In between our attempts at finding somewhere to live (harder than you would believe to find an unfurnished, pet-friendly house to rent in these parts, anyway) – and some work of course – Stu and I have managed to discover a few lovely spots and take a couple of road trips in our new (but very second-hand) Land-cruiser. I wanted to share my favourites (so far) with you.
- Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market
Location: Sedgefield (on the N2, Wilderness side)
Timing: Saturdays, 8am until 11.30am (winter)
This is a bit of an institution I believe, so many of you may already know about this spot. It opens (and closes) early, and is very popular, so make sure you get there sooner rather than later on a Saturday morning. Really is the perfect place to get your fresh veg, farm butter, free-range eggs & chicken, biltong, home-made soups, fudge, pies, cheese & the best yoghurt in the world (from Ganzvlei Dairy). I like to start off with a delicious omelette, but Stu swears by the German wurst-roll thing with onion, washed down with a double-shot latte.
Location: Turn off the R62 between Calitzdorp and Ladismith, the road (dirt) will take you to through the poort and on to Laingsburg
We were invited for lunch at a friend’s house in the Karoo, so armed with the directions (no distances I might add or we may not have gone so far for such a short visit) we set off. The poort is, in a word, spectacular. The small dirt road leads you through the dramatic folds of the Swartberg mountain range. The road was originally built by convicts in 1850 according to my new favourite book – On Route in South Africa – along the course of the stream through the defile, some 17km. This was completed in 1862.
Stu and I discussed the possible source of the name of the poort on our trip through there, I thought maybe it had taken 7 weeks to travel in an ox-wagon, but on consulting the book later we discovered there are several ideas about this, all centred around it taking 7 weeks for certain groups of people to traverse the poort for different reasons (so I wasn’t that far off). The most likely explanation however is that it is a corruption of the original name given to it – Zerwicks Poort after one of the founder members of a mission station at Amalienstein. It is also apparently haunted by the ghost of one of the original tollkeepers, seen on “dark and stormy nights” by several motorists who report being flagged down by a man swinging a lamp who subsequently vanished. Whatever the origin of the name it is certainly worth a visit.
- Freshline Fisheries – Catch of the Day
Location: Knysna, railway siding dockyard
Timing: Monday – Saturday, 11am – 7pm
We first stumbled onto this spot one weekend when some friends were visiting us. We had been for a drive and were feeling peckish, so I had a quick look on my phone for somewhere to eat, and this came up on Google with some great reviews, so we thought, “why not?” A very casual but inviting spot tucked behind the Tait Marine, largely an outdoor eating area made up of picnic style tables set on beach sand. The menu looked amazing – fresh prawns, fish and seafood platters either grilled or prepared Weskus style (on the braai). We were initially dismayed to discover they are unlicensed – but relaxed when the waitress told us we could “bring our own, no corkage”. The boys popped off to the bottle store round the corner, and we enjoyed a super scrummy lunch in the sun. Yummeeeee!
- Tottie’s Farm Kitchen & Country Store
Location: Knysna, Rheenendal Road
Timing: Sunday lunch buffet
Stu spotted the ad for this lunchtime buffet in the Action Ads (our little local classifieds printed weekly). As we had family visiting we thought we would give it a try before they headed home. Its a delightful place, eccentrically decorated. The food is very homely, with an Afrikaans slant (like beans with potato or a very sweet pumpkin pie) but delicious and fresh. We enjoyed the live music as we sat outside in the sun chatting.
- East Head Cafe
Location: Knysna, East Head
Timing: Monday – Sunday, 8am – 5pm
Set in a stunning location with a view of the Knysna heads this cafe supports the Go Local campaign with Naturally Knysna – serving locally, responsibly produced food and drink where-ever possible. The staff are always friendly, the breakfasts are divine, the view is a postcard. Best to go out of season to avoid the crowds, or get there early. No wonder it is rated the #1 restaurant in Knysna. No argument here.
Location: between Oudtshoorn and De Rust on the R407
If you are travelling to Prince Albert (as we were for the weekend) you have a choice of 2 routes really from Knysna – over the Swartberg Pass or through Meiringspoort. We elected to take the poort, mostly to see how it compared to Seweweekspoort which we had travelled a week or two before that. The road, built in 1857 at a cost of £5,000, crosses the river about 30 times, with most of the causeways or “drifs” having a unique name. All of this is well explained in the visitors’ centre at the waterfall (near the De Rust side of the poort). Its well worth the short walk up the hill to see the waterfall and read some of the history of the poort. Whilst less spectacular than Seweweekspoort it is still a lovely drive with plenty of spots to stop for a picnic lunch, like we did both ways.
Our intention was to take the Swartberg Pass coming back, and so see both in one trip. As it turns out we ended up coming back the same way via the poort and then going on via Uniondale and into Knysna via the Prince Alfred pass – a white-knuckle road (not helped by the big wash-aways they have had leaving it a single lane journey most of the way) but worth punishing your nerves for as the views are breathtaking.
Look out for a small shop on the side of the road between Oudtshoorn and De Rust. Called “Tickled Pink” they stock wine and produce from the entire Klein Karoo area, so you can stock up on all that lovely olive oil and their own award-winning port called Doornkraal.
- Enrico’s Restaurant
Location: Keurboomsstrand, outside Plett
Timing: every day except Monday
Stu and I spent a lovely day today in Keurboomsstrand where we had a delicious lunch – Oxtail for me, Ossobucco for Stu. We were hoping to spot some whales but unfortunately the wind was blowing and the sea was rough so we spotted nothing but our delicious food. On our way back we took a detour in the Harkerville forest to the Kranshoek National Park. This is a SanParks spot with lovely coastal walks and mountain bike trails, so we will definitely be back to explore this a bit more once our bikes and hiking boots are unpacked.On the way home we ended up stuck on the N2 just before Knysna due to some rioting that has been happening at that spot on and off for a few weeks. There is some dissatisfaction about the distribution of RDP housing here it seems (that is the current theory although nothing is certain). After sitting for about an hour I realised from FB updates that another lady I had met recently was also stuck in the jam. After a discussion we decided to brave the forestry road and take a detour to get back into Knysna. So in convoy we set off, it was rather stressful in my little car but she did beautifully and we made it back safely in time to feed the cats. Sjoe.
I hope you had a great day. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
*featured image: Meiringspoort