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Across the Western Cape

Route 62

If you keep up the pace, you can drive the 800 kilometres between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town in one day. But those who take the time for a three-day detour along the dusty but stunning R62 will be well-rewarded with spectacular views of the Western Cape’s hinterland.

Hit the road
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Day 01

The wealth of Oudtshoorn

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Morning

Ostrich Stop

The first stop lies a few hours beyond the official start of R62, which disappears into the mountains at Humansdorp, a town located just outside of Port Elizabeth. In Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world, visit an ‘ostrich show farm’ to learn more about these unique birds. Lightweight enthusiasts may even take a ride on an ostrich. 

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Pause at Cango Ostrich Farm and combine your visit with a tour of the Cango Caves, a 4-kilometre-long cave system.

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Afternoon

Ostrich Palaces

Enjoy lunch at Café Brûlé, an intimate lunch restaurant housed in one of the many colonial buildings that date back to the glory days of Oudtshoorn. At the start of the 19th century, the town made a lot of money selling ostrich feathers and the richest merchants built opulent villas that were known as ‘feather palaces’. After lunch, take the time to admire these wonderful buildings. The finest examples are Le Roux Townhouse, Century Manor and Mimosa Lodge. 

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Evening

Steak for dessert

Check in at La Plume, an active ostrich farm and hotel, founded in 1902. The ornately decorated guest rooms feature plenty of ostrich leather, eggs and feathers. But the rest of the facilities are also beautifully appointed and meticulously maintained. Conclude the day at Jemima’s Restaurant, a cosy restaurant that serves delicious meals prepared with local ingredients. Of course the menu offers ostrich steak, but the outstanding Karoo lamb chops are also worth trying.

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Day 02

The eccentric hinterland

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Morning

Port in Calitzdorp

Off to an early start: today we cover the longest distance, straight across the Kleine Karoo, a desert-like region of which some parts resemble Arizona and others are reminiscent of Provence. The first stop will be at Calitzdorp. Over time, this friendly town has specialised in the production of port. Tasting room Boplaas serves several award-winning selections. ‘Cape Wine Master’ Carel Nel has already been awarded the prize for best South African port seven times.

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Afternoon

Desert and dessert

In the barren landscape between Ladismith and Barrydale you will encounter this unusual sight: Ronnies Sex Shop. But the name couldn’t be more inaccurate; it is the result of a joke that got out of hand, yet a very effective way to stand out in the middle of nowhere. This eccentric bar, including grey-haired Ronnie, has become a beloved institution along R62. The cake and soft drinks Ronnie serves up are definitely appropriate for all ages.

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Evening

Montagu

By nightfall you will reach the wealthy village of Montagu. Bell-gabled houses representing the Cape Dutch architecture alternate with typical Victorian houses. Everything is beautifully preserved. After a long day of driving it is a relief to check in at The Victorian 1906 Hotel, a luxury guesthouse with suites that offer a view of Langeberg Mountain. Dine on the premises at Restaurant 1906. The name is a reference to the building’s long history.

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Day 03

Jumping, Hiking, Dining

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Pete Titmuss / Alamy Stock Photo

Before visiting the tasting rooms, enjoy a breath of fresh air. And what better place than to go way up high? Head to the Robertson Airfield, where the oldest skydiving club in South Africa, Skydive Robertson, organises its outings.

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Morning

Fresh Air

After passing Montagu you will leave the official R62, which for some obscure reason becomes the R60 once you reach the Robertson Wine Valley. However, most people still include Robertson as a stop along the route.

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Afternoon

Sample or hike

Before completing the route, plan a break in the afternoon to sample the wines at the Robertson Wine Valley or enjoy a long hike through the beautiful canyon that runs between the Langeberg and Riviersonderend mountain ranges.

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Don’t forget to savour a long lazy lunch, perhaps at Fraai Uitzicht 1798 (Dutch for ‘beautiful view’), a location that absolutely lives up to the expectations.

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Evening

A gourmet finish

The last stop is Franschhoek, a town located about 75 kilometres from Cape Town. Check in at the Basse Provence Guest House, a typical Cape Dutch villa nestled among ancient oaks and vineyards.

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It’s not easy to tear yourself away from the spacious suites under the thatched roof, but going out for dinner in Franschhoek, the gourmet capital of South Africa, is an absolute must. Get a table at the Tasting Room, one of the country’s best restaurants, run by Dutch chef Margot Janse.

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