West Coast Vacay: Taking the off beaten track to Niewoudtville
Hello my boozy darlings! It feels like it has been ages since we last chatted. What a pretty interesting year 2020 has been? Wow so much has changed, and our normal is no longer normal! But is that actually a bad thing? One really good thing I can say about this pandemic it has made me hungry in exploring more of my own town and country. As I have mentioned before, hubby and I are terrible creatures of habit. Every year for our yearly break we go to the same place for holiday… and that is PE!
This year PE was not an option! It was too much of a Covid hot spot and didn’t want to risk it, especially with my suppressed immune system. So where to go? Well despite all the bad stuff that has been happening this year, 2020 was certainly year for the flowers! Its said the flowers up the West Coast/Namaqualand in 2020 is the best in like 14 years. We can actually thank the extremely good rainfall we had this winter. Honestly, I have lived my entire life in the Cape and I had never explored the West Coast and never gone to see the flowers.
And… Since last year after I attended the Vinimark Trade Show – my feet has been itching to visit Doringbaai, which is way way up the West Coast (You will have to stay tuned to see why 😜)
West Coast Here We Come!
It’s decided!! West Coast Here we come!
Planning our West Coast Trip
Right, so our main aim was to go to Nieuwoudtville first and then heading down to Doringbaai! Which route do we take? Was not in the mood for the the N7 which is so predicable and dull. Or a route that is totally breathtakingly beautiful and scenery never seen before? The latter is pretty obvious right? Originally I would have loved to have gone through Tankwa. We both have never been through the Karoo and seeing posts on Facebook on just how beautifully unique that area is – my feet was itching and my soul was yearning.
However, researching and asking a Tankwa Facebook Group, I was highly advised not to risk it. 😭😭
You see taking my little Groen Mamba – Huyundai I20 through that desolated terrain is not a very bright idea. They say the R355 comes with a serious warning. Pack in a few extra tyres! This road is a tyre eater!!! Nom nom nom… No way Josè!
So what now brow cow? After chatting to a few good peeps… checking out google maps, extensive googling the next most stunning route to take would be R43 from Worcester to Ceres and then take the R303 all the way up to Clanwillian then hit R364 all the way up to Nieuwoudville, Vanrhynsdorp, and finally Doringbaai. Total of 520 Kilometers over +-7 hours. Needless to say almost 13 hours later we reached our final destination. Yoh! Yoh! Yoh… It is an extremely long, tense and later gatvol route, but in the same way absolutely stunning and I would do it again! Perhaps not in my I20. Note to self…. we need to stop treating our I20 as a 4×4! 🤣🤣🤣
I don’t even know how many passes we did that day, but each and everyone offered spectacular views – some that just took your breath away.
Making our way to Cederberg Wines!
One of my main objectives other than looking at pretty flowers is to visit a few wine farms that has been on my bucket list for like forever. Cederberg Wines is one of them. Why? Well not only do they make phenomenal wines but just the location itself is worth the visit!
Did you know that Cedeberg Wines is the highest winemaking farm in South Africa?
Driving towards Cederberg Wines, it feels like you on a different planet never mind a different country. Here you will find the most interesting rock formations. Every left turn, over the hill is different scenery. You just can’t help to be in awe and take in this unique beauty. Even the gravel road changes colour. Sometimes itsmore grey, other times it is yellowish red and other times it is like sandy.
Make sure when you travel this route, your car is in good working conditions, have extra water, cell phone charged and an offline GPS map, there is NO internet signal through the entire way. There is also nobody around. Our entire trip up to Clanwilliam there was nobody else but us on the road.
3 Hours and 45 Minutes We Finally Arrive to Some Civilization!
174 kilometers and 3 hours 45 minutes of driving, due to a ton of stopping for photo’s and driving between 30-40 kilometers an hour because of the gravel road. It was actually not too shabby, a little corrugation here and there, a flooded drift which we chanced and a very muddy pass coming down. All in all it was a pleasant drive.
There is a little secret about Cederberg – due to its isolation and high altitude the vines are pest free. The climate in the Cederberg region is a cool Mediterranean climate. The average temperature during the day varies between 12 to 18 °C in winter. An in January/February temperatures can rise from 29.3 °C to 39.9 °C in February. We all know February is the hottest month in the Western Cape. .🥵🥵
The farm, Dwarsrivier, where most of the grapes for Cederberg Wines are cultivated, is situated at the foot of Sneeuberg Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Western Cape. Sneeuberg is 2 026 m above sea level. Cederberg Private Cellar claims to have the highest vineyards in the Western Cape, at between 950 and 1 100 m above sea level. You can read more about their unique terroir on their website..
This has to be one of the most uniquest scenic wine farms in South Africa. Most of the time you see the mountains but here… you are in the mountains. Then let us not even get me started on what I have to say about Cederberg wines? Absolutely phenomenal. Really interesting winemaking techniques. Needless to say I would love to visit again – but longer.
What is even more interesting is Cedeberg wines have a farm in Elim. Yes guys… that Elim the one on your way to Cape Agulhus. Grapes are picked and then shipped in trucks which drives all the way to Cederberg wines (400km) where it gets transformed into liquid gold.
Needless to say I came home with some really unique wines which I am super excited to share with you. So make sure you follow me on Insta. One of them which I’m super stoked about the Ghost Corner (hoek al from Elim)… and it was another mind blow wine!!
Here in the Cederberg valley time stands still because here you will find one of the last wine farms that still make a Bukettraube! Which I will also review… 🙂
After breaking the bank account and adding extra weight to our little karretjie, we hit the long road once again.
How stunning is this pass – called Uitkyk and what a view it provides. It almost gives you a feelling being in the Drakensberg – certainly NOT the Western Cape. We finally made our way down to Clanwilliam.
Cederberg Wines to Clanwilliam
After a refuel of tummy and petrol tank – we headed for the last trek. Eish!!! Little did we know this last stretch was gonna give us a headache. Due to the much traffic of everyone taking this route – the road was heavily corrugated, bad potholes, and sections I thought… oh my poor car she is not going to make it! Oh and not to mention the endless gravel road which just goes on and on and on… Just when you think you done, nope as you get to top of the hill you see more plains and no sight of a tar road or town….
The road was only 124km – but it took us 2h30m to get through the R364! Traveling at about 30 – 40 km an hour it was tedious and taxing. It felt like we were never going to reach the West Coast.
Clanwilliam to Niewoudtville via Pakhuis and Boskloof
Looking at the above photo’s do you see it vlaktes after vlaktes…
The flowers however were absolutely beautiful for miles you see bursts of pink, white that looks like snow, yellow and orange! It was magnificent. Needless to say the amount of passes and ever changing landscapes. Despite our annoyance it is a gorgeous drive and would have hanged around and take more photo’s and explore a few landmarks. However it was getting late and we still had to check in at our accommodation in Doringbaai.
Nearing to the end of this long exasperating road we hit trouble. There was a massive mud puddle. Due to some heavy rain. There was NO freaking way that we were going to turn back – we had about 20 kilometers left so we pushed through the mud puddle without getting stuck and we made it unscathed or did we?
So when we finally hit Niewoudtville (Yay!!) – we stopped for some refreshments. When I came to the car, I said to hubs, why do I smell petrol as I climbed in the car. So hubby asked for me to hop out he will move forward and I must check if there is any wet spots on the tar. There was two small ones… and it smelt of petrol. Not sure if it was our car or the car before us. Hubby hopped out checked under the car (more to the front) and he could not see anything leaking or damaged. So we went off to the Niewoudtville waterfall.
Wow we are truly blessed to have experienced the waterfall the way we did. Clearly an indication that the area received some seriously good rain.
After an exploration of the waterfall area, we headed back to the car and boom as you arrive near the car you smell petrol and this time it was strong. Hubby reversed again and we saw there was wet spots on the gravel. Hubby checked more at the back of the car. Low and behold… there was a leak. A clear indication that we hit a hole in our petrol tank – so what now? We are miles away from any civilization. How bad is this leak? It is also 4pm – where will we find a place to do a repair on that magnitude?
Luckily – we back in the land of signal.
On our way to vanRhynsdorp, I start googling and phoning to see who can help us. Luckily we found someone who was happy to help us and was willing to wait for us to arrive as it would be after 5pm. The panel beater could only do a quick fix of sugar and sunlight soap (the bar). Somehow the solution with the reaction of petrol makes it go solid and works as a plug.
Would this work? Would this incident ruin our West Coast Vacay… I don’t know you tell me… because I will tell you in my next article if this quick fix actually worked. 😜