Nothing beats a good old road trip, so when I was given a travel assignment to visit some parts of the Western Cape earlier this month, I could not resist the urge to do a road trip.
Just the thought of taking a scenic drive through the mountains and along the coast is enough to whet one’s appetite.
In the weeks before the trip, I looked at the routes and some of the places I was keen to visit.
As a traveller you want to experience new and diverse things, and this trip did that for me.
I left L’Agulhas at about 8am on a 35-minute drive to Bredasdorp and thankfully the weather was beautiful.
Bredasdorp was named after the first mayor of Cape Town, Michiel van Breda, who is best known as the father of the merino sheep industry, having been the first in the country to introduce the animals on his farm, Zoetendals Vallei, in the 1800s.
Bredasdorp is a quaint little town, amid giant proteas and wheat fields. It keeps to its rural, “dorp”-type atmosphere and is quiet enough for a mini-retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
Once in Bredasdorp, I visited Kapula Candles, for a private candle-making session. Ilse Appelgryn started the business as a hobby in her kitchen in 1993 and a year later opened it to the public with one assistant, but it has grown, and now she has 120 people working for her.
While there, her team was busy working to finish an order for a major retail company. An enticing smell of wax and fragrant candles hugs your nostrils as you enter into the factories which comprise five sections, including handicrafts and ceramic factories.
Margaret van Reenen, one of the supervisors, showed me around and I got to see staff members as they worked their magic. Wax is heated and once clear, water is poured into individual moulds.
On average, about 1500 candles are produced a week for a design. After being converted into candles, different designs are created, some incorporating the Africa theme.
Old candles are recycled or turned into colour crayons. Ceramic production is another trade Kapula’s staff have learnt and perfected. From espresso cups to plates, the designs will keep you spellbound.
The excitement made me hungry and I was keen to try out the local cuisines A quick drive to one of Napier’s breakfast spots was what I needed.
Napier was established in 1838 when Van Breda and his neighbour, Pieter Voltelyn van der Byl, could not agree where the church should be. This resulted in two separate churches, and two separate towns, Bredasdorp and Napier.
Napier was named after the then governor of the Cape, Sir George Napier.
I stopped at Pascal’s of Napier, a chic hotspot on the main road. The restaurant is named after a black cat I saw waltzing around as if he owned the place. Technically, the cat did. The restaurant carries his name, after all.
The decor was rustic with sunflowers and vintage elements merging together. I ordered a butternut soup and a Brazilian-nut frappé. To my delight, both were good, and refreshed me for the rest of the drive.
There was a string of other restaurants and accommodation spots on the main road, so if you are keen on spending a few days in Napier you will never be short of places to see and things to do.
The sun bathed my face as I drove the 57km to Caledon, making me believe once again that open roads are the stuff dreams are made of. Seeing the world in front of me gave me added enthusiasm to enjoy every moment of the trip.
Cows grazed in the lush green fields while birds chirped a morning song for drivers. I noticed throughout the trip there were many Gauteng visitors on the R316.
I was excited about Caledon, and counted down the kilometres until I got there.
Caledon is famous for its hot springs that were discovered by the early Khoi people. Interestingly, the water of Caledon is also free of organic matter and when submitted to the Chicago World Fair, in 1893, it was awarded first prize as the world’s top quality mineral water.
The Caledon Hotel and Spa was my stop during this leg of the journey, and I had to try their hot springs.
The warm mineral bath was amazing, and lazing around in the hot water was therapeutic and relaxing.
There were a lot of older folk when I arrived, but that was probably because it was a weekday.
Sadly, the Turkish baths were out of order so I did not have the opportunity to lather myself in clay and wait for the cold showers to clean me up.
After I freshened up, I explored the machines and eateries at the Caledon Casino.
By 2pm, it was time to visit Porcupine Hill, which is a 31-minute drive from Caledon.
Although my visit was brief, it was magical and I enjoyed exploring the 220ha farm with river walks, swims, hikes and mountain bike rides.
With all the fun I had, there was still a three-hour drive to Langebaan. Half way through the trip, I stopped at the Theewaterskloof Dam, on the Sonderend River near Villiersdorp, but I needed to reach Langebaan before sunset so didn’t linger. By the time I reached my destination, all I wanted to do was put my feet up and watch the ocean.