Our road trip continues, and our travels have taken us to one of the oldest Dutch settlements in South Africa, Swellendam, to a small national park with big views and finally to Calitzdorp, a sleepy,little, country settlement busting at the seams with port winemakers.
While the road to Swellendam from Stanford wound through some beautiful vineyards, we did not find the town that interesting. It felt a bit run down with not much going on, but we stayed at a small inn on a wine farm, Jan Harmsgat, about 20km from town which gave us access to some fantastic hiking trails.
And we were close to the small, but impressive Botebok National Park where we had a short trek and toured some of the park by car. It had an impressive amount of wild springbok, gemsbok, and not surprisingly, bontebok roaming free. Surprising, however, there was also an impressive amount of turtles roaming free as well – curious given the hot and arid conditions.
Further up the road, we visited the small, mountain hamlet of Montagu (we did not find Capulet). It felt like one of those small, hippie towns you find in Arizona or in parts of California.
We ran into curious birds siting in trees. One of the blocks at the edge of town has trees that is a home to what looked like hundreds of egrets.
It was then on to Calitzdorp which sits at the edge of the Little Karoo (a high dessert known for its geology and ostrich production). We were there only for one night but were able to sample at least 10 different port wines. De Krans, winner of the best port of 2014 in South Africa, had some great ones including their award winning Cape Vintage Reserve 2012. Good wine is incredibly affordable for those with USD. We have often found great bottles for $8-$10 dollars and some fantastic bottles for less than $20. Unfortunately, not much is shipped or distributed to the US and a lot of it makes its way to the UK.
Our next stop is Prince Albert at the base of the infamous Swartberg Pass where we tested our horribly, underpowered VW Polo.