Karoo offers a place away from it all

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iol travel july 14 Copy of NT Taaibosch1. INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Peace and quiet on the porch at Taaiboschfontein in the Karoo. Pictures: Myrtle Ryan

Kimberley - Fans of Deon Meyer’s books will know of Lemmer, a fictional private bodyguard, who lives in the small Karoo town of Loxton.

On the N1 between Beaufort West and Three Sisters, just after crossing the Krom River, I spotted a small turn-off leading to Loxton.

The last time we wanted to use this road, the Krom had burst its banks and the road was closed due to flooding.

Now opportunity knocked… and I set off on my favourite kind of adventure, exploring the spiderweb of backroads which weave through our country. Though I have been to Loxton before, this would be a new approach.

As luck would have it, on returning to Durban, the first book I took out of the library was one in which another of Meyer’s inimitable characters, riding a BMW motorbike, skidded on to this very road while trying to escape a police roadblock, amid pouring rain and muddy conditions.

Today, though, the sun was high in a cloud-free sky. As for me, my steed was not nearly as dramatic as a roaring, powerful bike… a simple bakkie had to suffice.

iol travel july 14 NT Taaibosch5. A thoroughbred at Taaiboschfontein. INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Some 14km later, the entrance gate to Taaiboschfontein, a working sheep farm at the foot of the Nuwe-veld mountains, loomed.

Set amid typical Karoo koppies, scrub, and vast vistas, it seemed irresistible.

Here, isolation is the keyword.

A lonely windmill clanked as it turned ponderously; the wind whispered its way across flowering Karoo bush; stately poplars; a green garden with several small statuettes; colourful flowers nodding at the base of tall pine trees; a typical small farm reservoir; and many wonderful walks to choose from across the veld.

What more could a lover of the great outdoors ask for? Some tasty Karoo meat? Braaipacks are available, as this is a self-catering venue.

It is also part of the Krom River Riverine Rabbit Conservancy, though none of the elusive bunnies even twitched an ear, no matter how hard I searched.

Sitting on the porch outside one of the rooms, soaking up the atmosphere was heaven-sent.

The bedrooms have plenty of character. Some of the cottages had been built from the carved blocks of stone typical of many farmhouses in this part of the land.

Having been lured by Taaiboschfontein meant there was no time to continue to Loxton, so on my departure, continuing further along this road, I took the turn-off to Victoria West.

Meandering tracks in the dust told a tale of their own.

Two donkey carts had shambolled their way through here recently, and these beasts of burden looked as though they had indulged in some form of tipple.

At Wagenaarskraal, a short distance further, a happy party of people were having a picnic under the trees. The donkeys were outspanned and munching contentedly – or maybe working off a hangover. In friendly fashion, the humans waved while the animals just flicked an ear.

There were now three options: continue to Victoria West via one of two different routes, or circle back to join the N12 between Victoria West and Three Sisters… a route which takes one back full circle to Three Sisters to rejoin the N1. A quick calculation showed this should be my choice.

As I write this, jets are thundering across the skies as Durban hosts its first Land, Sea and Air Festival and I long for the peace and quiet of places such as Taaiboschfontein.

On the other hand, people living in those silent rural parts, would probably exchange their donkey cart for a couple of days’ excitement and thrills in Durban.

l Call 082 446 0228 or visit www.taaiboschfonteinguestlodge.co.za

Saturday Star

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