Route 62, named after the famous Route 66 in the US, is a stunning road that runs parallel to the Garden Route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. On our last visit to South Africa, we decided to drive the Garden Route from Port Elizabeth to George and then joined Route 62 from Oudtshoorn to Worcester before we left for Somerset West and the Winelands.
We took the Outeniqua Pass from George, which takes you on narrow winding roads through the Outeniqua mountains, which were really incredible! The Outeniqua pass is a relatively modern road, but there are a lot of passes to choose from, so you can join wherever suits you!
Our first stop was Oudtshoorn, which is the ostrich capital of the world. Driving through Oudtshoorn with it's wide, tree-lined streets, jacarandas and vintage houses feels like you have stepped back in time... which is pretty much how we felt for the rest of the journey, in a good way! The people are friendly, the landscape is beautiful and it is altogether a much slower pace of life.
Our next stop was the Cango Caves, which you can explore with a guide. We had the option of a standard or an adventure tour. I did the standard and Chris did the adventure which involved crawling though and climbing up loads of narrow passages. I was quite pleased with my choice when we left the caves and saw all the articles of the people who had got stuck and had to be rescued by the fire service! Chris enjoyed it though... and if you like caves it is a really impressive and well worth the stop.
For a lot of the way it was really hot and dry... completely opposite to the garden route. We drove past countless vineyards; through sleepy Calitzdorp (which is the home of pink port in South Africa... unfortunately it was a Sunday and everything was closed!); stopped at Ronnie's Sex Shop, a little bar on the side of the road that you would miss if you blinked. It is run by Ronnie, a crazy old, well-travelled man, who seems to be permanently drunk. Despite being in the middle of no-where, the stop has become very popular and the bar has autographs, bras, t-shirts and business cards everywhere you look. It is worth a stop for a nice cold beer and a chat with Ronnie!
When you reach Barrydale, the scenery changes again, from hot and dry land to green mountains and colourful fruit trees. This area is known for its vineyards, orchards, peach and apricot trees, rock climbing, hiking trails, hot springs, art galleries and bird sanctuaries... it is a photographers paradise!
We stayed in a small peaceful cottage on someones land, where there were also a few rock climbers camping in the garden. We went out for dinner to a little art gallery/ cafe down the road for some home-cooked stew and some of their own wine. Down the road was Leidam Bird Sanctuary, which you can't really miss if you are staying in Montagu. You can hear the birds before you see them... hundreds of Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Ibis, Weavers etc. I am not a bird watcher (I got the names from the little viewing deck!), but you can't help be fascinated by all the birds in this small space.
With all it's beauty and diversity I can't recommend Route 62 enough! I will definitely be returning next time I am there!