Route 62 in Western Cape
Inland Route East:
Driving distance: Approximately 600 - 700 km.
Suggested minimum travelling time: 4 Days
Characterised by the wide open spaces of the Karoo and defined by the dramatic mountains which divide the dry interior from the wetter coastal regions, the Inland Route East - Route 62 - is the quieter, alternate route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
And it's one that every type of travel-ler will enjoy.
With few major centres along the way, this is the perfect road to follow if you're looking for the real rural South Africa. It has come to known as the World's Longest Wine Route weaving through the wine regions of Paarl, Wellington, Tulbagh, Worcester, Robertson and the Little Karoo - and some of the country's most spectacular agricultural fields. Along the way you'll see grapes, deciduous fruit and olives - and miles and miles of untouched open space.
Naturally the wine cellars of Route 62 are major attractions. But remember that this is the quieter route, dotted with small towns and friendly villages where you'll be invited to relax, rejuvenate and explore - and to enjoy scenic experiences like mountain biking, hiking and canoeing and cultural attractions like museums, galleries and quaint arts and crafts stores.
But above all you'll find tranquillity - and that's why we invite you to travel slowly along Route 62. To revel in a total peace and quiet that's almost lost to this hurly-burly modern world.
From Cape Town take the N1 north to Paarl - regarded by many as one of South Africa's leading wine producing regions. It's also becoming something of a golfing destination and followers of the Royal and Ancient game will find themselves challenged and pampered at a number of first-class courses.
Paarl - Wellington:
It's a short 9 kilometres from Paarl to Wellington, which, for many South Africans, is synonymous with the dried fruit for which our country is justifiably famous.
Wellington - Tulbagh:
From Wellington, take the R44 via Hermon and Gouda to Tulbagh. Boasting the oldest wine co-op - and also the oldest flower show in South Africa - and set in a truly dramatic mountain setting, Tulbagh is steeped in 300 years of history and culture with an impressive selection of old Cape Dutch Buildings.
Now the road turns southwards to Wolseley. Look out for two well-preserved Boer War Blockhouses at the bridge over the Breede River.
Tulbagh via Wolseley to Ceres:
Named for the Roman Goddess of Agriculture, Ceres is appropriately one of South Africa's most beautiful fruit farming areas. A tradition of gardening has left the village with a legacy of beautiful tree-lined avenues which provide a dramatic display when the leaves turn in Autumn (April and May).
Ceres to Worcester:
Drive south on the R301 for about 24 kilometres and you'll come to a turn-off onto the R43 to Worcester - the centre of the country's biggest wine producing region. Don't miss the Karoo National Botanical Garden and the local museum where outdoor displays preserve the old fashioned farming methods of the Cape. Worcester is also the home of the KWV Brandy Cellars, the largest brandy cellars in the world.
Worcester - Robertson:
Take the R60 via Nuy to Robertson - where you'll find vines, roses and thoroughbreds. And if you're an experienced rock climber, some of the toughest and most challenging routes in the Cape.
Robertson - McGregor:
From Robertson you could choose to take a detour on the R317 via Bonnievale - which boasts a number of outdoor adventures and renowned for its cheese - and McGregor. McGregor is a tiny nineteenth century hamlet which has recently become something of an artist's colony. Visit the Vrolikheid Nature Reserve in the area.
McGregor - Montagu:
Continue via Ashton and the Cogmanskloof Pass to Montagu on the R62. This historic village is the Mountain Mecca of the Western Cape and its hot mineral springs provide a perfect way to relax after a hard day's hiking, climbing or, well - just relaxing. Not to miss is the tractor-trailer ride to the top of the Langeberg Mountains. The view of the Robertson Valley and the Karoo Valley is breathtaking.
Montagu via Barrydale to Ladismith:
Barrydale is a deciduous fruit growing area that's also known for its wild flowers - and for its top quality brandy. Further along the route, Ladismith is guarded by the Toorkop (2,197 m), a strangely shaped mountain which offers experienced climbers a real challenge. Ladismith produces top quality cheese and butter. These products are available at a number of outlets in the town.
Ladismith - Laingsburg:
About 20 km from Ladismith you'll come to the mission station of Amalienstein/Zoar and shortly thereafter you'll find a turning to your left to Seweweekspoort. This is a detour and it's a gravel road - so you should check conditions before you attempt it - but if you're up to the adventure you'll be treated to a spectacular crossing of the Swartberg Mountains. The road takes you to Laingsburg.
Laingsburg - Calitzdorp:
If you prefer to stick with the R62 you'll drive through the Huis River Pass before coming to Calitzdorp - one of South Africa's best fortified wine regions. The holiday resort at the town's hot springs is a popular weekend getaway for people from the surrounding districts.
Calitzdorp - Oudtshoorn:
Continue with the R62 to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. Visit an ostrich farm, explore the Cango Caves and spend an absorbing hour or two amongst the old vehicles and musical instruments at the local museum - where you'll also find the preserved interior of a Jewish synagogue dating back to the days of the ostrich feather boom.
From Oudtshoorn, follow the road to Dysselsdorp and De Rust. Then take the R341 and turn right onto the R339 to Uniondale. From Uniondale take the R62 to Haarlem.
From Oudtshoorn you could take the N12 via De Rust to Beaufort West and join up with the Inland Route North East: N1 Karoo - or follow the R62 via Herold to Uniondale. From here you can take the Prince Alfred's Pass to Knysna (it's a gravel road, so check with the locals before attempting the drive) to meet up with the Coastal Route East: N2 Garden Route. You can also join the N2, form Oudtshoorn, via the Outeniqua Pass to George.
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