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Mountain Passes and Circles in a Forest

  • 13 Mountain Passes of the Western Cape
  • Movie Screening at the Showroom in Prince Albert
  • Unimog Tour of the Swartberg Pass
  • Tour of Matjiesfontein
  • Port-tasting in Calitzdorp
  • Dalene Matthee’s Grave
  • Big Tree near Diepwalle
  • Harold Porter Botanical Garden

Overview

Join Live the Journey from 01 to 07 November 2020 on a guided group tour that covers the hidden gems of the Western Cape. On this small group tour we visit and experience places that are not included in the standard run-of-the-mill group tours. 

Over seven days we will drive 13 of the most spectacular mountain passes of the province.  We will visit the Knysna Forest and learn more about the old woodcutters on which the books of Dalene Matthee were based. 

Our guide for the days in Knysna is still working in the timber industry and her father was one of the last old woodcutters that assisted Dalene Matthee with her research for some of her novels.  Do not miss out on this tour during which we will zig-zag the spectacular mountain passes of the southern Cape and relive the Knysna Forest novels of Dalene Matthee.

For some insight into the history of the Knysna woodcutters and our our guide in Knysna, Dalena Wolmarans, please click on the link below.

The Woodcutter's Daughter and the African Violin

Itinerary

DAY 1: SUNDAY, 1 NOVEMBER 2020

Depart from Cape Town and follow the N1 towards Paarl.
By-passing Paarl we take the Old du Toits Kloof Pass to Worcester from where we head straight to De Doorns and the Hex River Pass. The pass navigates through the grape-farming town of De Doorns after which we hit the open Karoo plains.

We will make a brief stop in Matjiesfontein to stretch our legs and enjoy a short tour of the town where the famous Lord Milner Hotel was built in 1899, during the early stages of The South African War (Anglo Boer War). After coffee and refreshments, we continue our journey along the N1.

We drive through Laingsburg to arrive late afternoon in the beautiful town of Prince Albert.

Check-in at the hotel.

18:00 We visit the Showroom to enjoy the movie Fiela se Kind. This will put us in the right frame of mind for the upcoming visit in Knysna.

Dinner at the hotel.

O/N Prince Albert Hotel or similar (dinner)
Estimated driving distance for the day: 400 km

DAY 2: MONDAY, 2 NOVEMBER 2020

08:00 Depart for a scenic trip up the breathtaking Swartberg pass. Experience the spectacular panoramic views of the mountain range and enjoy a scrumptious champagne breakfast!

11:00 Arrive back at the hotel. Check-out and depart for Wilderness in the Garden Route.

The route will include a drive through Meiringspoort with its 63 bends, corners and curves. Driving through De Rust we head for the Outeniqua Pass for the descend from the Karoo to the coast. The original 14,5 km pass was opened in 1951.

Arriving in George we only have one more pass to negotiate on our way to our overnight stop in Wilderness. Kaaimans River Pass was built in 1951 to replace the Seven Passes Road that connected George and Knysna. In 2006 floods damaged the road so severely that it was almost closed permanently.

Arrive at your accommodation and check-in.
Dinner at the hotel.
O/N Wilderness Hotel or similar (breakfast and dinner)
Estimated driving distance for the day: 181 km

DAY 3: TUESDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 2020

Breakfast at the hotel.
A local specialist tour guide and also the only woman who is currently working in the timber industry in the Garden Route will be our guide for the following 2 days – Dalena Wolmarans.

Depart from the hotel and drive a section of the Seven Passes road. The road was designed by the legendary engineer Thomas Bain. Depart for Hoekwil and then drive towards Knysna with beautiful views of the Vleie. You will drive Hoogekraal, Karatara, and Homtini Passes.

Then you will reach the turnoff to Millwood, the abandoned goldfields near Knysna. It is these goldfields that are referred to in Dalene Matthee’s book, Circles in a Forest. The author passed away in 2005 and we will visit her last resting place at Krisjan-se-Nek.

At Rheenendal we will make a short coffee stop.

Depart for Knysna with our last pass for the day being the Phantom Pass. The pass joins the N2 at the bridge that crosses the lagoon as you approach Knysna.

Arrive at your accommodation and check-in.
Dinner at the hotel.

O/N Knysna Hollow or similar (breakfast and dinner)
Estimated driving distance for the day: 100 km

DAY 4: WEDNESDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2020

Breakfast at the hotel.
Meet your guide and depart for her sawmill. She will tell you more about her family history of woodcutters working in the Knysna Forest as described by Dalene Matthee in her books. She will also tell you more about the different types of indigenous trees and the timber industry.

Depart for your visit to the Knysna Forest. Drive through Veldmanspad where a big forest community lived. Learn more about the old Koffiepot train that transported logs from the forest to Knysna. You will visit a beautiful old Kalander yellowwood tree and pass Die Bakhuise where the forest’s own bakery used to be.

You will then reach the Dal van Varings, one of the main sets in the movie Fiela se Kind. Enjoy your picnic lunch.

Proceed from there to Kruisvallei and drive past a beautiful forest of Tyda trees before you reach the semi-rural village of Wittedrif. From Wittedrif you will drive back to Knysna along the N2.

O/N Knysna Hollow or similar (breakfast, picnic lunch and dinner)
Estimated driving distance for the day: 100 km (slow driving – dirt road)

DAY 5: THURSDAY, 5 NOVEMBER 2020

After breakfast we depart and follow the N2 to George. The N2 runs much closer to the coastline in comparison to the Seven Passes road that runs more towards the interior.

From George we drive towards Mossel Bay. Just before Mossel Bay we leave the N2 to join the road to Oudtshoorn via the Robinson Pass. The original Robinson Pass was constructed by Thomas Bain in 1869. Between 1958 and 1963 it was reconstructed to widen the road crossing the Outeniqua Mountains into the Klein Karoo. We join the R62 and start our drive to Montagu.

Time for stretching legs when we stop in Calitzdorp for a port-tasting. Calitzdorp is the “Port Capital” of the world.

After passing through Calitzdorp we will start the ascend of the Huisrivier Pass. The pass is 13,4 km long and has 39 bends, corners and curves. Enjoy the scenery as we make our way towards Montagu.

Arrive at your hotel and check-in.
Dinner will be at the hotel.

O/N Montagu Country Hotel or similar
Estimated driving distance for the day: 400 km (slow driving)

DAY 6: FRIDAY, 6 NOVEMBER 2020

Breakfast and check-out.

Today we back-track towards Barrydale where we will leave Route 62 to drive the Tradouw Pass. It is a 16 km-drive through the beautiful and rugged Langeberg. Our destination is Hermanus, the world’s whale capital. Southern Right whales visit the calm waters of Walker Bay annually to calf. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Hermanus.

Check-in at your hotel and at leisure.
Dinner at the hotel.

O/N Whale Coast Hotel or similar
Estimated driving distance for the day: 250 km

DAY 7: SATURDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2020

Breakfast and check-out.

We depart Hermanus and will follow the coastal road to Cape Town. En route we will make two stops. Our first visit will be a leisurely walk in the Harold Porter Botanical Garden. We will also stop at the Stoney Point penguin colony (the penguin colony is currently closed).

From Betty’s Bay we will follow Clarence Drive to Gordon’s Bay, our last mountain pass of the tour. This must be one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. Sit back and enjoy the drive and reflect back on a wonderful tour full of scenic drives, myths and forest stories.

Arrive late afternoon back in Cape Town.

END OF TOUR

Dates

01 November 2020 – 07 November 2020

Rates

LAND PACKAGE - COST:
Per Person Sharing: ZAR 17 280.00
Single Room Supplement: ZAR 3 300.00

Included

  • Tourist guide for the duration of the tour
  • Transport for 12 guests in an 18-seater bus with driver
  • Specialist guide for the 2 days in Knysna
  • 6 Nights’ accommodation in country guesthouses, hotels and lodges as specified
  • 6 Breakfasts, 2 Picnic lunches, 6 Dinners
  • Movie Screening at the Showroom in Prince Albert
  • Unimog Tour of the Swartberg Pass
  • Tour of Matjiesfontein inclusive of coffee/tea and scones
  • Port-tasting in Calitzdorp
  • Entrance fees for:
  • Dalene Matthee’s Grave,
  • Big Tree near Diepwalle,
  • Harold Porter Botanical Garden
  • Stoney Point penguin colony (currently closed)
  • Bottle of water per day
  • 10% gratuities for meals
  • Hand sanitizer for use on the bus

Excluded

  • Lunches that are not specified
  • Snacks
  • Drinks during all meals
  • Travel insurance
  • Any items of a personal nature such as a telephone bill, curios and laundry
  • Gratuities for driver and guide
  • Porterage

NOTES:

  • This tour requires a minimum of 12 guests to offer it at the quoted price.
  • The tour starts and ends in Cape Town. Guests make their own way to/from these points.
  • Prices for conservation levies, park and entrance fees may be changed without prior notice. This is beyond our control and any increase levied will be for the traveller’s account.
  • Should lockdown regulations change during the proposed tour date, the tour will be postponed to an alternative date.