Montagu: A Route 62 trip down memory lane

2016-09-10 12:30 - Louzel Lombard
Post a comment 0

Montagu reminds me of a little town in Italy - Orvieto - that's built on an ancient volcanic mountain top in the Province of Terni, south-western Umbria. 

Orvieto's unique placement is one of the most dramatic in Europe, rising above the almost-vertical faces of tuff cliffs, which were built up even higher with the same stone during the World Wars. 

Montagu is a long way from Italy, but it certainly is located in one of the most dramatic settings in South Africa - right within the Cape Fold Belt mountains. 

And, as you meander on the winding road to Montagu, you are also reminded of the South African War when you pass under the Old English Fort - built on one of the arches in the mountains. It is hands down one of the most beautiful passes in South Africa

Just as well, the actual town of Montagu is currently a bit cut-off from the modern world. Engineers are broadening the road leading to Montagu from Ashton, and the roadworks are only set for completion in 2017. This means the trip takes a while, but once you're there the town is quiet and peaceful. 

Considering its setting, Montagu offers loads of options for the venturesome travellers - hiking trails in the gobsmackingly beautiful mountains, mountain biking, rock climbing, cliff jumping, waterfall scaling, sky-rocking... you name it, you can find it there. 

But for us, heading there for a breakaway weekend at the end of winter, running around in the mountains wasn't high on the agenda. Instead, we opted for a trip down memory lane at the Cape's entry to Route 62. 

In a 1950s classic Cadillac, we explored the wineries, farm stalls and shop around Montagu with a dedicated driver (yeah for wine) and expert on local diners, drive-ins and dives... If you like more wind in your hair, the neighbouring town of Robertson also offers guided tours on Harley Davidson motorcycles with Cape American Motorcycle Tours.

SEE: PICS: Is this the coolest way to take a Route 62 road trip?

Regardless of the season, Route 62 is the perfect place to unwind. Here's how to have a relaxing weekend in the heart of the R62.


Stay at:

If it's a romantic, trip-down-memory-lane-weekend you're after, the best option is certainly the Montagu Country Hotel. The hotel is restored in the 1922 art-deco style in which it was built, reminiscent of Paris in the 1920s. 

It's not luxury-loaded, but it's quiet and serene and the service is impeccable. Nowhere else have I felt more at home for breakfast than here, where the buffet is served in the same old-English crockery with flower patterns, which my grandmother owns, and cherishes. 

Crockery aside, the breakfast is scrumptious. Almost as glamorous as dinner, which is served in the candle-lit dining hall with a fireplace and jazz-loving, live local piano player. 

Want to book, click here? A night's stay in the Montagu Country Hotel costs R645 per person sharing and R775 per single in the Classic Rooms, or R850 per person sharing and R1025 per single in the Luxury Rooms. Breakfast is included. 


Eat around Montagu 

Van Loveren 

To the Winelands' side of the Cape Route 62 sits perhaps one of the best all-in-one wine farms in the area - Van Loveren. And before you shrug it off as a winery that only makes rosé, listen up. 

Van Loveren has an extensive range of wines, whiskies and ciders (and most recently, their own, home-brewed beer) aimed at servicing the entire South African market. This means a great time for everyone - regardless of their wine repertoire or preferences. 

The wine pairings, of which there are eight on offer, allows you to sample wines and nibbles that you won't necessarily buy a bottle or plate of anytime soon. Plus, there are alcohol-free pairings perfect for kids or teetotallers.

Our favourites are the chocolate and wine pairing, the Four Cousins pairing with candy and the wine cooler pairing with sweets. Yum!

The bistro-style restaurant on the property - Christina's - is another delight, and the perfect spot if you've worked up a good appetite from all the wine drinking! Opt for one of their wood-fired pizzas, or the blackboard special of the day. 


Boere Bistro 

Boere Bistro in Montagu might trick you into thinking it’s a traditional family run coffee shop and food emporium while passing by during the day, but on selected evenings, this old-fashioned café can evolve into a heated sokkie jol!

Travller24 team member Ra-ees Moerat recently visited the Boere Bistro on one of these nights… and he says is was something to experience. “They literally took all of the tables and chairs out of the restaurant, plugged in the speakers and Marula Boom’s, 'doen die sexy hoender' song started klopping!”  

You can read about Ra-ees' Robertson escape here: 

Like most traditional family farm stalls in Montagu, the Boere Bistro stocks a range of homemade jams, preserves, arts and crafts.

It really offers a unique experience in the valley, and if you're not breakfasting at the Montagu Country Hotel, this would be the best spot. 

Other favourites in the town of Montagu include Ye Olde Tavern and Kokkeman’s Kitchen for dinner, and Kloof padstal, Die Stal and Rambling Rose for a light bite during the day. 

Diesel & Crème

Remember those famous milkshakes we mentioned earlier? They're exclusive to Diesel & Crème in Barrydale, where you will also find the best burger in town. 

In line with our 'trip down memory' theme, Diesel and Creme is an old-school American diner, merged with retro South African flashbacks and old tin banners of Castor Motor Oil, Pepsi Cola and Marlboro - the perfect R62 stopover. 

SEE: City-defector's insider guide to Overberg country life




Do 

As Montagu is the first official town on the actual Route 62 road, it makes sense to make it your starting point for exploring the area. 

The neighbouring town of Barrydale is a must-do day trip. Check out Blissful Barrydale for a complete guide on the old B. 

On the Cape Winelands' side of the R62, a visit to Platform 62 in Ashton is also a must. This warehouse sells wine from across the region at cellar prices, but that's not the main reason why I love to shop here... I have to confess... I totally in love with their pet chicken, Freedom!

Since the R62 is all about road tripping (everything is quite far apart...), you might as well drive in style. The journey is every bit as fun as the destination, right? It should be, and therefore you cannot go wrong with either Montagu Country Hotel's American Dream Cars, or Robertson's Harley-Davidson Cape American Motorcycle Tours

Disclaimer: Traveller24 journalist Louzel Lombard was hosted by Montagu Country Hotel and Van Loveren for accommodation and meals. 

What to read next on Traveller24

#SAHeritage: Top Heritage month trips to enjoy!

PICS: Is this the coolest way to take a Route 62 road trip?

SA dorpies: The best of Montagu and Ashton