South African is without a doubt a place of 'uniques'. Hell, this place is different.
Welcome to a country where ostriches replace horses for riding. Where we drive on the 'wrong' side of the road, according to the rest of the world. Welcome to where a 'sex shop' is a PG farm stall for the whole family and where animal dung is eaten and spat out in the name of sport.
We're super weird - there are no two ways about it. And the best way to digest our weirdness is to embrace it.
Few places in SA are as weird and wonderful as the iconic Cape Route 62, also the longest wine route in the world.
Here are our favourite unique things to get up to on the Cape Route 62.
Chill out with Meerkats
Meerkat Magic is a conservation and research project that taps into the living patterns of the wild meerkats animals using ethical techniques to gain their selective trust after many years, without ever taming them.
The Meerkat Man, Grant McIlrath, has been working with an unknown subspecies of wild meerkat he discovered in the Klein Karoo, and now offers meerkat-loving travellers the opportunity to benefit from his unique approach to wildlife conservation.
Visitors are able to walk with meerkats, learn the language of meerkats (discovered by Grant for the first time), or just watch them... you'd be surprised how entertaining they are!
Hold your breath in the Cango Caves
There are two types of tours to do in the Cango Caves, but we love the Adventure Tour - a meander through the tightest nooks and crannies of the caves. The adventure tour has the same starting point as the Heritage tour, which is great as a general, mild tour. The adventure tour, however, leads deeper into the cave, right to the heart of the Devil's dwelling place...
On this tour, you'll be challenged with having to squeeze through places like The Coffin, The Devil's Workshop, the Devil's Chimney and also the Devil's Kitchen (the names suggest it all...) But, you will be rewarded by getting to see and experience the Grand Hall, King Arthur's Throne, the Crystal Palace with its hanging crystal gardens and translucent crystal wall, as well as the Tunnel of Love and the Ice Cream Parlour.
Tours of the Cango Caves, just Oudtshoorn, are lead by experienced, knowledgeable and accredited Cave Guides. All tours are offered in English but Afrikaans, German, French and other language options are also available.
NOTE: There is a limit on the amount of visitors per touring group. Bookings are essential to guarantee your place.
Loosen your bra at Ronnie's Sex Shop
How does one name your little farm stall a 'sex shop'. Here's how.
Ronnie painted the name Ronnie's Shop on this cottage next to the R62, planning to open a farm stall to sell fresh produce and fruit. His friends played a prank on him by changing the name to Ronnie's Sex Shop.
Initially angry about the involuntary name change, Ronnie left the name and continued fixing the dilapidated building. And days went on, his friends continued to drop by for the casual chop and dop when someone suggested he just open a pub on the spot...
A Route 62 legend was born. And even though there are no crude connotations behind Ronnie's Sex Shop, some travellers have started leaving behind their underwear and clothes - which have now formed a roof of bras, panties, shirts and caps.
Ride 'em Ostriches
This is one of the most iconic Oudtshoorn activities. And if you're after the full ostrich experience, we suggest you visit a farm that gives you complete insight into ostrich farming - what it's like to raise the chicks, pluck the feathers from the grown birds, prepare ostrich meat and ostrich leather products, and compete in a real ostrich derby.
There are plenty of ostrich farms in the Klein Karoo and especially Oudtshoorn, but we love Highgate Ostrich Show Farm for their honest and respectable approach to animal interactions and visitor education.
Safari Ostrich Farm is also a working ostrich farm and is the home to the beautiful and rare White Ostrich. These guys offer cool Ostrich Farm Tractor Tours, aimed at educating visitors about these remarkable birds and their fascinating nature.
Meet 'Freedom' at Platform 62
Freedom is the local pet at Platform 62 - a big shed at the very start of the official Route 62 where local wines, food and crafts are sold.
The shed with local produce is already worth a stopover, but Freedom - a chicken - is the one you should go to see.
He's a doll when it comes to customer service - here he is helping me select the perfect wine from the region...
Check out the Boere BistroBoere Bistro in Montagu might trick you into thinking it’s a traditional family run coffee shop or food emporium while passing by during the day, but on selected evenings, this old-fashioned café can evolve into a heated sokkie jol!
One of the Travller24 team members, Ra-ees Moerat, recently visited Boere Bistro on one of these nights… he says, “They literally took all of the tables and chairs out of the restaurant, plugged in the speakers and Marula Boom’s, 'Doen die sexy hoender' song started klopping!”
Like most traditional family businesses in Montagu, the Boere Bistro stocks a range of homemade jams, preserves, arts and crafts. It really offers a unique experience in the valley.
You can read more about a Montagu escape here:
Do it like the Americans
If you appreciate the nostalgia and old-school glamour of a real road trip, you'd love this...
American Dream Cars is an exciting new attraction on Route 62, offered by the retro Montagu Country Hotel. Road trippers are able to book a spin in one of three different chauffeur-driven vintage cars, and meander through the landscapes, wineries, valleys and other tourist attractions in and around Montagu.
SEE PICS: Is this the coolest way to take a Route 62 road trip?
We suggest you book a road trip to Barrydale, where you can eat like an American too. Quirky dive Diesel & Crème offers perhaps the most decadent milkshakes in SA, along with seriously stacked burgers.
See SA's first straw bale cellar in Robertson
At the foot of the prominent Langeberg Mountains, in an untouched, natural vicinity, lies the hidden gem, Buitenstekloof. The farm is one of Robertson's prized locations, located on Route62 and deemed the perfect location to unwind, to celebrate friendships and other relationships, to regain a sense of peace and harmony and to enjoy nature’s offerings.
Buitenstekloof is home to the very first straw bale cellar in South Africa and also, the highest straw bale structure in SA. It is a staggering, nine metres high!
It is the primary attribute to Buitenstekloof that attracts visitors to the farm. The straw bale cellar has been distinctly designed to create an ideal winemaking climate and to reduce the farm’s carbon footprint and of of course… the electricity bill!
The cellar is environmentally friendly (like the rest of the farm) and is heavily contrasted with conventional building material such as bricks and cement. The thermal capacity of straw bales is what’s reducing the electricity usage. Ultimately, the aesthetic and look of the straw bales gives it an overall vintage feel.
Read more about the unique experiences at Buitenstekloof here:
Go to Hell
It is as hostile as the name suggest... Die Hel in the Gamkakloof Valley is an actual place, first inhabited by farmers in 1830. It was accessible only by foot until 1963 when a road was built winding from the Swartberg Pass down into this remote valley.
Before the road, a ‘donkey trail’ over the Swartberg Mountain from Calitzdorp to Die Hel was the only commercial life line with the outside world. This historic ‘donkey trail’ start at Hans and Erika Calitz family farm ‘Living Waters near Calitzdorp.
Nowadays, the Donkey Trail is a three night, two-day hike over the Swartberg Mountains to Die Hel where hikers' supplies and equipment are to be carried by donkey - like in the olden days. The trail package will include comfortable accommodation at Living Waters, Wyenek Camp and Die Hel. Get more info here.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- PICS: Is this the coolest way to take a Route 62 road trip?