Travel in South Africa - from Matjiesfontein to Cape Town
Table Mountain - View from Bloubergstrand
South Africa - right at the bottom of Africa
A road trip from the North West Province to Cape Town, South Africa
We find ourselves at Matjiesfontein, only three hours away from Cape Town. Shall we spend the night in the beguiling Lord Milner Hotel, or shall we hit the road and be in time to see the sun set on the Atlantic Ocean?
The reader will only comprehend our hesitation when they go back to the beginning of our journey, from where we have left the North West Province at Orkney, our travelling through the vast flats of the Orange Free State and then, refreshed after a good night’s rest in the once splendid Springfontein Hotel, our trip through the semi-desert called the Great Karoo. Read all about the first phase of our tour HERE.
Matjiesfontein - Lord Milner Hotel
From Matjiesfontein to Touwsrivier
Of course, the ocean is like a magnet, encouraging many to do the road trip of fifteen and a half hours from Klerksdorp to Cape Town in one session.
Fifty minutes later we pass Touws_River, a small, sleepy railway town hosting only about 7000 people. Here we reach the end of the Karoo and the beginning of the beautiful, mountainous Western Cape and its Mediterranean climate.
Part of a large anticline in the Cape_Fold_Belt, the Hex River Mountains is the second highest mountain range in the Western Cape province, with peaks up to 2,249 metres (7,379 feet). During winter (July/August) these mountains are covered with snow. However, it is October and we are at the beginning of summer. The valleys are paradises filled with deciduous fruit trees - cherries, peaches, olives, and grapes. The flats are covered with the Cape Province's very unique vegetation, called Fynbos (Fine Bush), which forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom (Capensis) - one of ONLY six floristic kingdoms in the world. Read more about fynbos HERE.
From Touwsrivier to WorcesterClick thumbnail to view full-size
Mountains between Worcester and Cape Town, South AfricaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Fynbos (Fine Bush)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Worcester is the largest town in the Western Cape's interior region and known as the capital of the Breede Rivier Valley. Mountains upon mountains actually delimit the entire district. Since before 1700 the area was known as the Breede River Valley. It was a hunter's paradise and the main source of income, with licenses issued by the Dutch East India Company, was elephant tusks. Those days the area was inhabited by the San people (hunter/gatherers) and the Khoi people (livestock farmers). However, by 1713 the San and Khoi people were almost extinct due to the smallpox virus that was introduced to them by the European settlers. From 1860 onwards, due to the input of German settlers, orchards and vineyards reduced livestock farming. Today this area – the Breede River Valley - is the largest wine producing region in South Africa. The first Black Africans, employed as cheap labour, arrived in 1945, at the end of the First World War.
Worcester, South AfricaClick thumbnail to view full-size
From Worcester to Cape Town
From Worcester to Cape Town
Our decision to rush to Cape Town instead of having a good night’s rest at Matjiesfontein now takes its toll.
It is dusky by the time we drive through Paarl (Pearl), though we can clearly see the majestic Pearl Mountain (Paarl Rock), edged against the sky. This is the second largest granite outcrop in the world - geological bubbles that originated millions of years ago in the boiling lower crust of the earth.
After Cape Town and Stellenbosch, Paarl is the third oldest town (or rather European settlement) in South Africa, officially ‘claimed’ in 1687 when Governor Simon van der Stel gave title to the first colonial farms to "free burghers" in the area. Today it is the largest town in the region called the Cape Winelands.
It was here, at the Victor Verster Correctional Centre, renamed as Drakenstein Correctional Centre, where Nelson Mandela ended his 27 years imprisonment on February 11, 1990. Read Nelson Mandela’s biography HERE.
A monument for the Afrikaans language is also here, officially opened on October 10, 1975 to commemorate the day when Afrikaans was declared one of South Africa’s official languages separated from Dutch on 5 May 1925. Read more about the Afrikaans language HERE.
In this town is also a small archive - The Drakenstein Heemkring - run and funded entirely by a group of dedicated volunteers. Read more about their doings HERE.
Read more about Paarl HERE.
Read my hub about the Paarl -
- Travel in South Africa – The Paarl
Only 40 minutes drive from Cape Town is Paarl - the 3rd oldest European settlement in South Africa
Paarl, Stellenbosh, StrandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Thirty minutes after Paarl, when we drive through Stellenbosch, it was dark. But two days later we will get an opportunity to visit this second oldest town in South Africa. (More about Stellenbosch to be published in another hub)
Then, on the horizon, we see Table Mountain, glowing like a beacon among the stars.
Read my hub about Stellenbosch and the Cape Winelands
- Travel in South Africa - Stellenbosh and the Cape W...
A photo tour of Stellenbosch, a wine route and strawberry picking in South Africa
Tafelberg (Table Mountain)
Table Mountain’s level plateau of approximately 3 kilometres (2 miles) long and up to 1,087 metres (3,566 ft) high, has made it a most significant landmark since the Portuguese navigator, Bartholomeu Dias, discovered the feasible sea route from Europe to India via the south of Africa in 1488. The first European to land in Table Bay was António de Saldanha in 1503. He named the mountain Taboa do Cabo (Table of the Cape).
The ‘table’ is the northern end of a sandstone mountain range that forms the ‘spine’ of the Cape Peninsula. (Driving all the way to the southern point (Cape Point) and back, is on our agenda for tomorrow. We’ll drive down on the east side of the ‘spine’ and back on the west side.)
Table Mountain is often covered by orographic clouds, formed when a south-easterly wind goes up the mountain's slopes into colder air. The moisture then condenses to form the so-called "tablecloth" of cloud.
All its peaks and cliffs in the Table Mountain range have distinct names. Read more about them at Table_Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Signal_Hill (also known as Lion’s Rump, Lion_Head, Chapman's_Peak, and, in particularly, at another paradise in the world.
Table Mountain, Cape Town - Random PicturesClick thumbnail to view full-size
The next phase of our tour....
After a good night's rest we plan to go on a wine tasting spree....
Click on the link and read about our tour of the Cape Winelands -
More virtual tours of South Africa -
From-Klerksdorp-to-Pretoria on the N12
From-Pretoria-to-Klerksdorp on the N4
© 2014 Martie Coetser
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