My Southern African Road Trip Day 1, Thursday 28 November 2013 – Cape Town to Clanwilliam


Feeling very unsure of myself, I hit the road.  The plan was to leave at 5am, but as usual, I left a couple of hours later and hit some heavy morning traffic as soon as I got on the N7.

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On the road

As the N7 stretched its legs to the wilder reaches of Western Cape, the traffic cleared up. And as the kilometers melted away one by one, so did my self-doubt, and that rare but familiar sense of being a little grain of sand, just flying away on the wind to who knows where, slowly took over.

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The N7 – Cape Namibia Route

All the way down the N7 lies wheat farm after wheat farm or is it grain? The landscape for alot of the way is rather flat, with some eroded hills which seem to provide alot of dirt road opportunities. At that point I didn’t feel I would do it alone though. But I felt for June, when Gaby and I plan to paint SA roads with rubber together its good to know there’s enough dirt to play on. Halfway between Cape Town and Malmesbury is ‘Zone 7’. I’d heard of it before. A nice place specifically for fun with dirt bikes and quads. A good place to spend a couple of hours polishing up some dirt skills. Further on is little berg also with a dirt road … more opportunity there. And all along the way there are nice little farm stalls and other little hills with dirt roads there.

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Open road and happy me.

Passing the towns of Malmesbury, Moorreesburg, Piketberg, and Citrusdal, and it was smooth sailing until just after Piekenierskloof pass. After Piekenierskloof Pass (Crossing the Olifants River Mountain Chain), which takes one into Citrusdal, there’s quite a few stop and go roadworks. They’re doing the road up nicely. Its at these stop and go spots that I discovered that the DRZ doesn’t overheat, the clutch cable seems to have adjusted itself in a way that didn’t disengage the clutch completely, making gear changing a little rough. Also stopping in gear and clutch in, still felt like the bike wants to move. The biggest issue was really the seat. Ouch, Ouch, Ouch. Not good for the long distance. Its motocross style, very narrow. My average speed was between 90 and 110 km/h.

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Beginning of Piekenierskloof Pass

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Scenery from Piekenierskloof Pass

Stop/Go roadworks on the N7

Stop/Go roadworks on the N7

Once in Clanwilliam, I started my investigations for places to stay over. The hotels/B&B’s in the town started at about R400, which was a bit much for my liking so I opted to ride a further 30km or so over beautiful Pakhuis Pass to explore a few more options.

The first place I checked out on the pass was called ‘De Pakhuis’ There’s options of rooms or camping. Which was fine and all, I would have taken a room there if not for the hectic 1km or so of soft sand which one has to ride through to get through the place. Going in was so stressful, and the 2km to the campsight was even worse, so I tried to get out there as quickly and calmly as I could manage and never looked back.  Little did I know that this little bit of dirt was only a very mild warmup for what was waiting for me in the days to come.

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Pakhuis Pass at the intersection for ‘De Pakhuis’

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Another section of Pakhuis Pass

In the end I settled on a little stone house at ‘Travelers Rest’. The terrain in was not too bad, and it was private, in the mountains, serene. In the R300+ price range, but I realized that there was not cheaper option anywhere unless I wanted to sand-surf into De Pakhuis again.

This place looks rather promising to the weary traveller (Brandewyn=Brandy)

This place looks rather promising to the weary traveler (Brandewyn=Brandy)

I booked in at Traveler’s Rest at 4.30pm and afterward I went to find out about doing the Sevilla Rock Art Trail which is linked to Travelers rest.  Its 5 km long, and took me about 2.5 hours.  Its an art gallery of the ancient past right there in nature. The paintings are quite faded. They have marked out 9 spots along the path which are sites with nice clear paintings still. These are not all the sites though, there are more. My only disappointment with this is that The Travelers Rest charges a further R40 to go on the trail. Which is not really a lot but I feel that at least they should permit people staying in their accommodation hike there for free.

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Bushman paintings on the Sevilla Rock Art trail

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Bushman paintings on the Sevilla Rock Art trail

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Massive rock along Sevilla rock art trail that seems to be impossibly balancing on a small corner of itself. There are several bushman paintings on this rock.

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The river running alongside the Sevilla Rock Art Trail in the Cedarberg

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The landscape on the Sevilla Rock Art trail

After cursing in my head about the price of the places, I stopped to listen. Its like a concert of nature. As the sun was setting, just the twittering of birds, and buzzing of flies. The soft breeze rustling the vegetation. When night fell, things started walking on the roof. A bit scary. The only synthetic sounds were a faint ticking at the electrical mains and the loud hum of the refrigerator which I switched off.

I nearly fell asleep, relaxing  belly up on the rock outside the stone house, looking up at the stars. Dark skies are a special treat for me. Brilliant stars against a pitch black sky. Wherever I fixed my eyes there was a shooting star, and 3 or 4 moving satellites. Stars twinkling. Hypnotizing. And then something moved in the bushes, and my city girl nerves were shot to hell and I spent the rest of the darkness sleeping behind closed doors and windows fighting with mosquitos.

To see more posts about my Southern African Roadtrip Nov/Dec 2013, follow this link

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