For previous posts in this series, please follow this link.
On the penultimate day of our Great South African Escape 4x4 Tour, we wake up in the magical village of Hogsback.
Hogsback is without a doubt one of our favourite places. Our hosts at The Edge Mountain Retreat encourages us to wonder through and explore their beautiful gardens which are filled with azaleas, rhododendrons, beeches, birches, dogwoods, camellias and enormous oaks, chestnuts and liquid amber's. Have your morning coffee in the lovely walled rose garden and you may discover a few plants you have never seen before!
From the edge of the cliff, which runs along the side of the property, there are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and a deep gorge with beautiful, unspoiled indigenous Afromontane forest, often with a show of fascinating swirling mists and cloud formations.
Following a mouth-watering breakfast, we head off to our final destination, Waschbank River Lodge.
Just outside of Hogsback we reach the beginning of Michel’s Pass, where we will stop at and have a group photograph. Michel’s Pass is a 16km long twin-track trail and ends in Seymour. There are a few rocky sections on the pass but nothing to be worried about. You will see a few old abandoned broken down farmhouses on the route. These farms failed in the early 1900’s due to livestock dying off because of droughts in the area. Feel free to stop and take photos!
In Seymour, we turn off the tar and head over the Katberg Pass. This is a stunning gravel pass with some challenging off-road sections. The pass climbs a spectacular 673 vertical metres over 13.8km, summiting at 1625m ASL. The views will topple your soul into a place of wonder and awe.
Katberg pass leads us on to one of our favourite passes of this entire tour:
The Devils Bellows Pass, which starts at 1623m ASL and summits at 1713m will inspire your passion for adventure and your apatite for freedom. There is something about driving alongside wild horses in a beautiful setting such as the Winterberg mountain range. A deep feeling of adventure gets awakened in your soul. Perhaps it's because wild horses are a symbol of strength and freedom...
On our previous adventure motorcycle tour through these mountains, one of our riders had the good fortune of having a wild horse run alongside his motorcycle for a stretch of about a kilometre! It's moments like these that one does not easily forget.
We exit the Winterberg and continue on to Tarkastad, where we'll grab a bite to eat at one of the quant little coffee shops.
After Tarkastad we start heading for !Gariep dam. We make our way through Hofmeyer and Steynsburg and will enjoy our last bit of gravel road before driving on the tar road with the beautiful Karoo skyline framing the end of this adventure:
How does one accurately describe the vastness of the beautiful Karoo? Brent Naude-Moseley & Steve Moseley captured it quite accurately in their Getaway Guide to the Karoo:
"Flat scrublands and grasslands interrupted by ridges of dolerite rock, dominated by conical hills and flat-topped mesas."
As our adventure starts to come to a close we'll be greeted by the Majestic !Gariep dam, which in the afternoon Karoo sun will provide the perfect backdrop for some stunning photos.
Our Final stay will be at the beautiful Waschbank River Lodge, which is situated on the banks of the breathtaking Orange River. One is instantly captivated by the sweet angelic melody of the ever flowing waters.
Waschbank's refined rooms are well equipped and boast with a charming view of South Africa’s largest river. The calming silence, striking stars and the sound of the royal river will bring a sense of solitude and reflection following our sensory activating adventure. Our hosts Zelmarie, Sonette and Vanessa will treat you with the warmest Karoo kindness and serve delectable, traditional Homemade meals.
As the sun sets over the Orange river, we will take some time to reflect on the adventure and share our favourite experiences. This is always a very high point to each of our explorers.
In the morning, after a delicious breakfast, we take an optional 17km drive to visit the !Gariep Dam Wall. We drive over the dam wall itself to get to the viewpoint. Completed in 1971, it was originally named the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam. The wall is 88m high and has a crest length of 914m and contains approximately 1.73 million m³ of concrete. It’s the largest dam in South Africa. “!Gariep” is an ancient San word for “great water”. In the Khoekhoe language, the exclamation mark represents the click made before the word is pronounced.
After we've explored a little, we say our farewells to our travel companions, with whom we have shared this awe-inspiring South African 4x4 trip, where the unknown became the adventure, and we created memories to last a lifetime.
BOOK YOUR GREAT SOUTH AFRICAN ESCAPE ADVENTURE ON OUR WEBSITE AND GET 10% OFF YOUR TOUR FEE BY USING THE COUPON CODE "10OFFGE" AT CHECKOUT: BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE
In our first blog post in this series, in reference to all the chaos we are facing in these very strange times, we asked the following questions: "How do we keep on going? How do we come together to face great challenges? How do we live our beautiful saying of Ubuntu - I am because you are?"
In our experience one of the best ways is to listen to that inner voice. The voice that's trying to tell us that as human beings, we are programmed for adventure.
The pandemic is not over - not by a long shot. We are slowly starting to get used to this new normal. But in all of this chaos, we have to take some time to nurture our souls, to find order in the disorder - it is of vital importance.
From SA Adventure's side we are going to do our best to take the lessons we've learnt and to keep on adventuring; responsibly.
We would like to thank you for your continued support and for joining us in this series of blog posts on one of our favourite 4x4 tours. To us, South Africa will always remain the most magestic country in the world. If you don't agree with us, please consider coming along on one of our tours, all our fellow travellers are always left in awe when they see the magnificent rivers, canyons, sea, forests, plains, deserts and mountains that South Africa has to offer. But more than the sights, there is an ancient feeling in this place. One that can't be intellectualised or described in words, it has to be felt.
Please share this post with your friends and family on your social media channels, it really helps us!...
Please support local South African companies during this trying time...
Stay Safe, Big Love, the SA Adventure Team!