March 1, 2012; Cape Town to Cape Agulhas to Swellendam
Today we left Simon’s Town in our rental car, headed back to Cape Town. After dropping off our car, we picked up the BMW F650s at Karoo Biking at the BMW pavilion on the waterfront. We will be on the bikes for the next 5 days, and have only the room in our BMW hard bags for our luggage. That means we had to leave two rolling duffel bags and one roll aboard bag with the bike rental office. The hard bags hold less than you might think, and I had to really restrict the amount of luggage. One side bag has just enough room for my camera bag and computer and the other holds just one backpack.
We left Cape Town on the N2, three lanes wide, and well-marked. From the N2 we turned off on the R44 southbound. This next stretch turned out to be the best biking road of the day. It is small and winding and follows the coastline, and is also known as the Whale Coast Route. During the winter months here in the southern hemisphere, the southern right whale, humpback whales, and sperm whales can be seen from the shore here. The view is spectacular and the road is fun to drive. It took us two hours to get from Cape Town to Hermanus, where we stopped for lunch.
Back on the bikes, our new destination is Cape Agulhas, the southern most point in Africa. We took the R326 and R316 from Hermanus, through Napier and on to Bredasdrop. Napier looked very Dutch and all the signs were in Afrikaans. After leaving the coastline, the country became mostly agricultural with many sheep and dairy farms, mostly wheat and a few vineyards. It reminded both myself and my sister of the Eastern Oregon countryside.
From Bredasdrop it is a straight shot south to the coast. It took us 1:45 to drive from Hermanus to Cape Agulhus. The roads were in very good shape, the directional signs more than adequate. We were never in question of where we were, or which way to turn. There were many road crews out and there is virtually no litter. We also passed may veterinary clinics and saw very well cared for dogs on leashes and with their owners. So far we have not seen one stray dog.
The driving was easy. The only drawback of being on the bikes today was the very strong wind. For at least one hour, or more, we really battled a strong crosswind. We are on small, lightweight bikes, and it was a struggle at times. No matter the “helmet hair”, at Cape Agulhas no one would have great hair as the winds were blowing a gale. The monument at Cape Agulhas marks where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet. It is the southern most point on the continent. It is rocky, wild, windy and beautiful.
At Cape Agulhas we took our photos, walked the boardwalk, picked up a few rocks, then headed north again. We wanted to make our overnight stop before dark. We left the Cape at 3:45 and pulled into the Klippe Rivier country house in Swellendam about two hours later, and before dark, which was our goal. We are greeted by not one, but two resident cats.
The Klippe Rivier Country House was built in 1820 and was the family house of past-Presidents Steyn and Reitz. It is gorgeous, with a thatched roof and beam ceilings. We are staying in the portion that used to be the stables. The room is large and beautiful and we are happy to be off the bikes. We spent 8 hours traveling today and made good time and distance. Too tired for a sit down dinner, we drove to a near-by market and bought a bottle of wine for R35 (Boland Cellar, Trots suid-Afrikaans sedert 1947, Sixy-40, Chenin Blanc Sauvignon blanc 2011, $5) and some pasta salad, bread and cheese. A perfect way to end the day, picnicking on our beautiful verandah.