Route 62

 
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Do yourself a favour.  If you're driving between Johannesburg and Cape Town, give the N1 a miss between Colesburg and Worcester and rather take the extended Route 62.  It's a drive that will bring you back to explore and experience more.  It will make "getting there" the trip of a lifetime.

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If you leave the N1 at Colesburg, the route adds about 160km and passes through 14 towns as opposed to just two on the N1.  If you turn off at Beaufort West, the route is only 70km longer and passes through 11 towns.   These towns and villages showcase some of the best the Western and Eastern Cape has to offer.  The roads are good and far safer than the notoriously dangerous N1 national road; and the scenery... well it's beyond spectacular!

From the north, soon after Colesburg the road forks and instead of taking the N1 to the right, one carries straight on along the N9 to Middelburg and Graaff-Reinet.  This is one of SA's best-preserved towns and it's emerging as a popular tourist destination that is energetically addressing its future with creative solutions.  The Drostdy Hotel, a former government building, is world renowned for its charm.  The Dutch Reformed Church is an outstanding example of church architecture while art galleries and museums will cater for many tastes.

The next village is Aberdeen, where many wealthy farmers from the region retire and which boasts some splendid architecture.

Willowmore has started attracting city dwellers who's influence can be seen in the interesting coffee and gift shops. It's also the gateway to the spectacular Baviaanskloof.

Then one comes to Uniondale, made famous by the legend of the woman hitch-hiker who famously just disappeared from the cars of those who gave her lifts.  The village has an impressive church and some good coffee shops.

Next is the tiny village of De Rust, with a pretty, tree-lined main street and its Donkie Teksie (donkey cart).  It's a great stop with a lively restaurant and café scene.

This brings one to the one end of the real Route 62 and Oudtshoorn - a town that needs little introduction.  Famous for the Cango Caves and one-time centre of the world's of ostrich industry.  It's seen boom-and-bust times that rival that of any gold town, and restored "Ostrich Palaces" bear witness to the heyday of this industry.  Oudtshoorn is also home to the very popular, annual Klein Karoo Kunstefees.

The next stop is Calitzdorp, the Port Wine capital of South Africa.  Take a walk down Queens Street, the oldest street in the town with fine examples of Edwardian and Victorian architecture and don't miss the lovely red stone church.  Visit the three cellars on the wine route: Boplaas, Die Krans and the Co-op cellar, which all produce red, white and dessert wines.

Amalienstein was purchased by the Berlin Mission Community to establish a mission station, where a church was completed in 1853.  Donkey cart rides offer tourists the opportunity to experience traditional old Karoo farm life in the nearby Zoar community.

Ladismith lies in the foothills of the Klein Swartberg mountain and the magestic Towerkop with its split peak -- which was split in two by an angry witch, according to legend.  This is the centre of an important farming area.

Barrydale, flanked by the Langeberg mountains, is one of the prettiest villages on Route 62.  It offers unrivalled diversity of vegetation and wildlife within a 30km radius.  The Anna Roux Wildflower Garden lies on the town's outskirts and the magnificent Tradouws Pass is ten minutes away.  Twenty kilometres north of Barrydale, there's a seven metre high golden peace pagoda, radiating peace and harmony.  Five kilometres further on, you come across Ronnie's Sex Shop.  Having grabbed your attention, you'll find that it's just a pub!

Montagu is one of the Western Cape's most special towns, enfolded between magestic mountains.  Some describe it as a 'health village' since it offers hikes and walks, mountain biking, rock climbing, horse riding, golf and, of course, the hot springs.  There are also the tractor rides to the top of the Langeberg Mountain -- higher than Table Mountain -- with a potjiekos lunch before or after the trip!  But Montagu also boasts a rich architectural heritage and just walking around the town is pure delight.  Don't be fooled though... there is much more to the town than the road through the town might suggest!

Ten kilometres on and one comes to thesmall town is Ashton -- originally little more than the residential area for one of the largest canneries in the southern hemisphere, producing fruits, vegetables and jams.  Today that's been joined by wineries and nurseries but it's overshadowed by Robertson, 18km down the road.

Robertson is the "capital" and business centre of the Breede River Wine Valley, also known as the valley of wine and roses.  It's a safe, charming country town with Victorian buildings, jacaranda-lined streets and beautiful gardens, and surrounded by over 50 wine cellars which provide its main attraction.

Another 47km and you join the N1 once again at Worcester, with Rawsonville and the Slanghoek Valley - one of the best-kept secrets in the Western Cape - just before the Huguenot Tunnel. 

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