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April 19, 2013 / samwilson60

Into the hills

As far as homeward planning went, we settled for the fact that we were (again, in a characteristically roundabout way) heading for Pretoria, where we’d resume the visa shopping and settle on some sort of timetable for the east coast. We were aware – and, believe it or not still, are – that time would be tight but we were also having so much fun in South Africa, there was no question of taking a beeline or rushing too much. With that in mind, Cat went for a dip before leaving Agulhas (where the Indian Ocean is just as cold as the Atlantic), then we headed inland for some hiking in the hills.

We intersected the scenic Route 62 via the Cogman’s Kloof Pass at Montagu, which seemed as good a place as any to stretch our legs. It turned out to be even better than expected – the small town was lovely and our campsite – at a small farm guesthouse – was perfect.

For sunset we walked up a nearby hill that overlooked the pass we driven through on our way into town. It was just the right level of excursion for that evening but while up top we agreed it was definitely worth sticking around for a second night so that we could do a slightly more ambitious hike the following day.

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Our slightly more ambitious hike was a 20km round trip that took us up 1,000m to the Bloupunt summit and back down again via a string of poorly signposted, rather petite but very picturesque little waterfalls. It was a beautifully clear day and a really fun hike. Despite our rather sedentary lifestyle on the road, we were surprised at how well we’d fared and pledged to do more of this while we had the chance.

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The following day we really needed to cover some ground, and for that the scenic Route 62 was perfect. We delayed our departure a little in our quest for internet but, wow, was it worth it… Instead of hot, stinky cybers, this town had real cafes that offered both wi-fi and home cooking J

Fuelled by breakfast pies and mountain air, we had an awesome drive to Oudtshoorn and proceeded straight to the nearby Cango Caves. We got the last tour of the day and, despite having thought we’d seen ‘caves’ before, were blown away by the scale and beauty of the place.

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The sun was rapidly setting by the time we left, looking for a wild camp somewhere around the Swartberg pass. We soon realised this was a step too far this late in the day. Every time we turned towards the sun we were blinded and we didn’t want to spoil what was billed to be such a great drive, so before long we turned back to a campsite we’d just passed, initially thinking it looked a little too flashy for our tastes or pockets. The entrance gates only fuelled this assumption so we were very pleasantly relieved to find out it was actually very good value and we had the place all to ourselves.

We didn’t regret biding our time – in the morning light the pass was awesome, and the canyon going south again was cool too.

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