Route62 links Port Elizabeth to Cape Town and is the perfect choice for those who wish to have a memorable journey, armed with a flask of coffee and no time limit on arriving at your final destination.
Sprawling farmlands, gleaming mountains and a winding path characterises the road less travelled through the Langkloof - here are four stops to make along Route 62 from Nelson Mandela Bay to Ladismith...
1. Kareedouw: Dutch Reformed Church
A great choice for a coffee pit-stop. The Dutch Reformed Church, central to the town’s residential area, is a landmark visible from the main road, with the Tsitsikamma Mountains just behind it. The stone building is majestic in this setting and offers architecture lovers the opportunity for Instagram photos, while history lovers can meander along the memorial garden in search of famous names.
For instance, Balthazar Johannes Vorster, who was the prime minister of South Africa from 1966 to 1978, is buried here.
A lesser-known fact is that those wanting to spend time in the country’s biggest wilderness area can access the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve from Kareedouw – the only South entrance.
2. Twee Riviere: The Belfry Kitchen
Born from the sharing of work and thriving on the motto, 'Earth’s Bounty', The Belfry Kitchen services The South African Institute for Objects Conservation in Twee Riviere – one of the earliest communities in the Langkloof. Adding to the allure of this quaint town, is the institute's reputation as an internationally recognised research facility, specialising in training students in the restoration and conservation of paper, metals and ceramics.
Foodies will delight in what this extraordinary café has to offer. Turning off the main road on your way from Kareedouw, venture into this hamlet set against the backdrop of the Langkloof mountains and look for the red postbox.
The people of the Langkloof and Tsitsikamma are well-known by their friendly and inviting nature. Here the people are no different. In addition to all produce being homegrown, homemade and fresh, this feels like a home away from home. Bread is baked from flour ground right there on the premises. If you order the delicious creamy spinach ommelette, a helper will fetch the freshly-laid eggs and harvest spinach straight from the garden. The open-view kitchen is a pleasure to experience, giving you insight into the passion going into your dish.
Not only is the fresh produce managed in-house, but so is all the meat selection and dairy. Visitors are welcome to visit the vegetable gardens and paddocks adjacent to the café, while those keen on a 5-min walk, can enjoy their coffee on the newly constructed deck, covered in a canopy of trees overlooking a stream.
Accommodation is available for those who wish to learn more about the lifestyle enjoyed at The Belfry Kitchen and extend the welcoming tranquil feeling.
3. Tsitsikamma - Regyne Protea Farm
Travelling over the mountain towards the Tsitsikamma side, a visit to Regyne Protea Farm is a must if you love the outdoors. As South Africa's largest commercial protea farm, Regyne grows about 20 different varieties that are mostly packed for export.
Tours of the farm are coordinated by Dewald Niemann of Oudebosch Farmstall, found just off the Eersterivier turnoff. Regyne grows South Africa's national flower from seedlings in tunnels which are then planted out to create rows and rows of beautiful flowers. Varieties include the King Protea, Protea Limelight and Pink Ice. In addition to a very educational tour, the road to Regyne takes you through farmlands dotted with dairy cows and the scent of nature in the air - the perfect way to recharge the soul after a hearty brunch. As this is a working farm, tours are only available Monday - Friday.
4. Calitzdorp: Die Handelshuis
If you like to take your time with a leisurely drive and want to get to know the locals along the way, this off the beaten track wine route is just the place to stop and explore.
Visit up to 70 wine farms on this route, from Wellington, Tulbach, Worcester, Robertson to the Klein Karoo. This also includes 11 specialist brandy cellars.
However, if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, make sure to spend some time in Calitzdorp, the port-making capital of South Africa. Due to EU export legislation South African port producers are prohibited from naming their product “port” so the master blenders in Calitzdorp produce Cape Tawny, Cape Vintage and Cape Ruby, that is of outstanding quality.
In addition to all the tastings to be enjoyed, there are a number of antique and second-hand stores dotted throughout the main street. Venturing into the residential area proves to be quite an adventure, especially when finding a corner café that sparks interest.
Typical of small towns, two older gentlemen were sipping tea on the stoep when we stopped outside, waving us in as we walked. The store reminded me of days gone by, of buying sweets in the old farm store down the road on weekends. Floor to ceiling shelving filled the wall behind the cashier. Vintage sign boards filled the available wall space in between tapestries and teapots. This is the perfect mid-afternoon snack stop with a wide range of dishes to choose from.
5. Ladismith: Seweweekspoort and a Mymering farmstay
The Seweweekspoort Pass is a sight to be behold for any nature lover. This mountain ravine is one of the most rugged, with vertical rock folds that seem to touch the sky. Travel the 17km dirt-road through the mountains and you’ll be sure to stop every few minutes to snap a photo. The landscape is breathtaking. The pass lies at the beginning of the Klein Swartberge and when all is quiet, you can hear the ebb and flow of the river as it meanders through the mountains. The peak dominates the western skyline at a majestic 2 325m.
You'd be wise to weave in a farmstay at Mymering Guest House. It is the ultimate in relaxation; Karoo night skies filled with stars and the Towerkop peak casting a shadow over the valley below. Situated on beautiful winelands just outside of Ladismith, it produces wine as well as olives and figs.
Afternoons can be spent walking with the owners on one of the many hiking paths or wander through the vineyards with a picnic basket and relax under a Weeping Willow. Foodies will want to live in the dining area – breakfasts and dinners are a delight as is the chef’s choice.
If travelling with family or friends, the two-bedroomed Black Poodle Cottage is the best choice at R1800 per night, including breakfast. Suites are R690 pppn sharing, single rate at R850 pn.
There are many undiscovered gems along this Route62 - a journey to the ‘unexpected’. A route to inspire and create the possibility of adventures.