Click here for a short video of our Cape Town Road Trip
Living in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape and planning a road trip to Cape Town always requires a little bit of planning especially when you want to take in new sights and travel down routes you haven’t been before. We had been wanting to visit Paternoster on the West Coast for quite some time now so as it wasn’t that far from Cape Town we decided that this would be a first port of call. Now first of lets understand that it is just over 1000kms from Port Alfred to Paternoster which is at least 11 hours driving. Given that we do like to have a few stops along the way to eat and refresh plus we always advise against driving at night this meant planning a stopover both on the way down and on the way home.
Our route from Port Alfred took us initially along the R72, then onto the N2 through Port Elizabeth and then we turned left onto the Route 62 signposted to Joubertina and Kareedouw. This route is very pretty and takes you through an area called Apple Valley which is not hard to understand why. Either side of the road the fields are full of Apple trees and other fruit trees. The Route 62 took us all the way to Oudtshoorn and through the other side onto the R328 where just 7kms outside of Oudtshoorn was our stopover – Buffelsdrift Game Lodge.
In the morning we got ourselves back on to the Route 62 and made our way through Calitzdorp (The Port Wine Capital of South Africa), Ladysmith, Barrydale and then onto Montagu. The normally pretty Montage Pass was a little hectic to say the least. Construction workers were busy improving the road and the drainage systems which although a pain would ‘be worth the wait’ as the signs told us. From Montage our route took us via Robertson, Worcester, Paarl, Malmesbury and finally to our next stop – Paternoster! Along the way we stopped at the Pleasant Pheasant Country Restaurant which is situated on the historic Allesverloren Wine Estate, under huge old oaks, just outside the village of Riebeek West.
Paternoster is situated right on the West Coast and is a popular getaway destination for Capetonians offering something a bit more ‘relaxing’ than its close neighbours of Langebaan and Saldanha Bay. Our self-catering cottage was situated right on the beachfront with stunning views. Fitting in with the Paternoster look our white cottage had everything we needed including a wonderful open fire which was big enough to braai on if we needed to. Many places have fireplaces along the West Coast as it does get quite chilly in Winter. We spent a wonderful 2 nights in Paternoster and naturally cooked some wonderfully fresh mussels and crayfish which the area is famous for. Don’t forget to visit the ‘Panty Bar’ in Paternoster – it seemed to be the in place for a drink!
Leaving Paternoster we drove via Bloubergstrand to Durbanville Hills where we were staying with friends. We only had a couple of nights in Cape Town so we decided to refresh our fond memories of the drive through to Hout Bay stopping on the way back at the famous 12 Apostles Hotel. Although we were not staying overnight here they were very happy for us to come in for a drink at their bar on the 3rd Floor. We would highly recommend this especially on a beautiful sunny day. We sat and relaxed with our Gin & Tonics watching the sun set over the ocean. If like us the cost of staying at the 12 Apostles Hotel is a little out of our range this is the next best thing.
From Cape Town we headed towards Franshhoek where we were spending two nights at a level self-catering town house situated on Huguenot Street at the Monument end. We are big foodies and we were delighted when we had a call in the morning to let us know that a cancellation at The Tasting Room (Le Quartier Francais) meant that they could now accommodate us that evening. The Tasting Room is in the Top 100 Restaurants in the World and we can truly recommend this. The food and service was excellent.
Still smiling from our wonderful evening meal the night before, early the next morning, we walked down Huguenot Street to the Ticket Office for the Franschhoek Wine Tram. Now this had been recommended to us by one of our parents (read about their trip on the Franschhoek Wine Tram here) and it is truly an excellent way to get around a number of Wine Estates without someone having to drive. The Wine Tram offers 4 different tickets designed to take in different Wine Estates and different pallets. Your ticket on the Wine Tram includes up to 6 stop-offs at different Wine Estates – you get to choose which ones. Wine Estates that we stopped off at included Le Grande Provence, Le Petit Dauphine and The Mont Rochelle.
Our next overnight accommodation was at Beaufort West and our route took us through the beautiful De Doorns area and a wonderful lunch stop at the historic Lord Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein. We were treated to an impromptu tour of the Hotel by Johnny on our arrival at the hotel. He is clearly a man in love with his job and the bowler hat he wears along with his impressions and piano playing made this stop truly memorable. We both ate the curry for lunch and we can heartily recommend this if it is still on the menu.
After lunch we then drove until we reached our final self-catering accommodation stopover in Beaufort West. Although Beaufort West may not be visually appealing it does lie right next to the Karoo National Park. Now there is accommodation inside the Karoo National Park but you do need to book more in advance than our last minute trip. Having said that the gates to the park open early and close about 6pm unless you book for dinner in which case you have up until 9pm to leave. We enjoyed a wonderful 6 hours self-drive through the Karoo National Park stopping at lunch time at one of their Picnic spots. If you haven’t made a picnic then you can buy meat and charcoal at the shop by Reception and use one of the braai’s at the Picnic stops. There are lion at Karoo National Park now but we didn’t spot any. However we spotted lots of other animals including very small ostriches, young Kudu and even a Black-Backed Jackal.
We drove back to Port Alfred after 2 nights in Beaufort West and although we were naturally quite tired having driven well over 2,500kms we had a wonderful time.