The scenic Route 62, between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, has been named by CNN Travel as the world’s best road trip destination. Here are five must-see stops along the legendary Western Cape route.
A CNN Travel poll, as voted by tourists and travel journalists, puts the scenic and fun-filled road between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, Route 62, as the top road trip destination in the world, beating out a host of legendary global grand tours including Canada’s Alcan Highway and the Ticlio Pass in Peru.
While Route 62 primarily connects Cape Town to Oudtshoorn, and ultimately the Garden Route further east, a host of attractions and activities along the road, and off its beaten path, incorporate smaller towns in the area, including Montagu, Humansdorp and parts of the Klein Karoo.
CNN calls the road “a journey to the unexpected”, with something for everyone, highlighting the natural beauty of the region’s “fauna, rivers, valleys and plains” and the diversity of activities available that turn the seemingly mundane commute into an adventure.
Everything and anything from wine tours and safari drives, heritage and art tours, hiking and mountain climbing, water sport and fishing, or just quiet contemplation while watching one of kind views with a cold drink and a good meal, Route 62 has it all.
The legendary roadside bar, midway on the route, is a quirky and fun stop, popular among tourists and regular road warriors alike.
Legend has it that in the late 1970s, local farmer Ronald Price opened a roadside produce stall, complete with a proudly handpainted sign. Friends of Ronnie mischievously amended the sign to its now infamous title, and convinced Ronnie to turn the stall into a coffee shop-bar for bikers and other travellers.
Forty years later, and the quirkiness of the place didn’t end at the sign. Inside, the bar is completely covered with travellers’ graffiti, donated neckties, bras and other random bric-a-brac, ceiling to floor. Ronnies includes a full restaurant, overnight accommodation, communal pool with vista views of famous Karoo sunsets and good old-fashioned peace and quiet from the busy road, with just a touch of good-natured anarchy.
Incorporating hundreds of small, up-and-coming winemakers and larger, more established wine farms, Route 62’s world class wine route centres on the industry’s defacto capital – the town of Robertson – where not only can you visit the Klipdrift brandy plant and see how this South African magic is made, but you get to taste some of the country’s award-winning wines. The town’s annual Wacky Wine Festival (between April and June) is a must-attend event, gathering the best wines of the region for wine fans with a sense of humour and a taste for the adventurous.
Just beyond Robertson, the mountain town of Montagu is not only the home of South Africa’s dried fruit and nut industry, but it also has a popular natural spring spa and some of the best rock climbing in Africa.
Located inside the foothills of the Swartberg range and just outside Oudtshoorn, this extensive limestone system of tunnels and chambers dates back millions of years, and reaches almost 300m underground.
Visitors can choose to see the caves as part of a conventional walking tour, or do something more daring in the Adventure Tour. It offers guided climbing tours through the caves’ darkest, narrowest and deepest chambers.
Like the rest of South Africa, the Route 62 region is rich in and famous for its variety of flora and fauna, from the world famous Garden Route bloom in September to the ostrich industries of Oudtshoorn. Here, visitors can ride an ostrich, buy ostrich curios and even sample the famous ostrich steak.
There are a number of wildlife reserves, both private and public, including the Touwsberg nature reserve, near the town of Ladismith, and the Sanbona reserve. The latter offers both a heritage tour of the area’s indigenous San culture and there’s a chance you’ll see the only free-roaming white lions in the world.
Animals that can be spotted regularly in the area include smaller buck: klipspringer, steenbok, duiker and springbok, as well as larger game such as wildebeest, kudu, giraffe, gemsbok and the Cape mountain zebra. Predators include leopard, rooikat and jackal.
Meerkat Magic, also outside Oudtshoorn, is a one-of-a-kind research reserve, dedicated exclusively to studying the habits of wild meerkats. Open to the public, visitors can join guided tours of meerkat colonies with knowledgeable guides, and even learn how these popular creatures communicate.
From the dusty hum of the Klein Karoo and the lush, rolling valleys of the Breede River to the never-ending Swartberg mountain massifs in-between, while Route 62 might offer the best food, drink and roadside entertainment, there is still nothing that compares to just stopping anywhere along the route to appreciate the peaceful beauty of the region’s diverse landscape.
Watch a video of the great views captured by Route 62 travellers here
For more insight on Route 62 and the surrounding area, visit the Route 62 website.
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