Route 62 - Montagu
Kingna River flowing through Cogman's Kloof
Route 62 is the tourist route between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn.
It is a winding road that meanders through the mountains of the Cape into the Little Karoo and links many small farming towns together which would otherwise be isolated.
The Little Karoo is a semi dry area adjacent to the Garden Route and is situated in between the Swartberg Mountains in the north and the Langeberg and the Outeniqua mountains in the south.
The plain that has been formed in the valley is criss crossed with ravines and rivers which are choked with vegetation and wildlife.
The valley is 250 kilometres long from east to west and is 60 kilometres wide.
Cape Dutch House in Montagu
This area was once home to to the Khoisan people who were hunter gatherers and evidence of them living there can be found in the many caves that exist in the foothills of the Swartberg.
Wherever the Khoisan lived the rocks are covered with their paintings.
At the western entrance to the Little Karoo is the town of Montagu.
It is a farming village and its main claim to fame is its hot springs where the water is 35 degrees centigrade when it comes out of the ground.
The village is named after John Montagu who was the Colonial Secretary of the Cape at the time it was established in 1851.
Montagu is a very interesting town to visit as most of the houses in the older part date back to the early period of the town.
Long Street which is part of Route 62 is the most important and oldest street in the town.
Along its length there are no fewer than 14 houses which have been declared national monuments.
Rock formations in Cogman's Kloof
Approaching Montagu from the south one has to drive through Ashton and then through the Cogmans Kloof to reach Montagu.
The rock formations in this valley are awesome and one sees some of the strangest formations you are likely to see anywhere in South Africa.
It appears that during their formation these mountains were squeezed from both sides so that the rocks look like waves.
Where erosion has taken place there are ridges of rock dropping vertically from the top of the mountain to the river bed below.
The Kingna river runs through the town just behind all the old houses lining Long Street and it was this river that flooded its banks a number of years ago causing much damage in the valley and destroying a number of bridges in the Cogman's Kloof.
The next town along the route from Montagu to Oudtshoorn is Barrydale.
This little town was named after the trader Barry who was one on the entrepreneurs in the Little Karoo back in 1880's.
Every town that was established in the area Barry moved into and opened a trading store.
Barrydale is built at the base of the Tradouw pass and like Montagu is a farming community where fruit is grown and brandy is made.
The scenic Tradouw pass leading to Swellendam was once a very rough mountain path used by the Attaqua tribe who lived in the area.
East of the town are hot water springs which stretch for 37 kilometres along the base of the Hot water mountains.
Ronnies Sex Shop
Between Barrydale and Ladismith is a small cottage in the middle of nowhere that has become an important landmark in the area.
Ronnie who was fixing up the building and planning to open a farmstall in it painted the name Ronnies Shop in red on the outside wall where it could be seen by the passing traffic.
His friends who visited him often for a beer and a braai decided to have a joke with him and changed the name to Ronnies Sex shop.
This change immediately had an effect and soon he had many many passersby stopping to see what he was selling.
After some suggestions from his friends Ronnie eventually opened a pub and has never looked back.
A visit to this pub is a must as it contains graffitti from thousands of people on its walls and makes some interesting reading.
The closest thing to sex offered in this out of the way pub is a ladies bra which hangs on a rail along with a thousand caps which have become part of a permanent collection that form the decor of the pub.
Following Route 62 eastwards the next town is Ladismith which was named after Lady Smith wife of the then Governor of the Cape.
The town was established in 1851 and had its name changed from Ladysmith to Ladismith in 1879 to prevent people confusing Ladysmith in Natal with Ladismith in the Cape.
Nearby in the Hoeko valley amongst the orchards one can find the house where C J Langenhoven one of South Africa's most famous authors was born.
A short distance further along the Hoeko valley road are the Mission Stations of Zoar and Amalienstein where there is a beautiful old church dating back to 1853.
One of the most scenic mountain passes is found nearby.
The Seven Weeks Poort pass winds its way through impressive rock formations along a river bed for 22 kilometres before it enters the Great Karoo.
The mountain through which the pass runs is 2326 metres high and soars above the roadway .
Locals swear that the pass is haunted as a spectre of a toll keeper can be seen stopping traffic at night with his lantern.
After leaving Ladismith we drive on to Calitzdorp which is another farming community where aprricots are grown.
The locals say that towards the end of the apricot season even the cows refuse to eat the fruit.
Dutch Reformed Church in Calitzdorp
In the middle of the town is a lovely old Dutch Reformed church painted sienna red .
It can be seen from miles away as you approach the town.
Calitzdorp just like Montagu is filled with old houses dating back to the early 1900's.
Like most of the other towns along this route it also has a warm water spa which is situated 22 kilometres out of town.
Oudtshoorn the next town on the route is renowned for two things.
The first being the Cango Caves and the second its ostriches.
But for the ostriches and the feather boom in the early part of the 19th century this town would never have arrived.
Today however it is the business centre of the Little Karoo and an important stop on Route 62 .
Next time you visit Cape Town be sure to take a tour along Route 62 and see some of the beautiful changing scenery in this magnificent valley.
Email : Geoff Fairman
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Cape Town - Route 62
Page updated 15.6.2015