At 850 kilometers, Route 62 in South Africa is considered to be the longest wine route in the world. It is the historic inland route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, connecting the east and west coasts of the country. Route 62 passes through the Cape Winelands and the Klein Karoo and is said to be the shorter, more scenic alternative to the N2 highway, and less-commercial than the famous Garden Route.
A window to the real South African countryside, Route 62 allows travellers to anticipate adventure, dramatic landscapes, and friendly towns. A postcard perfect journey altogether, Route 62 is one of the road trips in South Africa that should be on your bucket-list if you have a knack for the uncommon.
|Start/end location:||Cape Town to Oudshoorn|
|Duration:||Although Route 62 can be traversed in 2 days, a recommended self-drive trip starts at 5 days and can go up to 10 days. Its advisable to take a few leisurely sojourns in scenic towns such as Paarl, Worcester, Montagu, Calitzburg and Oudtshoorn.|
|Best time to visit:||Spring (September to November) or Autumn (March to May). Autumn has mild weather with lots of sunny days and cool evenings. In spring, visitors to this region can enjoy the spectacular sight of fruit trees in bloom.|
Day 1: Visit Paarl
Start your journey in Cape Town and head to the winelands! Although the Western Cape is considered to be the wine capital of the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa’s wine region extends from the Western Cape to the country’s eastern frontier with many popular wineries in the area known as the Klein Karoo.
Some of the best and oldest wine farms are to be found along Route 62. Setting out from Cape Town, you’ll head towards the towns of Paarl and Worcester. Paarl, also known as the pearl of the Cape Winelands is a wine lover’s dream destination. Visit a few wineries here for wine tasting and spend a night in Paarl.
Day 2: Worcester for wine tasting, cellar tours and magnificent views
The town of Worcester lies in the heart of the Breede River Valley and is known for its mountainous vistas. Soak in the stupendous views as you explore the many wine estates and do some more wine tasting. Spend a night here.
Day 3: Drive to Robertson
Spend the morning in a desert oasis: the Karoo National Botanical gardens situated at the foot of the Hex River Mountain Range offers a spectacular display of indigenous arid and semi-arid desert vegetation, including succulents and vygies. From there head to Robertson.
Klipdrift is probably one of the best known South African brandies. A stop at the Klipdrift distillery in Robertson promises to be an enjoyable experience and a great opportunity to not only taste a selection of four Klipdrift brandies, but to also buy gifts and novelties to take home. Items such as Klipdrift branded T-shirts or rugby accessories make lovely gifts.
Day 4: River rafting in Robertson
For a different perspective why not squeeze in a fun-filled day on the Breede River? Paddle past vineyards and take in the scenery from another vantage point. The 6 km stretch of what is regarded as the most picturesque part of the Breede River is calm enough for novice rafters, with just a touch of whitewater excitement thrown in.
Day 5: Next stop, Montagu
Montagu is a sprawling wonderland of orchards and vineyards situated at the western frontier of the Klein Karoo. Some of the country’s best wines and dried fruit are grown in this bountiful haven of fertile valleys. The distinctive flavour of Montagu wines is attributed to the area’s microclimate. Many of the wines to be sampled in this area, such as muscadel — a sweet fruity wine best served at room temperature or over crushed ice — are considered to be unique to Montagu.
While in Montagu, a visit to the Avalon Hot Springs is a must! It is an excellent way to soak away the stresses and strains of the road. If you find yourself enjoying Montagu and want more, there’s also mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding on offer while other interesting places to see in Montagu include a llama farm and a donkey sanctuary.
Day 6: Try some Klein Karoo tapas in Barrydale
Situated at the Joubert-Tradauw wine farm in the Tradauw valley just outside Barrydale, Deli Alfresco serves authentic Klein Karoo tapas comprising fruit, olives, nuts, cheeses and chicken wings served with homemade relish and tapenade. The menu includes many traditional South African culinary delights such as biltong salad and bobotie. The farm also produces a number of delectable wines such as the Joubert-Tradauw R62 2013, a classic oak matured red wine, named after the famous Route 62.
Day 7: Hospitality and wine, Calitzdorp
When heading from Barrydale to Calitzdorp, make a stop at ‘Ronnies Sex Shop’, an iconic Route 62 landmark. Legend has it that Ronnie, the owner-cum-barman, set up a farm stall intending to sell fresh produce. His buddies however had another idea in mind! Playing a prank on their good-natured neighbour, they amended the store signage to read “Ronnies Sex Shop” giving rise to what is today a fun and interesting pub. Ronnies Sex Shop is situated about 25 km outside the town of Barrydale, and is a must-see, not just for the intriguing name or the quirky décor, but for the promise of warm hospitality and an ice-cold drink.
Calitzdorp is the quintessential Karoo dorpie (a small town). While the sandstone neo-Byzantine Dutch-reformed church is a central feature of the town, Calitzdorp is scattered with restored Georgian and Victorian buildings mixed in amongst the typical Karoo dwellings.
Calitzdorp however, is most famous for their production of award-winning port-style wines which can be enjoyed at one of the beautiful wineries in the area. De Krans winery is situated just a few kilometres outside the town of Calitzdorp. Known for developing innovative wines, De Krans recently won the Most Innovative Wine Award for the De Krans espresso, as well as for the De Krans MCC.
Days 8 and 9: Caves, curiosities and craft beer, Oudtshoorn
As your journey winds to an end, visit the ostrich capital of the world. The town of Oudtshoorn is famous for both edible and non-edible ostrich products. Buffesldrift Game Lodge situated in Oudtshoorn is home to elephants, rhino, buffalo, lions, giraffes and hippos. A visit to the animal sanctuary is described as highly interactive, as guests are allowed to feed and brush the elephants.
Oudtshoorn is also a great base from which to plan an excursion to the nearby Cango Caves, where both heritage and adventure tours are available.
With seventeen wineries in the area Oudtshoorn presents many wine tasting opportunities. Karusa Vineyard, situated in Schoemanshoek, en-route to the Cango Caves is credited as the first full grain microbrewery in the Klein Karoo. While they offer an excellent wine-tasting experience, you could also opt for the popular craft beer with tapas, or stay for lunch.
Day 10: Swartberg Mountain Pass
We’ve saved the best for last. For a climactic end to your journey, drive along one of the many mountain passes leading out of Oudtshoorn. Here, you will experience unmatched landscapes, guaranteed to surpass the beauty of all prior Route 62 scenery. Not to be missed is a drive along the Swartberg Mountain Pass between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert. The pinnacle (pun intended) of this journey will be the climb along the dirt road to the appropriately name Die Top vantage point.
Transport: In terms of transport, any type of sedan will do. As long as it’s comfortable and has air conditioning you’re good to go! There are many car rental agencies in Cape Town and it is recommended that tourists make use of a reputable car hire company.
A hired vehicle can be returned in Port Elizabeth. There are regular flights out of Port Elizabeth either direct or connecting through O.R. Tambo to most onward destinations.
Food and accommodation: You don’t have to worry about food and accommodation along Route 62, as there are plenty of both on offer, and are varied and interesting. From rustic to super-luxurious, you will find all kinds of establishments in and around the many towns along the way. It is, however, advisable to pre-book accommodation during busy periods.
What to pack: One of the great things about a road trip is that there is no need to dress up. Comfort is key! It’s always important to pack good walking shoes, comfortable clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen. You may also want to include a bathing suit as many places have splash pools in which to cool off. A light jacket for chilly evenings, unpredictable weather and high altitude scenic drives. Speaking of which, don’t forget your camera as the sights are incredible.
- If you plan on visiting specific restaurants, coffee shops or wineries it is best to call ahead and confirm opening/closing times.
- If you’re planning to drive along one of the high-altitude mountain passes it is advisable to check the weather forecast before you set out. Road closures due to bad weather are frequent occurrences.
- Drives along some of the steeper mountain passes are not for the fainthearted and should not be attempted by nervous drivers.
- Maintenance work on the road from Oudtshoorn to the Cango Caves (R328) commenced on 13 September 2017. The expected date of completion is 3 April 2018. A stop/go system is in place with an anticipated 30-minute waiting period.
Life is a journey, not a destination, or so the old adage goe!. There is a lot to be said about the magic of an epic road trip. For those with a restless heart and an adventurous spirit, there is probably nothing in the world like the call of an open road. Equipped with a good vehicle, a great playlist and stimulating company an excursion along Route 62 in South Africa makes for a wonderful vacation.