Some days on a road trip, the trip itself is the highlight. You relax, take your time, and savor the sights along the way. Day 11 of our Johannesburg to Cape Town road trip, The Hectic Route, where we Karoo-sed through the desert, was one of those days.
Today, we’re going to shut up and let the pictures do the talking (…but still included some captions so you know what the pictures are about).
6:00-8:30: Roaming Around Nieu Bethesda “Downtown” Nieu Bethesda. Note the warm clothes. It was 6 degrees Celcius this morning! Nieu Bethesda has perhaps the highest number of artist per capita in the country because it’s such an inspiringly funky place and it’s in the middle of nowhere so it keeps you focused. Nieu Bethesda’s Honesty Shop is open 24/7 because they trust you’ll leave money for what you take. Windmills everywhere around Nieu Bethesda and the Karoo. The world’s most broken down garage sale? So many funky facades in town. I mean, there are only like 50 buildings in the whole town, so there aren’t that many… but they’re all funky. Not sure why the distances are in miles. Either it’s an old sign, or they get a lot of American tourists here. 8:30-9:40: Local Artisanal Platter from Two Goats and a Deli No, we didn’t have beers at 8:30 in the morning. The microbrewery (which we went to yesterday) also has a deli, so we came for breakfast. Platter of locally-made cheeses, jams, pickles, and bread from Two Goats and a Deli. 70 rands each, including refills if you ask nicely. Highly recommended! The peacock would make a fitting mascot for Nieu Bethesda — colorful, weird, impractical, and attractive. 9:40-12:00: Driving from Nieu Bethesda to Willowmore Cape Town isn’t the only place with a Table Mountain. Off Nieu Bethesda’s gravel and back onto paved roads, but still in the middle of the desert. 12:00-13:11: Pit Stop in Willowmore and Sophie’s Choice “Where the wind blows – Karoo” Apparently the desert does weird things to your head. First Nieu Bethesda and now Willowmore is full of strange decorations that might give nightmares to people with too much imagination. Kim had the quiche of the day, which came with plenty of veggies on the side. Yum. 13:11-15:52: Driving to and Through Meiringspoort Pass The Meiringspoort Pass cuts narrowly through these mountains. A group of photographers we met in Nieu Bethesda told us we had to go through the pass, so we did… The whole, windy 10 km through Meiringspoort pass is flanked by incredibly colored and formed sheer rock faces. Even huge transport trucks look tiny compared to the cliff walls in the pass. You have to stay alert because there’s no way of seeing what’s around each corner. Some geologist needs to explain to us how the rock layers end up like this, going in all sorts of crazy directions. Too bad it was too chilly to go for a dip. By the waterfall we saw a rock hyrax, or “dassie” as it’s called in South Africa, on guard, protecting its litter of 6 pups. Out of the pass and approaching our destination of Prince Albert. 15:52-19:15: Hanging Out in Prince Albert Nieu Bethesda, where we were this morning, is the sibling that drops out of school and moves to some random place to become a struggling artist. Prince Albert, where we ended the day, is the more “mature” older sibling who went to art school and got a decent job working for a museum. The barn at Gay’s Guernsey, with the mountains the Meiringspoort pass cuts through behind it. We stayed at the Swartberg Cottages. The owners, Martiens and his mom, were exceedingly welcoming and helpful. Is was over 20 degrees, but hey a fire’s always nice. Not actually a beer studio. An unconventional pool table at the Bush Pub. Tiny home, Karoo-style. 19:15-21:15: Karoo Kombuis Dinner Bring your own wine to Karoo Kombuis a restaurant run by husband and wife from their home. Traditional Karoo cuisine is always on the menu at Karoo Kombuis. Eagerly awaiting my bobotie, chicken pie, and Karoo lamb platter… Here it comes! A delicious meal to put a perfect cap on a fantastic day Karoo-sing from Nieu Bethesda to Prince Albert. How to Have an Even Better South Africa Road Trip than Ours “Hamba kakuhle” means “bon voyage” in Xhosa.
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