After leaving Rondeberg, we drove into Clanwilliam and had an English breakfast in Nancy’s Tea Rooms, then restocked at the Spar, and found the local Agri-Mart store. This is a cross between a DIY shop and farmers store, here we bought a few bits for the truck, and refilled our 5kg South African gas bottle. Then set off for our pre-booked camping spot that would see us through the crazy time of Christmas and New Year, at Jamaka in the Cederberg Mountains. The drive to the organic citrus farm took us high up over a very steep pass, and then back down into the beautiful valley below, this was the sign just over the top of the pass. The 1km walk down was very steep, the 10km drive was steep enough!
Jamaka is a big camp site (maybe 200 sites), but they are stretched all along the river, under trees, and not in the regimental way that some camp sites are run. We spent 11 days at Jamaka and had a really good time, and we met some great people here, with invites not only to their camps for drinks, but also invites to spend New Years Eve with people at their homes in Capetown. We were especially made welcome by Carlos, his wife and family and the bikers that they were camping with over Christmas (we had a great Boxing Day night with these guys).
While we were staying at Jamaka, the Cape area was experiencing a bit of a heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 40c some days and the only time to go for a walk really was early in the morning before the sun became too hot, and we did have some great walks through the mango, lemon and lime orchards, along the river and up into the hills (though not as far as we would have liked due to the heat).
The photo below was taken from the rocks above the river, and you can see the tree line that hugs the river and it is under these trees that the various camp spots are located, it stretches for approx 3km from end to end.
With the intense heat the only way to cool down was to take a plunge and a swim in the ice cold mountain river, and it really did cool you down, especially if you went for an early morning dip after a sweaty walk.
This was our favourite spot, it was about 2 metres deep, and about 30m long so swimming in here was perfectly feasible, there were also a couple of large boulders that were just under the surface in the margins, that you could sit on but still be in the water, and watch the fish re-emerge to swim up and down below you.
Whilst here we did a few jobs on the truck, including stripping out the shower, fixing a minor leak behind it and re-sealing it up with silicone. We have suffered a few minor leaks, and I’m convinced they are caused by a combination of the extreme heat of the Namibian desert and the very rough corrugated gravel tracks. Once these are fixed (usually no more than tightening up of a Jubilee Clip) they don’t seem to give any more trouble.
Colonel K was decked out in all his Christmas finest, which the local kids seem to find very amusing.
And for Christmas, I made Jac a walking/anti-snake stick (it makes her feel better while walking, though I’m not sure what she will do with the stick if a Cape Cobra rears up in front of her). Its amazing what you can do with a machete and a sharp knife.
Whilst we were camped at Jamaka, we learn’t that there are an abundance of Leopards living in the mountains (these are very shy animals, and you would be very lucky to spot one during the day), and because of these all the farm livestock has to be brought inside a kraal at night, or these will be taken by the big cats. Obviously we didn’t see any Leopard, but we did see some very large insects in our camp space, including the following (the first one was about 150mm long from one end to the other, and check out that huge spike on the tail of it).
Then there was this 100mm long armour plated thing that decided that it quite liked Jacs chair.
And of course a nice big millipede that set up residence with us.
And as with this whole area of South Africa, there are Tortoises everywhere.
We had a very quiet New Years Eve, seeing in 2016 outside in our hammocks (we have two now), drinking wine and fizz, and watching the brilliantly clear sky with all stars and the moon. A quiet one, but one we will never forget (and no major hangover the next day).
After New Year, we left Jamaka early in the morning (taking the short cut up the steep banks, and out through the orchards), and very slowly climbed up over the Nieuwoudt’s Pass and back towards the tarmac N7. From part of the way up the pass we took this photo which shows the river and the trees of the campsite below, the building on the right is the farm house.
On the way we realised that even the cows use the same method as us to cool down.
We had a tip off from one of the campers to stop at the top of the very long slow drag up the Piekenierskloof Pass on the N7, (this is a very hilly place), and stop for breakfast at a restaurant here to rest the truck, and have great food and coffee. This was a fantastic place to sit out on the veranda, take in the views and have a hearty breakfast. Then just as we were finishing our food Daniel (who told us about the place) and his wife and three son’s arrived, as most people we have met here in SA, they were very friendly towards us and gave us their phone number should we need any help. such as a lift anywhere in Capetown. Check out the Rooibos Latte (yes a Latte made with Rooibos tea).
We decided that the best way to see Capetown was to stay in the campsite at Melkbosstrand (about 25km North of the city centre) and then get the new bus service into the city. Melkbosstrand is very much a holiday type small town, right on the beach, and is just south of South Africa’s only Nuclear Power Station (clearly visible along the beach to the North).
To the South along the beach (towards Capetown) you can see Table Mountain dominating the sky line.
Although there was a bus stop right outside the campsite, when Jac looked online, it soon became apparent that to get to say the V&A Waterfront in Capetown, we would need to change buses two or three times, so this wasn’t practical, and we had already been told that parking Colonel K in the city was going to be an issue, so we looked at hiring a car. After a quick call to Avis, we agreed on a deal that was a no-brainer, the cost per day was just over £11.00, and they would deliver and pick up the car to and from the camp site for £18.00. So next morning a brand new Hyundai Accent was delivered right on time at 9.30 paperwork was done and Jac was a named driver! Result.
Those of you that know us, will also know that we are not city folk! We would normally be quite happy to bypass a city rather than spend time there, Capetown is different. It is set in the most spectacular setting, with the sky line dominated by Table Mountain, and it is a very clean and modern city (so unlike any other city we have seen in Africa). It also feels very safe to walk around, though we were told to be careful by many local people that we met.
The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is a mass of shopping malls (mostly expensive western shops), traditional arts and crafts shops (again quite expensive) and lots of bars and cafes. It also takes in the marina, and port areas, including the dry dock (which amazingly is still used to work on ships).
The quality of the food, wine and beers here is very good, like this rare seared Tuna, mmmmm.
But sometimes you just can’t make up your mind about what beer to drink, so maybe a bit of each sir?
Africa is hard on your clothes! Its probably a combination of over use (small wardrobe), over washing (lots of dust and dirt) and copious amounts of sweat, that just seems to destroy all your clothes, so we took the opportunity to replenish our wardrobes with more shorts and tops, and footwear (what more do you need?).
We watched this huge and very tatty Chinese fishing vessel enter the harbour (requiring all the bridges to be raised), the smell was horrendous, and it had two tugs to push and pull it into position. The next time we visited there a couple of days later, the ship was in the dry dock and having work done on it.
Our visit to Capetown coincided with the England cricket team taking on South Africa in the Second Test match, and it was full of cricket fans (also known as The Barmy Army) in the bars and restaurants. They were all very quiet and well behaved, and so unlike English football fans abroad.
Using the hire car, the next day we drove to Houtbaai, for lunch next to the marina, this was a fantastic place overlooking the angling boats returning with their catches of Yellowfin Tuna, and seemingly very happy clients.
The marina here was full of seals, and they came right under us as we sat on the veranda, having our lunch.
It was here that for the first time both Jac and I had and enjoyed Sushi, it was amazingly good, very moist, and obviously fresh fish was used.
The plan was to get the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, but we should have done it on the first day, as every day that we were there, it was either too cloudy (at the peak) or it was too windy and the cable car was closed. So alas we missed this treat, but the drive around the Houtbaai and Llandudno areas just South of Capetown shows some stunning views.
On the way back to the campsite we decided to visit a huge shopping Mall called Canal Walk in Century City, that we had passed the previous evening. Now I know that Bluewater shopping centre in Kent is big, but this place is VAST! It is so bright and glitzy, and would put to shame anything that Vegas could throw at you. We had dinner here in a very nice Italian place.
The next day (again using the rental car, and Jac driving) we drove to Cape Point or the Cape of Good Hope, via Fish Hoek, and Simonstown. These Southern Suburbs (as they are known), offer some great historical buildings, and small towns.
Then we got to Cape Point, it was quite busy here and you park quite a long way from the Lighthouse and the point itself, and it is a fair walk up (you can get a funicular railway up, but obviously we walked it).
Contrary to common belief, the Cape of Good Hope is not the most southerly place in Africa, nor is it where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean, both of these two happen at Cape L’Agulhas, which is way over to the East on Cape Overburg (we will go there too), but it is the place that the tourists flock too for their photos (like us).
On the was back to the campsite we drove up the West side of the peninsula via Scarborough, Kommetjie, and Chapmans Peak. Again this offered some amazing scenery, and as you get closer to Capetown, some very nice coastal properties. This really is the place for the rich and famous in South Africa. By the way we were told by more than a few locals that Capetown has the highest concentration of female models on the planet. I have not seen anything that would give you cause to argue this fact!!
We had our little Hyundai for four days and put over 500km on the clock (well Jac did, I had a rest from driving for a few days), we probably saved the £11.00 per day by not doing the 500km in Colonel K, but whilst it was a great way of getting around for a few days, we were glad to hand it back and carry on in our trusty Daf truck.
Next up the wine region of Stellenbosch.