Heat shimmers in waves off the tar, the air is as dry as ostrich biltong and smells faintly of the fynbos that thrives on either side of the road in the rich rust coloured earth. Mountains frame the views in distant washed out greys and the land changes to shades of green as we turn off to De Zeekoe.
This luxury accommodation is on a working farm on the R328, just ten kilometers outside of Oudtshoorn . It is far enough to get the rural feeling but a five minute drive will get you into town so it really offers the best of both worlds.
De Zeekoe has three separate areas offering accommodation to cater for different needs. The luxury suites are at the main reception next to the restaurant and pool flanked by a true Karoo wind pump, play area and fire pit.
At the top of the hill are the self catering stone cottages offering privacy and views forever and down in the dip are the rustic wooden chalets overlooking the dam.
Bellowing cows joined the dawn chorus and sunrise called my name. The tick tick of the huge water sprayers drew me like a magnet pulling me in for an unplanned shower, and the horses in the field laughed.
The colours are on steroids and I have to drag myself away to go for breakfast.
This huge digger passes me on the farm path. There is something very sexy about these giant working vehicles.
The farm is already busy with farmy type activities as I wander back to my room to shower, dress and head off for food.
Fed and well coffeed up, it’s time to visit some locally recommended places and Die Smitswinkel is the first stop. The interior is a great collection of #Karoomobilia, I just quickly made up that word, but think of little wind pumps, mugs, keyrings, meerkats, carpets, clothing and of course food, all made in true Karoo style or depicting something iconic from the area.
Good for an hours browsing at least.
Then go out the back and top up with some more coffee, this time from Blacksmith, the roasters with heart. Called the Blacksmith Coffee Movement, it’s about making fantastic coffee with a good conscience. Fair trade principles are adhered to, and the Barista Upliftment Program offers real hope and opportunities for the youth. Please go and look at their website, buy their coffee and drink some goodness.
Oudtshoorn is a perfect starting point for a circular drive you will never forget. You need an early start and a whole day to really enjoy this, and probably the next two days to return to your favourite finds.
Some highlights of this route include R328. Known as the Cango Route, there are plenty of attractions on the 50km you travel before reaching the start of the mighty Swartberg Pass. Olive estates, Karusa Winery and Tapas, Kobus se Gat country pub, Wilgewandel Holiday Farm and Bella Mia Olives and Pottery to name just a few.
Plan a day or three to visit and explore the fine wines and ports from the Klein Karoo Wine Route.
Take your time as you navigate the Swartberg Pass, stop at the viewing points and marvel at the genius engineering of Thomas Bain. The building of the pass was completed in 1886 and used only by carts and wagons. The first time a car traversed the pass was in 1904.
These views have to be photographed somehow, and I was forced by Anje to resort to extreme measures to get the shots I wanted.
We left too late to do the whole route and after passing signs telling us that the road might be closed we passed a lorry coming the other way who said we could continue. We got totally side tracked by the burned veld and the proteas that survived, that we never made it to the top.
Earlier in the year when I planned to drive this amazing pass, a short way up, this happened and the pass was closed. Maybe next time 🙁
On completing the drive over the pass, you can either carry on for about 10km to the town of Prince Albert, well worth a visit, or turn right onto the R407, continue on to the N12 and drive along the prettiest pass in South Africa, the Meiringspoort Pass.
This will take you into De Rust. Visit the Village Art Scene, enjoy a donkey cart ride, and do not miss the Doornkraal winery just out of town or Mons Ruber directly opposite. Pot stilled brandy, witblits and entertaining conversation await you. From there a drive of 25km will take you back into Oudtshoorn.
Curious ostriches come to say hi, or buzz off from their home on the lower slopes of the Swartberg Pass.
Driving back into De Zeekoe the dipping sun got our attention and the race was on to find the best spot for some pics.
We raced around the farm like lunatics, stopping to gasp, click and do another 360 scan before we finally settled at the river.
Joggers and cyclists passed us as we sat here in awe.
We waited until the very end, silent, humbled by the show that the Karoo sky put on.
The next night we went to the dam and were rewarded again with a spectacular show.
The only sounds are the birds and the frogs and the click of a camera.
DeZeekoe is a nature lover and photographer’s dream.
An activity not too miss is a Meerkat Encounter on the property. Ethical, incredible and discounted to DeZeekoe guests, you can read about my experience here.