shacks & modest properties – down at the sea in the “Swartvlei” section it is “Sandton by the Sea” with the usual megalomaniacs palaces all jostling to look more wealthy than their neighbours – go figure – “Oh we have this shack at the beach” (not). One thing we noticed was the number of “For Sale” notices and wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that they have level 3 water rationing and given the population explosion here possibly there is a problem looming in the not too distant future ? It has to said however that the scenery is very relaxing and you are far from the N2 nightmare.

Miss Haversham’s weeds ?

Meanwhile back at the birdhide – Get OFF my perch !

We went back to Sedgefield down at the beach that evening for supper as we had seen a sign for fresh fish – this turned out to be rather interesting – indeed the fish was fresh and excellent – however the restaurant was a “Rasta Joint” and somewhat noisy. All of the patrons were over 50 and we were all amused by the “left field we had been thrown” – It was fun and different !

Sundown at the beach

As we had used up our braai wood we had room to buy 8 x 5 litres bottles of water to bring back to CT given that there is fighting in the shops at the current time and people are being limited to 4 bottles only (what a disgrace this whole situation is)

Anyway just to rub it in it poured with heavy rain the whole night and the journey home along the N2 was rain all the way to Swellendam, then heavy humid clouds to Sir Lowry’s Pass and then the heat hit us at the bottom of the pass for the last 60Kms home.

A Breeze of Windmills N2 – Gotta have a windmill in a trip report 🙂

And so to home:-

All good – nice trip – pity about the drought back home – have turned the swimming pool into a water storage area. Total distance travelled about 1700 Kms 🙂

PHOTO ALBUM AT : – Photo Album

Some of the Passes completed: Sir Lowry’s Pass, Houwhoek Pass,Langhoogte Pass, Tredouw Pass, Huis River Pass, Outeniqua Pass, Montagu Pass, Zwartrivier Pass,
Silver river Pass, Touw Rivier Pass, Hoekwill Pass, Seven Passes Road, Hoogekraal Pass, Karatara Pass, Homtini Pass, Phantom Pass, Prince Alfred Pass. Old Cape Road.