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To Hell and back – Gamkaskloof ( Die Hel ) re visited.
Great dinner on Saturday night – properly rounded off with a 1993 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Thanks Stellio! Sunday morning dawned and with it came the need for a decent breakfast but unfortunately “force majeur” conspired to remove electricity. Vague thoughts of a drive to Gamkaskloof were suddenly cemented and 8.30 saw the Subaru Outback from Action Rentals pointing to Outdshoorn. A relaxed drive through De Rust and Meiringspoort – but what a drive. If you haven’t been to this part of the world, or if you haven’t visited recently, it is well worth reacquainting yourself with it. De Rust is the perfect base for an activity-filled holiday, from climbing and mountain biking in the Kamanassie, to exploring the Cango Caves, Meiringspoort or Seweweekspoort, to visiting Gamkaskloof (also known as “Die Hel” or “The Hell”) and Prince Albert via the Swartberg Pass. Visit an ostrich farm or take a wine-route excursion to spoil your taste buds with some of the country’s finest cuisine, or go fossil-hunting on the endless plains of the Great Karoo. We however would not be partaking of any of this today. With the breath-taking views of Meiringspoort behind us, we hurried to catch breakfast at the hotel in Prince Albert.
Mission accomplished and time to set off on the real reason for our visit. Gamkaskloof 37. Travelling time 2 hours. So reads the sign from the Swartberg Pass showing you where to turn into this world heritage site. A nice gentle start to this road which although a bit rocky can be safely and easily transversed in your Subaru. Giant rocks and lots of proteas highlight the route although the damage from the fire a year ago is still clearly visible. New shoots contrast sharply with the burnt plants surrounding them. Not too much time to enjoy them while driving though as the sheer drops can punish the distracted driver. No real challenges on route but the narrow roads and wild terrain do require focus and concentration – meeting a car travelling in the opposite direction will often require one of the cars to reverse to where the road widens to allow safe passage. Even more so on the final approach to Gamkaskloof where the descent is steep and the road barely wide enough for one car in places.
And so after a relatively slow but comfortable two hour drive we arrived at “Ouma Sannie se Winkel” for an ice cold drink, and to stock up on a jar of delicious fig preserve.
A short walk, a stretch and time to start the return leg of the trip. Just as scenic and breathtaking and a couple of hours later sees us back at the Swartberg Pass. Sharp right this time and return through the rest of the Swartberg towards Outdshoorn. But the descent sees us at Kobus se Gat – a windswept restaurant near Meintjies?? and a burger stifling the hunger pans.
The final stretch goes by unobtrusively and 7.00p.m. sees the return home to where power has been restored.
10 hours in the car and none the worse for wear! A great outing made a lot more comfortable by the Subaru Outback. I would have happily done it again the next day – didn’t buy enough fig preserve you see…….
This article first appeared in Ultimate Drive SC.
The Subaru SUV used was supplied by Action Rentals. Rent a Subaru in George and explore the Garden Route. Great value car hire. Rent your 4×4 at actionrentals.co.za/book/