Route 62 in the Western Cape of South Africa is a scenic drive of about 750km starting in Worcester and ending at the coastal city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The drive is one of the most scenic and takes you through vast expanses of the Klein Karoo plains, past vineyards and over mountains. The road winds through ever changing scenery through a number of quaint villages along one of the longest wine routes in South Africa. If you attempted the journey in one go it would take you roughly nine and a half hours but we strongly recommend you break up your journey and stay over so that you can fully appreciate all there is to see along the way. One place to stop and relax those aching muscles is the Warmwaterberg Spa situated between Barrydale and Ladismith. The natural hot springs found here are an ideal place to take a break from driving.
After leaving Worcester one of the first villages you will come to is Montagu which is full of historic buildings which is not surprising as it dates back to 1851. Next up is Barrydalewhich in Spring time lights up in colour from all the wild flowers. Although you will find a number of arts and crafts shops right on the main road it is well worth taking your time to explore this charming town further. Check
out the lovely Karoo Saloon for a refreshing drink and a chance to bump into like-minded travellers. They also serve light meals and pizzas. An alternative place to eat in Barrydale is the Blue Cow. This lovely cafe restaurant serves delicious snacks and meals while you sit overlooking the pond with ducks on. The service is excellent and the hosts more than willing to answer your tourist type questions. Just follow the signs for the Blue Cow. After Barrydale you then reach Ladismith another historic town which is known for producing fine wines, cheeses and fruit.
Keep driving along the R62 and you will come to Amalienstein a small hamlet which was originally a mission station back in 1817. Importantly this is the gateway to one of the finest mountain passes in South Africa known as the Seven Weeks Poort (or Seweweekspoort). This 17km mountain pass takes you over streams, past towering cliffs, jagged rock formations along a road through the Swartberg Mountains that reaches between 600m and 1000m above sea-level. You will really need your camera for this exhilarating trip as well as a 4×4 vehicle. Although this will take you off the R62 main route it’s worth making the trip before heading back onto the main road.
After getting back onto the R62 the next place you will come to is Calitzdorp famous for its annual Port and Wine Festival and the fine examples of Karoo and Victorian architecture found down Queen Street. The road to Calitzdorp will test the gearbox on your car with its relentless and unforgiving hillclimbs. Next stop on your journey is Oudtshoorn otherwise known as the ostrich capital of the world. As well as the many ostrich farms Oudtshoorn hosts the hugely popular annual Klein Karoo National Arts Festival with numerous exhibits from some of South Africa’s most talented artists, musicians, poets and craft makers. Just 29km from Oudtshoorn are the only show caves in South Africa – the Cango Caves. Tours of the caves are very popular and booking in advance is essential to ensure you are not disappointed.
After the next few towns of De Rust, Uniondale and Willowmore you will come to Baviaanskloof or Valley of the Baboons. This is a world heritage site covering some 192,000 hectares of wild rugged country and panoramic views. There are numerous hiking trails and 4×4 trails to enjoy here.
Overall Route 62 is a very pleasant and enjoyable drive and not one to be rushed. Ensure you leave yourself enough time and ideally break your journey up to enjoy the sights and sounds along the way. Never underestimate the size of the Karoo. The Greater Karoo actually occupies two-thirds of the land mass of South Africa. Route 62 lies in the south-east corner of the Greater Karoo. To appreciate all that this route has to offer you need to keep your eyes out for the main signposted attractions along the way. Take the time to explore the smaller roads off the R62 and you will be rewarded.