We packed our Beetle ready for our road trip back to Johannesburg. We had a bit of a plan, a tank full of fuel and a lot of stuff (all our belongings managed to fit into the Beetle). We watched the sunrise over the ocean for the last time for a little while then made our way.
Our first stop was Underberg, where we stopped at the butchery and bought our first packet of biltong (this seems to be our road trip snack of choice). Underberg is 200km inland at the foot of the Southern Drakensberg. We stayed at Sani Lodge in a small Rondavel (a traditional African style hut, made from easily sourced materials, like clay, sand, cow dung and stone). The place was beautiful with hiking trails at our back door, farm fresh produce, yoga and incredible views. The lodge was on the Sani Pass road. If you follow this road, it takes you to the Lesotho border- there was no chance we were getting up the 4x4 track with the Beetle. So we saved Lesotho (and the highest pub in Africa) for another trip.
We opted for a short afternoon hike to take in the surrounds, the Stromness trail. After climbing a steep incline and finding a view point, we got lost. We ended up climbing down a steep bank before making our way across the cow paddocks and back to the lodge. Only now we read the guide and realised how much we went wrong. We had dinner at the restaurant and enjoyed handmade haloumi from the milk of the cows on the property, casserole and pancakes with apples. Dinner was delicious. As the sun went down it got super cold, there were hot water bottles waiting for us in our room and a much needed heater. We definitely weren't used to the cold.
The next morning we drove into Underberg and had breakfast at The Lemon Tree, Michael remembers this cafe from coming here as a kid. Next door was Deli, Not a Deli. They had local cheeses, cold meats, pastries and jams. We got some yummies for a picnic.
We then had a 150km drive to Nottingham Road, a cute little town (that we somehow missed and ended up not stopping in). We ended up finding the Piggly Wiggly Country Village and sampled nougat from the Wedgewood shop, walked around the property and got some bread from the Pantry.
We drove on to Van Reenen that afternoon where we had booked the Kliphuis, a beautiful old stone cottage in the Highlands Estate. The house and surrounds were picture perfect. (next time we will bring something for dinner as their wasn't much around). We snacked on biltong, fresh fruit and cheese. Yum.
The sunset was super special that evening, we went for a drive and took in the scenery. We then watched movies by the open fire with cups of tea and lots of blankets (and a few nougat biscuits).
The next morning we woke up early to catch the sunrise, we didn't have much of a plan after that. We wanted to get to Clarens, a cute little town in the Free State province. We made eggs for breakfast with fresh bread. It was a very cold morning and Pam, our Beetle refused to start. Our neighbours offered help before she finally started up. Frustrated, we began the drive to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. It was incredibly beautiful and the car was doing well. We ventured off the main road but came across a flooded road and had to turn back. There were horses, Blesbok and Wildebeast in the distance. We passed 20+ guys on Vespas also travelling the mountainous road to Clarens.
We explored the streets, firstly buying another bag of biltong and ducking in and out of all the quaint shops. Clothing, candles, preserves and jams, local beer and gin, local skincare products- this town had a gift for everyone. I purchased a 100% cotton sweater from Go Green, which was made locally by a community project. We got some things from the Purple Onion deli before lunch at the Brewery. We sampled their beer and enjoyed lunch in the sunshine. We walked through the rest of town and finally stopped in at the book store, Bibliophile. A cat greeted us out the front and I walked through the store and found numerous gems.
We had decided not to stay the night so we had a long drive ahead of us, 350km as we were taking the toll free roads, saving 120 rand... not sure if it was worth it!
There were detours and long stretches of gravel road, lots of trucks and fields and fields of crops. Sunflowers and corn were growing most of the way. A few stray flowers were growing on the roadside so we stopped and picked one. We stopped at a petrol station with rose hedges and a filtered water station, and a Beetle parked out the front. We decided this was our favourite garage on the trip. Haha.
We stocked up on snacks as the sun went down. We then passed another Beetle which was cool and refreshing to see. Three Beetles all on the same road!
Another hour or so and we arrived on the farm and were greeted by Michael's lovely family.
We had made the 1000km trip in our 1974 Beetle, three provinces, two tanks of fuel and a few litres oil. Not sure if I would do this trip again in a Beetle but we made it in one piece with only a few minor hiccups.
We have now sold the Beetle and are planning a trip to Mozambique.