Let’s start the day
It was an early start in the morning. We were up at 6am and by 7am our camp site was packed up, the car just about ready, Olivia fed. At 7.15 everyone was lined up ready to go, I just needed to load some firewood that we had left over from last night into the back of the bakkie.
And then for some strange reason, the braai bak with our leftover meat from the braai slid off the dashboard and fell onto the seats. There was meat juice all over the interior. On the leather seats, on the dashboard, on the gear lever, the handbrake…everywhere. F*#&!
It took us a good 15 minutes extra to try and mop up the spillage. And the whole car smelled of braai meat (not the worst smell, to be honest). It was a humbling situation, as we were the ones constantly going on about leaving on time so that we can try arrive at our next destination earlier, etc. Nevertheless, we were on the road again and starting off the first leg of today’s trip to get out Die Hel.
Rain in Hel
Normally, Die Hel is quite dry at this time of year (over New Year’s) but there was no blue sky to be seen. As the only non-4x4ers, we were a bit concerned about having to try get up the steep ascent out of Die Hel if the rain should start falling heavier.
Luckily for us, it remained only a drizzle, and our 2×4 Ford Ranger got up the hill with no issues. The views from that pass looking back over the valley are stunning. Worth the long trek up and down that rough road.
The beautiful Swartberg
We took a left when we reached Swartberg Pass and headed in the direction of Prince Albert. This is also one of my favourite stretches of the trip, as you are completely dwarfed by the unique folding shaped mountains as you drive through at their base.
Where are you going?
The next stretch was going to be on tar road, and we were heading towards Uniondale, where we would then get on the next dirt road and head down into Knysna. Prince Alfred’s Pass on the R339 between Uniondale and Knysna is the longest (publicly accessible) mountain pass in South Africa: 68.5km.
The rain had made this stretch of road very muddy. It was Linda’s turn to drive as well, and she did really well keeping all 4 wheels on the road. At one point, I must have dozed off in the passenger seat, and as I opened my eyes Linda was just managing to avoid sliding into the bushes on my side of the road. Of course I got a big fright, pushed on the dashboard and exclaimed: “Where are you going?!”.
We both found the situation quite funny… afterwards.
We arrived in Knysna at around 18h30, so we decided to have a cheat meal and ordered some Steers burgers for dinner because we knew we were only getting to our campsite at Charlesford Farm after 19h00.
The campsite was really great. We only needed one stand for all 5 vehicles. Unfortunately, we only had the one night here, and Linda and I would definitely like to come back again. Lots of shade and soft ground for tents. There is also a river and dam nearby that has canoes and rubber tubes to relax on.
Charlesford Farm is a dairy farm and also has a piggery (which we didn’t get to visit this time around).
And so ends day 3 of our trip. We have covered around 900km on the trip so far, with around 80% of that being gravel road, I reckon. Day 4 will take us from Knysna to Van Wyksdorp, around 200km with some really beautiful passes to navigate.