A slogan made for us...
On Tuesday June 28 we wanted to do the historical walking tour of Church street in Tulbagh. But this week is also school holidays and for a small group of under privileged children from Cape Town it meant the opportunity to spend some days visiting different towns with lots of heritage and Tulbagh was on this list. Normally the historical tour last for an hour or so, but we joined the students on their tour and it lasted for more than three hours. We also learned a lot about the colonisation of the Dutch in South Africa during this tour.
After Tulbagh we drove back to African Overlanders campsite via the Bain’s kloof, which originates from 1886. This kloof was the first road to go ‘over the mountain from the West Coast, meaning that travellers could bypass Tulbach saving a lot of time. This was unfortunate for Tulbach as this new road let to their economic decline.
Our car has arrived !!!
And then on Wednesday June 28th we finally collected the car in the port of Cape Town. But it was a close call as we arrived at the port at 16.30 and around the same time the workday in South Africa ends. Luckily after some convincing by our agent we were allowed to get the car out of the container.
The next day we went to R&D offroad to start work on the car with the last fitments, such as fitting a new 270 degrees awning, a new table at the back door made from stainless steel, a outside side table on the driver side, replacing the canvas of the pop up roof and we decided also to replace the rear bumper so it can hold two spare wheels, a high lift jack and a shovel. And for some extra storage we bought a new storage box for the roof. All these fittings will be ready by July 12th.
As South Africa is 4x4 and camping heaven we decided to also visit some specialty stores and got us some really cool stuff, such as a small braai (bbq), a Dutch oven, a cover for our fridge for better isolation.
Wilfred also did some work on the car over the weekend and has fitted gas shocks to hold up our bed. And also steel cables to protect the windscreen from branches and serves a clothing line as well.
On the tourist track again - Chapman's Peak and Simon's town
After all this shopping and work on the car we drove to Constantia, which is one of the most prestigious suburb Cape Town and home to some really nice wine estates. We visited Buitenverwachting, a wine estate that is renowned for taking excellent care of their employees. After that we drove to Simon’s town via Chapman’s Peak, the only toll road in Cape Town. This scenic drive is a coastal road with some amazing views towards Cape Point and of Houtbaai. Development of this spectacular road started in 1915 and took seven years to finish. It was officially opened in 1922 and cost £20.000,- to built at that time.
In Simon’s Town we visited Boulder Beach, a place were you can see the famous colony of Jackass Penguins, so called for their hilarious braying call. These penguins are 50cm tall and weigh approx. 2-3kg. It was the end of breeding season and a lot of penguins took care of baby penguins.
And as we camp in the middle of the winelands of South Africa we decided to visit other wine estate. At Vrede and Lust we chose a wine and chocolate pairing and tasted six different wines and Lindt chocolates. All in al a very relax afternoon.
Last week the weather got a bit better every day and on one of the clearest days of the week we visited Table Mountain, a prominent landmark in Cape Town. Every morning form our rondavel at the campsite in Kraaifontein we have an amazing view of Table Mountain from our bed. You can take a cable car up and down to the highest point or walked up or down the mountain. To make it a little bit easier for us we took the cable car to the top and decided to hike down. Table Mountain is on average 1055m high with the highest point being at 1085m above sea level. It is the northern end of a sandstone mountain range that continues to Cape Point in the south. We remember hiking down ten years ago, but this time was very different then our memories of that hike. Normally the hike down takes about 4 hours (at least twice as long as we remember…) and it was a lot steeper…so after 3 hours and 40 minutes we were back at the car park. Looking at each other…how could we have forgotten that the hike was this strenuous. Maybe we took the cable car down as well ten years ago…
After a week of relaxing in Qatar we have arrived in Cape Town !!! Unfortunately we can't say the same for our Landcruiser. Due to a faulty carnet de passage of the other car in the container we are expecting our vehicle on June 29th.
So we rented a car and are now on a short trip travelling the Cape, some wine regions and a small part of Karoo.
But first it was time for celebrations...for Judith's birthday we went to a small wine estate with an excellent restaurant Le Petite Ferme in Franschhoek. Stellenbosch, Franshhoek and Paarl are the three main wine regions close to Cape town and we loved our visit to these region 10 years ago and it isn't any different today... the mountain views, the vineyards, the excellent tastings and some amazing restaurants make this a very pleasant first stop.
Our next stop was in Cape Algulhas, which is the most southern town of South Africa. Remembering a lot of what we have done 10 years ago as well. Just off the coast is an amazing sunset spot...a shipwreck which is lit beautifully by the sun and one of the nicest sandy beaches of the Cape. We also bought some things at a 4x4 megastore: a really cool axe with a saw in the handle and a foldable spade. And Wilfred was very keen on buying a sling to scare away the monkeys when camping.
Then on to Swellendam where we stayed in the same guesthouse Aan de Oever as 10 years ago, and again it was amazing ! The most warm welcome, an upgrade to a suite and at check out we got some muffins to take with us. Swellendam is a small pretty town and has more than 50 heritage buildings, mostly built in de Cape Dutch style. We visited the Drostdy Museum and the Drostdy Mansion which was built by the Dutch East India Company in 1747 to serve as residence and official headquarters for the Landdrost (Kantonrechter). Close to Swellendam is the Bontebok National park and is very pleasant for hiking. We walked a 6 kilometer trail called the Aloe Vera Hill, providing amazing views of the Breede river and the surrounding hills.
Next stop Tankwa Karoo National Park. This is one of the newest national parks that is maintained by San Parks. On the way we drove through Robertson and on one of the wine estates you can create your own blend of wine. Our belnd was 60% Merlot, 30% Shiraz and 105 Cabernet and it went perfect with our steak made on the BBQ. The next morning we planned to drive and hike in Tankwa but instead we ended up staying around the guesthouse due to damage to the roads. Our small rental car (VW Polo) is not made to drive those kind of roads. And that day we really missed our own car ! We did meet some really nice people during our stay and we were invited to a complementary stay in a tented lodge near Oudtshoorn. We will definitely try to visit there, once we hit the road in the cruiser.
On our way back to Cape Town to collect our Landcruiser the last stop is Tulbagh. A pretty town with lots of heritage buildings. Some of them were destroyed in the earthquake of 1969 and our hotel 'The Tulbagh Hotel' only had minor damages. And for a short period it was used as a hospital to tend to the wounded of this event. The only positive thing of the earthquake is that all buildings were restored to their original state. The area around Tulbagh is renowned for their wines and olives. And every year during the last weekend of June the Christmas Winter festival is held. A funny sight seeing christmas trees around town and people wearing christmas hats.
A tip for fellow travellers is to buy a Wildcard. For all the park in South Africa you need to pay conservation fee per day to visit. This card gives us access to all the parks in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho for a year and is a lot cheaper than paying the daily conservation fees separately.
Some facts about Qatar:
After a six hour flight we arrived at Doha Airport at 01.00AM and we were quickly guided through customs and collected our luggage. We were at the hotel one hour after our flight had landed, At the hotel we got a nice upgrade to a suite and also the club lounge package as it is Ramadan and impossible to drink or eat outside the major hotel chains during the day.
Highlights of our trip to Qatar were the Museum of Islamic Arts, Visit to Al Zubarah (the only Unesco World Heritage site in Qatar) and of course a visit to the famous Souq Waqif which dates back hundreds of years, but was renovated and extended extensively in 2006 and the 'sand dune bashing' trip in the south of Qatar towards the inland sea. Like our visit to Dubai 10 years ago, a country to return to in a decade to see how their building spree has changed the surroundings throughout the country.
Yesterday our Overland trip finally started after months and months of preparation. Our last day in The Netherlands had a tight schedule... After some final house cleaning and errands, we started the day at the office in Amsterdam to drop of our lease car, phones and laptops. Then a visit to KLM Health Services to collect our antibiotics and a nice lunch with Peter and Yvonne close to Schiphol. Once back at Schiphol, the last goodbye drinks with Wilfred's parents, his sister, Judith's mom and Karin & Simon. Just before boarding we collected our dollars at the GWK Travelex office (changing all our foreign currency to dollars and causing a huge waiting queue in the process) and finally boarding of our flight.