JEEEEZ!!! Almost 2 years later, I realize that I haven’t done a post about our epic West Coast and Kalahari expedition waaaay back in 2018. Peter Pan and I are always up for a good adventure and when we are unable to escape the borders, we like to explore all the little nooks and crannies of South Africa. On this specific trip, we decided to drive down to Cape Town for Christmas to spend with family and then headed all the way up the west coast of SA, sticking as close to the coast as we possibly could.
We used Waze along with Google Maps to try and find all the backroads going North and discovered some incredibly out-of-the-way little towns stuck in the middle of nowhere; places that the average tourist would never really venture to, and not only did we discover friendly people, amazing home-cooked meals and whacky little towns but also just how incredibly diverse our beautiful country is!!!
Don’t ask me to remember where this was (somewhere en-route to Cape Town from KZN), but we found these incredible fields full of purple flowers and just HAD to get out and snap some ‘Insta’ moments standing among them (and have a wee break lol), and discovered that these are actually leeks!!! I know right? Weird, and so beautiful!
Found this crazy train station called ‘Oven’! Seriously creative person that thought up that name… Look it was hot as anything there but still! Couldn’t resist a photo though. There’s just something about old railways that I love!
Found this incredibly long single track concrete road in the middle of nowhere where each passing car or truck has to completely pull off the road to pass by each other. Didn’t even know it existed until we found it!
Fast forward till boxing day and we were on our way after visiting the family over Christmas. We stopped for lunch at The Strandloper in Langebaan. This barefoot beach sand restaurant is one of our absolute favourites and boasts endless supplies of various seafood for you to relax and have a long, lazy lunch. It’s a great atmosphere if you take a bunch of friends along but equally as fun as a couple! This is a definite to put on your list when traveling to Langebaan!
When we were done with lunch, we drove around the corner and headed to Saldanha Bay where we stayed the night at the Protea Hotel and explored the town before sunset. It was beautiful seeing all the little fishing boats coming in and out of the harbor with the days’ fresh catch.
The next day we headed up along the dusty coastal roads sticking as close to the coastline as possible. A short stop in Lamberts Bay and then carried on with what seemed to be all the mining roads (of which a lot had NO ENTRY signs) but managed to achieve our goal. We passed the much spoken about 2km long trains which cross our country transporting goods and traveled under endless blue skies as we watched the landscape change from town to town…
We passed through the Namaqua National Park which during August and September is usually FULL of wildflowers that cover the ground in a blanket of color. December, unfortunately, is a completely different story and it looks more like a moonscape!
We stayed in a little town called Kamieskroon, which during the flower season is bustling with tourists and photographers, but we had the entire town to ourselves! Due to the incredibly high temperatures during the December months, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, travels anywhere into the interior of South Africa, nevermind the far north! Everywhere we called to pre-bo accommodation told us that we had to be some sort of crazy to be traveling there! Well, we are crazy, but we do have some fantastic adventures because of it!
We got to the town a bit late and discovered that there was nowhere to eat as the town pretty much shuts down over December when everyone goes on holiday to the coast to try and escape the heat, so we found a tiny corner tea room and bought some tinned veggies, spaghetti and a bottle of wine and had date night on the floor of our BnB! You can honestly find romance anywhere if you just look hard enough!
We stopped in at Hondeklipbaai to have lunch at this rocking little seaside restaurant. This place is seriously in the middle of fucking nowhere but man did they have great food and good music! The locals were staring at us like we were from another planet!!!
Now here’s an interesting place! Port Nolloth hs got to be one of the weirdest towns I’ve visited! On arrival, we saw this funfair set up on the outskirts that looked absolutely deserted. The town itself had a number of strange-looking homes, no shops or restaurants for like at least 100km in any direction, and yet the beach campsite was OVERFLOWING with people on holiday!!! Who the hell comes all the way here to camp like a bunch of sardines all on top of each other? The sea is freezing, the ablutions were awful, the town had no facilities… maybe I’m missing the boat here?
Okay, well just when I thought that Port Nolloth was bad, we found… Tucked away in the most Northwesterly corner of South Africa, Alexander Bay is from another world! I know that this is a mining town, but you have got to be a special kind of special to live here! Look, it was great to see and I’m glad I’ve ticked it off my bucket list but I don’t foresee any trips there in the future! I don’t think you could pay me a million bucks a second to live there.
From there we hugged the border of Namibia and into a section of the Richtersveld. The desolate scenery is absolutely beautiful and despite e incredible heat, it was free from the crowds and exactly where we wanted to be!
We decided to treat ourselves for a night or two and stay at a resort. We Googled in the car and found the Orange River Resort. Well, we sort of pictured chalets set on rolling green lawns with families braaing and kids swimming and really just having a good shower and a comfy bed to rejuvenate ourselves after so much driving… Well… we arrived in this one-horse town an were told to come ‘collect our keys’…WARNING BELLS!!! An old colored lady ran out from her little shanty house and gave us directions to the resort. We drove for about 20km winding through the mountains, and arrived at this!!! Yup, those white doors were the bedrooms! We were theeee ONLY humans there for miles (despite a few goats) and we almost melted. The pool had been filled in with concrete and well…that was it. We made the most of the desolation and explored a bit but were super happy to see the back of that place!
I had seen pictures taken of this old church in Pella and was super keen to take some photos, so we headed there on our way out and it was not disappointing! The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception was just too beautiful! It took them seven years to build. Not having any plans, they designed the church from a picture in a book. The building in the picture had flying buttresses, so their church had flying buttresses. Bricks were made 9 kilometers away at the Orange River and limestone was transported by ox wagon from 160 km away and slaked with the water from the oasis. Inexperienced at building, they learnt the trade as they built the church. Only the altar was imported. Even the ironwork for the staircase was forged by these two priests at Pella. The church was consecrated in 1895 by Bishop Rooney of Cape Town.
And then to our final destination to spend New Years! We wanted to free camp on a dry pan in the middle of nowhere, and so this is what we found. Thinking we would stock up on some food and drinks in Philandersbron was clearly a stupid idea. The dusty town didn’t even have a shop, so we just had to make do with what we already had. We had pinpointed a farm (The Camel Milk Farm), couldn’t get hold of anyone to ask if we could actually camp there, so thought we’d just take a chance when we got there. We called the number on the gate the farmer told us that he was on holiday in Cape Town but that we should drive to his daughter’s farm next door and ask her. Well, ‘next door’ in the Kalahari can be anything between 20-100km away and hers was somewhere in-between that. We drove to the farmhouse, greeted the family, and explained our story. They kindly gave us some fresh drinking water and their 15-year-old daughter drove us around their farm and showed us a few spots we could camp.
For old years day, we’d brought my tin bath from home and a blow-up kiddies seahorse pool which we filled with water, pitched an umbrella, and soaked like hippos with cocktails and music the entire day! What a simple but wonderful adventure!!! We laughed like kids, made Snapchat videos and then braaied an apricot jam and garlic snoek (fish) for supper! Seriously one of my most memorable New Year ever!!!
We’re not sure if this is something the farmers would let anyone do again, but it might be worth dropping them an email to ask? Lkoppieskraal@gmail.com