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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Karoo Route : Prins Albert and the Swartberg Pass

Going on holiday to the Karoo was one of the most challenging ones for us so far.   Even though we love our beautiful 1 year old son, it proved to be tougher than we hoped for.  Herewith our story of our recent adventure.

Note to self: Never - I mean never-ever - start your holiday the day after Christmas.  Especially if it is going to be a semi-camping self catering type holiday.  It is hard to pack 3 days before, because you need most of your things that you actually want to pack.  So packing on Christmas day is out of the question, because its usually a day filled with fun and quality time spent with the family, enjoying lunches and unwrapping gifts.  My real packing started at 6pm on Christmas day - the day before we left. I packed and packed and packed, and eventually fell into my bed only to fall out of the bed the next morning to continue packing so that we can eventually leave.  By 10h00 we got into the car and drove off.  We were so rushed that we failed to go over our packing list that we spent so many weeks tweaking to perfection.  So in the rush we left a few important items behind, but luckily nothing we could not buy in the next town.

The little one was pretty good in the car on the way to Prins Albert.  When we got there we unpacked and enjoyed some time out on the lawn and under the shady trees while looking for a few birds.

In Prins Albert we stayed at a lovely place called Volstuisvlei Guest House, which also happens to be the location for the popular local TV Program called 'Kokkedoor'. Our challet happens to also have been called Kokkedoor.  It was both charming and rustic.

Early the next morning, we departed for our next for our stay over in the Camdeboo National Park, the first three parks on our itinerary.  It was a real pity we did not make time to enjoy the lovely town of Prins Albert.

We had a choice to drive the tarred road or the gravel road to Oudtshoorn, and by recommendation from the locals we took the gravel route via the Swartberg Pass.  It was worth it!  I can remember that over 20 years ago my dad took us via this route with a caravan in tow.  Now, as you enter this pass there is a big sign saying : No Caravans or busses.  Hehe, I now know why I remember this route with dad and his caravan!  Needless to say, I am still alive today to tell the story.

Its worth stopping and enjoying the views and the beautiful rock formations along the road.

As you move over this Swartberg pass you are offically leaving the Little Karoo and now entering the Great Karoo from the Prins Albert side.  We were now offically heading toward Karoo country.
We did a short stop-over to try and visit the Cango Caves.  We were shocked that we had to wait over an hour for the next tour into the caves.  This was not like this 20 years ago.  Times have changed and this has become a little golden goose for the Great Karoo.  Not only did we have to wait an hour to get a tour, but when we got to the front of the queue, we were told the hour had become two hours as the tour was sold out.  Needless to say we said we would love to come back another time and visit this special destination.
Moral of the story is to not go in season or without making a booking at computicket prior to arriving.

Next stop: Lunch in Oudtshoorn
We found a lovely restaurant where our baby boy could stretch his legs and practice his walking skills.

Finally we hit the road and head towards Graaff-Reinet which is home to the Camdeboo National Park.

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