Enlightening 5 Day Karoo Road Trip

Leave Cape Town on the Trans Karoo Express train @12h30PM for Matjiesfontein, historic Victorian village and “The Jewel Of The Karoo”.  Arrive at the Matjiesfontein train station @17h50PM.  After checking in you can walk in the hotel’s beautiful gardens with a fountain and a small chapel.  Dinner will be enjoyed in the gracious Victorian dinning room and than we relax and watch the famous clear Karoo skies.  Overnight at the Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein.
hotel MatjiesfonteinDAY 2
After breakfast we leave by air-conditioned transport to the village of Prince Albert, Gateway
to Swartberg Mountains.
 Arrive in Prince Albert around 13h00PM.  After lunch we attend an exciting talk by Dr Judy Maquire, paleontologists. 
Besides working with fossils, Judy has worked with !Xo Bushmen and  made a study of their survival and their use of food plants.
 Bushmen were the earliest inhabitants of the area and remains of this culture are still to be found in the district.

We end the day by watching a film that has won many International rewards “The Great Dance – a hunters story”.
 This is what the authors of the film say…”through the viewfinder of the camera we realize that we were capturing a moment of the connection between people, animals and death, something timeless and powerful, something bigger than all of us.”  Overnight in a lovely Guest House in Prince Albert.

Sunrise walk to the show grounds @ 05h30AM to watch horses in silent training.
 After breakfast we leave for Gamkaskloof, a hidden valley in the heart of Swartberg Mountain Range – a paradise called Die Hel.
 On arrival we have lunch at Annetjie Joubert, a descendant of the original community.
 Enjoy a braai in the evening.

Overnight in a beautiful restored self-catering farmhouses.
 Solar panels provide hot water and gas bottles run fridges and stoves.  All provisions are supplied except for alcoholic beverages.

Spend the day enjoying the majestic Gamkaskloof valley.  We walk, relax, listen to nature, reflect on the wilderness around and maybe learn about our place in the Universe.  Overnight in a restored self-catering farmhouse.

Get ready to leave after breakfast back to Prince Albert and civilization. 
After lunch we are taken to the airstrip to board our 60-minute private charter flight to Cape Town International Airport.  This unforgettable scenic flight ends off a truly different soul enriching Karoo Trip.  Contact Road Travel Africa today to find out how you can experience this once in a lifetime tour.  We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you free of charge.

African Folk Tales about the Origin of the Milky Way, The Sun and The Moon

Road Travel Africa loves a good African folktale.  Here, for your reading pleasure, we share three short ones, about the origin of the Milky Way, The Sun and The Moon.  A strong-willed girl became so angry when her mother would not give her any of a delicious roasted root that she grabbed the roasting roots from the fire and threw the roots and ashes into the sky, where the red and white roots now glow as red and white stars, and the ashes are the Milky Way.  And there the road is to this day.  Some people call it the Milky Way; some call it the Stars’ Road, but no matter what you call it, it is the path made by a young girl many, many years ago, who threw the bright sparks of her fire high up into the sky to make a road in the darkness.

Continue reading “African Folk Tales about the Origin of the Milky Way, The Sun and The Moon”

Hottentots Holland

The first Dutch colonists in the Cape called the range of mountains they could see in the east the ‘Mountains of Africa’, as if, once conquered, all of Africa would simply open up before them.  When it was found that Khoisan people were already living there, they changed the name to Hottentots Holland.  The route into the Cape interior across the Hottentots Holland Mountains initially followed a game trail known to the Khoikhoi as the Gantouw, a name meaning ‘elands’ path’.  An entry in Jan van Riebeeck’s diary for 6 June 1657 states that the name was given to the area by the Khoikhoi, who called it their Holland, or fatherland.

The route, about 2 km northeast of the summit of Sir Lowry’s Pass, followed a steep and very narrow kloof.  It was a two-day wagon trip just to get from the settlement on the foreshore to the mountains.  Then it was an arduous climb up and down the mountains, the deep ruts carved by the thousands of wagons that crossed the mountain can still be seen in the rocks today.  ‘Over t gebergte’ the Dutch called it when they passed over the Hottentots-Holland mountains. One traveller described the region as follows: “Wij gingen over hooge ruggen en holle clooven.”   At nearby Kanonkop, the Dutch East India Company sited two cannons to signal the arrival of ships in Table Bay and to warn of impending Khoikhoi attack.  The Gantouw was replaced in 1828 by a new route named in honor of Sir Lowry Cole, the Cape Governor at the time.

The Khoikhoi (“people people” or “real people”) are a historical division of the Khoisan ethnic group, the native people of south-western Africa, closely related to the Bushmen (or San, as the Khoikhoi called them).  They had lived in southern Africa since the 5th century AD.  When European immigrants started colonizing the area in 1652, the Khoikhoi were already practising extensive pastoral agriculture in the Cape region, with large herds of Nguni cattle.  The European immigrants labelled them Hottentots, in imitation of the sound of the Khoisan languages, but this term is today considered derogatory.  

Today, the Hottentots Holland Mountains are easily accessible and the nature reserve of the same name is a wonderful starting point for expeditions.  The reserve office at Nuweberg (near the town of Grabouw) serves as base camp to hikers and kloofers, and to visitors generally.  The Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve lies in the Hottentots Holland mountains, some 90km south-east of Cape Town.  The 70 000ha reserve stretches from Elgin in the south to beyond Villiersdorp in the north, and from the Stellenbosch mountains in the west, eastwards to the Groenland mountains. The entrance to the reserve is at Nuweberg, high in Viljoen’s Pass between Grabouw and Villiersdorp.

The terrain is rugged and very mountainous, with altitudes ranging from 500m to 1590m.  The annual rainfall may be as high as 3300mm on the Dwarsberg plateau and the winds are frequent and strong.  Summers are generally mild and dry.  Weather conditions in the mountains can be unpredictable and dangerous.  The reserve is important for the conservation of mountain fynbos with approximately 1300 species occurring here, including several rare and endemic plants. Small populations of grey rhebuck, klipspringer, common duiker and grysbok occur.  Leopard also frequent these mountains but are seldom seen. Approximately 110 bird species have been recorded on the reserve, amongst them several species of raptor.  Contact Road Travel to find out more about this awesome area.