Published: March 29th 2005March 29th 2005
I dunno, stick some goats in a tower and you think you have a license to sell dull bland wine to the masses. The goats were cool though.
The time I spent floating in the Orange River that sunny afternoon might better be measured in millilitres and ABV than in hours and minutes - three tall Windhoek’s and a stubby of Castle precisely. Initially the place was crowded with school kids swimming across the border to Namibia, and Kim bathed her wounds as we had a pleasant conversation with a South African couple, interested in the economics of overlanding (a common theme through Southern Africa). Kim had to leave for cook duty as did the schoolies so I was alone for at least one can, sitting in the water on the Namibian side, gazing at the desert hills and the strip of greenery around me. Bliss.
Then a longish drive south through fairly dull scenery brought us to the Oliphants River valley, the Cedarburg Mountains and the welcoming smile of Reinhardt at Gecko backpackers.
That night heralded my team’s last cook duty, and we dutifully lit a wood fire and cooked by the light of our head torches, until half way through we realised the Gecko’s kitchen was more than up to the task. More astonishingly, they had something for heating water called a kettle - after
The twelve apostles and Camps bay
After a cloudy sunset from Lion's Head, about five hours before our flight back.
ten weeks we had become so accustomed to cooking in the outdoors that it took some time to adjust.
Next morning we rose early for a guided walk up into the Cedarburg. This turned into a nature walk more than a hike and our guide was extremely informative and passionate about the wilderness lore he has learned from his forefathers - something that may be unusual for his generation.
The Cedarburg seem to be ideal hills for weekend running and biking, being only two hours by car from Cape Town, with many tracked and off-track routes - although some of the latter require forcing through pretty dense (waist-high) vegetation. That evening, in a role reversal, Kim joined the footy lads watching the England/Northern Ireland game whilst I wandered lonely as a cloud in the hills out the back of the hostel. Then we watched Sean Connery in “The Rock”, once again. Civilisation was encroaching fast.
A leisurely drive the next morning took us to the wine and university town of Stellenbosch. For some reason I was unusually desperate to get off the truck and into some Vineyards and so was very happy when Kim scrounged a lift
from the tourist information to the Delaire vineyard situated high on the mountain pass between Stellenbosch and Franschoek. We supped the wines and admired the view then took a wander to see if any nearby vineyards were open, being Easter Sunday ‘n all. Sadly Thelima wasn’t open but we wandered down to Zorgvliet, a relatively new vineyard at only three years of age, and dutifully worked our way through their offerings.
We did a full wine tour the next day covering Simonsig, Fairview, Boschendahl and Delaire as well as lunch near Franschoek. It was a beautiful day with stunning scenery, but I can’t help thinking South African wine is struggling compared to its competitors in both the Old and New world. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to drink nice New World style whites in South Africa then there are plenty at a good price, but once exported I would expect the price increase means they will be viewed unfavourably against wines that are often in a different class for the same price. As for Reds, well it was a struggle to find anything with any real body or length. I think the winemakers in many cases are
doing as well as they can with the grapes, and there are some nice lighter, smoother drinking reds around, but they tend to be quite one-dimensional. For the record my favourite was probably Simonsig Tiara (can’t remember which year), a Bordeaux blend that, well, tasted like a Bordeaux blend (Kim preferred the slightly pricier Shiraz), and I had several large glasses of Hartenberg Cab Sav in the rarefied leather clad atmosphere of the WineHaus restaurant/bar. After all, we’d deserved it, hadn’t we?
And, at last, Cape Town, for two days - the first being the final day of the tour. After a lot of running around to upload photos to this website and to the group CD of the tour we set off late for an evening stroll up Lion’s Head from Sea Point. The walk up was stunningly beautiful, the path gradually climbing through eucalyptus and fynbos-type bush, with the streets of Sea Point falling away to the sea below. Stupidly we hadn’t checked the sunset time, and it was half an hour earlier than it had been in Namibia. Even more stupidly in the rush to leave we had forgotten our torches. The end result was that
we never made it to the top of Lion’s Head, we didn’t get any nice sunset photos, and we spent more than an hour carefully negotiating the rocky track back down in the increasing darkness. After finally making it to the hostel at about 8.30pm it was a quick turnaround to join the final group meal at the Waterfront, which was scrumptious, with many great toasts and speeches - and thanks once again to Paul the Passenger for the champers.
Our last day dawned with a cracking hangover and a lack of sleep. We decided to rent a car to get us around and to the airport, and after a much-needed greasy fry up we headed south through Camps Bay towards Llandudno. On the way we saw the profile of the wreck of the Oakburn in the distance, and so we thought we would attempt to get to it. This took more than an hour of coastal rock-hopping one way, incidentally passing through the Sandy Beach nudist area, which seemed to be exclusively populated by middle-aged men.
We continued our drive around Table Mountain in search of food, although we were still full from breakfast. We stopped on
the east side to sample the wines of Groot-Constantia, the oldest Vineyard in South Africa. To be honest the selection was pretty poor, although their 2003 port, whilst not in anyway resembling port, was a quite pleasant heavy drinking wine. The Muscat was also nearly passable, only spoilt by an odd aftertaste.
Uninspired by the Constantia Vineyard’s restaurant we decided to head back to Camps Bay to the Codfather, the very first South African restaurant we ever ate in, nearly three years ago. Despite our more meagre budget, which led to an overdose of squid in favour of the rather expensive king prawns, it didn’t disappoint - the tuna in particular was delightful. Then, after a brief walk on the sands we saw that the weather was clearing and so we thought we should have another try at Lion’s Head. This time we drove up to the col, saving a fair bit of climb and distance, and took the easier path around the side. We never really got a clear view of Table Mountain but the whole sunset trip was a fitting end to our African adventure. Two hours later we were in the airport.
So that’s it.
Rhino covered 14780km from Nairobi to Cape Town with the diversion to Rwanda… all at a maximum speed of 80km per hour.
On the way we saw:
- Leopards: 0
- Wild Cheetahs: 1
- Overland Bosses: 3
- White Rhino: ~3
- Cheetahs in parks: 4 - 10
- Black Rhino: 5 - 15
- Hippos out of the water: 10 - 20
- Wild Crocodiles: 15 - 20
- Lions: 20 - 40
- Jackals: >20
- Hyenas: >20
- Fish Eagles: >50
- Other big or funny looking birds: >100
- Buffalo: >100
- Elephants: >100
- Hippos in the water: >100
- Giraffe: >100
- Baboons: >100
- Thieving Gypsy Vervets: >100
- Wildebeest: >500
- Zebra: >500
- Crocs in the croc farm: >500
- Antelopes of all sorts: >1000
- plus lots and lots of other stuff that would be cool if one wasn't too busy looking at the elephants
It just remains to thank the excellent team of Paul the Driver and Nicky for running a fantastic trip both professionally and proficiently. We would also like to thank all our co-passengers for making the whole experience really
enjoyable and entertaining and keeping stress and frustration to a minimum.
There are more photos below