If time off plus clear blue skies equals road trip in your reckoning, then we think you should tear up the black top on Route 62 – one of the most iconic drives South Africa has to offer.
Extending from Cape Town, through the Klein Karoo and off into the Eastern Cape, there’s plenty to see along this stretch of tarmac. We’ve narrowed down the top stops in the Western Cape so now all you need is that road trip playlist.
Stop 1: Madeba
My apologies to the designated driver, but you can’t blow through Robertson without visiting the home of Graham Beck. They produce a number of still wines that rake in Platter’s stars on an annual basis. Stop for a tasting here in the elegant tasting room, or phone ahead to arrange a cellar tour.
Stop 2: Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary
There’s nothing like an animal success story, and this non-profit rehab centre for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys is real heartstring-tugging stuff. Here you can pet the loveable residents, learn about the Eseltjiesrus efforts to help equines in distress, and have a smashing pancake in the tea room – now that’s an all-rounder.
Stop 3: Klipdrift
By now Designated Dave is probably regretting his decision to spend the day behind the wheel. At Klipdrift, the home of one of SA’s favourite brandies, you can choose between a sweet and savoury tasting. Distillery tours are also on the cards, so you can experience brandy-making according to the specifications of Klipdrift’s original owner, JP Marais.
Stop 4: Joubert House
Dating back to 1853, this house museum in Montagu offers a glimpse into 19th-century farm life in the area. Step out of the back door and you’ll find an indigenous medicinal plant garden, the result of 22 years of research into the oral traditions of the area, including those of the Khoi and San. With 120 plant species, it’s of special interest to botanists and pharmacologists.
Stop 5: A bite in Barrydale
What’s a list of pit stops without some country nosh? Barrydale may be a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ small town, but it’s home to a couple of colourful eateries, conveniently located right beside Route 62. Tuck into lunch at the wonderfully named Karoo be Vo(l)k, but if it’s closer to tea time head to Jam Tarts, for pancakes and ice cream. They’ll set you back a whopping R12!
Stop 6: Ronnies Sex Shop
There’s no need to cover the children’s eyes as you speed past – Ronnie’s actually has nothing of the triple-x variety. Originally intended as a fresh produce shop, things took a different turn when Ronnie’s friends played a prank on him by painting a new sign one night. Today it’s a roadside pub and grub that retains a little of its naughty origins in the form of years of (usually autographed) undies suspended from the ceiling.
Stop 7: Warmwaterberg Spa
Give Dave a break and spend the night here for some real country R&R. This mineral hot spring, between Barrydale and Ladysmith, is 44ºC at the source and is said to have restorative properties. With self-catering accommodation and a restaurant, bar and off-sales shop, it’s finally time to kick back with a cold one, in a warm one.
Stop 8: Calitzdorp
According to UN naming right, we’re no longer allowed to call Calitzdorp the Port Capital of South Africa. (We’re not technically allowed to call anything we make ‘Port’.) But this tiny Klein Karoo town is still worth a visit for its – ahem – Cape Ruby and Cape Tawny. Buy a few bottles at the source to take home with you.
Stop 9: Groenfontein
Literally off the beaten path, Groenfontein is an artist’s bolt hole that’s just a short, bumpy, gravel road away from Calitzdorp. Here’s where you’ll find a few farms, a B&B or two and various artists, including ceramicist Clementina van der Walt. It’s hot, hot, hot here in summer (so make sure you book somewhere with a splash pool at least), but it’s about as far away from civilisation as you could wish to be.
Stop 10: Oudtshoorn
The UN hasn’t interfered with our rights to call Oudtshoorn the Ostrich Capital of the World – yet. These tall, shaggy birds are nothing if not first-class citizens here, and their eggs, feathers and meat are big business. Keen to get up close? At the various ostrich farms you can see, interact with or even ride them.
Photography courtesy and Jade Taylor Cooke