“The road is lonnnnngggg, with many a winding turn…” I think this song was written about the road from Cape Town to Graaff Reinet. I’m kidding; I know Neil Diamond didn’t have the R62 in mind when he wrote “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” but after spending almost 12 hours on the road to the #MeetSouthAfrica instameet this past weekend, it did become my earworm for that journey.
I am grateful for the GPS on my HTC M8 because I’m not too sure an old fashioned map book would have made it this easy to choose a route for our longest road trip yet. Once we chose between the N1, N2 or R62 it was simply a matter of researching a place to stop every 2 hours and breaking up the journey into bite sized pieces.
While I spent a lot of my childhood on the N2 to Port Elizabeth, I hadn’t explored the R62 in its entirety yet so, the choice was easy. What a great choice!
Our first stop would obviously be Diesel and Crème in Barrydale for lunch because MILKSHAKES so we had to drive through Ashton and Montagu to get there. I challenge you to find a more beautiful route. Do yourself a favour and stop off at Platform 62 for some coffee, so that the kids can explore the old steam train or feed the chickens behind this padstal. And don’t forget to look out for the hole in the mountain that you have to drive through, on your way there.
After filling up the Ford Figo (again) in Ladismith, it was a straight shot to Outshoorn via Calitzdorp and a quick detour to pop into the Cango Wildlife Ranch. I could go on a rant here about ticket prices of R140 per adult and R90 per child which makes it completely unreasonable for a local to access the ranch for themselves, but that is a post for another day.
Outshoorn is a reasonable half way point for this journey on the R62 and, if we’d had the means, we would have slept over there before driving on but, as usual, money was too tight to mention so, on we drove. If you take the N2, you might want to sleep over in Mossel Bay and if you choose the N1, somewhere between Laingsburg and Leeu Gamka is a good option.
The kids had loads of fun spotting sheep, cows, ostriches and horses along the way. I even spotted a rabbit (yes, it was alive) chilling on the side of the road. Once we had crossed the border into the Eastern Cape, we had to slow down for monkeys and tortoises meandering along the road and we found the Karoo to be anything but dry and boring. From windmills to fynbos, we found this “desert” to be surprisingly green and filled with wildlife.
Be aware of the speed limits in place when driving into towns as you will often find traffic officials waiting in the wings to make their Christmas bonus. You will need to drop your speed from 120 to 80 and then sometimes to 40km/h in a fairly short amount of time and it is particularly difficult if you have just come down a pass.
Despite the fact that we left Cape Town just after 8am, we arrived in Graaff Reinet at 6:30pm which is a long day for one person to drive.
I highly recommend sleeping over halfway through the journey so that you have more than enough time to explore the beautiful towns you will find nestled all along the R62. Since time was against us, the R62 needs to be explored again (properly) when we tour South Africa as a family in 2016.