North from Worcester in South Africa
The R43 follows the Breede River Valley to Wolseley and the major fruit-producing regions. Most of the farms can be visited on a day visit from Worcester, but there is a greater variety of choice in places to stay on the farms around Tulbagh and Ceres. The road follows the Breede River flows as it flows through the vineyards towards its source.Wolseley
This small town is in a unique position on the watershed of two rivers, one flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, the other into the Indian Ocean. Given the beauty of the surrounding countryside and the variety of tourist sights in Tulbagh and Worcester, there is no reason to spend much time here aside from a lunchtime meal. The few interesting old buildings that had survived through time were destroyed in the same earthquake that caused much of the damage in Tulbagh in 1969.Tulbagh
Tucked away in the Tulbagh Valley, surrounded by the Winterhoekberg, Witsenberg and
Saronsberg Mountains, is this small village with a beautifully preserved centre of traditionalCape buildings. Along with Swellendam in the Overberg, it rates as one of the best examples of a rural Victorian settlement in South Africa. Like Swellendam, however, the
state of the buildings is somewhat artificial because much of the settlement was destroyedby a sudden earthquake on 29 September 1969. This was a significant local tragedy: nine people died and considerable damage was done to property. However, the earthquake gave rise to the largest restoration project in South Africa's history. Many of the old buildings had been in a bad state of repair and some were practically derelict, but the village underwent massive restoration and became the fine settlement you see today.
The original name of the valley was Land van Waveren, an outpost of the Dutch East India Company dating from 1699. In the early days of Dutch rule the western hinterland, stretching as far north as present-day Piketberg and Porterville, was known as Waveren. The first settlers arrived in the valley on 31 July 1700 but it was another 40 years before permanent structures appeared and a village took shape. As with many settlements in the Cape, Tulbagh is named after a former Governor of the Cape, Ryk Tulbagh (1751-1771). Today Tulbagh is a prosperous and peaceful settlement, isolated from Cape Town by several intervening mountain ranges. North of the town, the upper valley of the Little Berg River is a centre for some small wine estates and fruit farms. Sheep and wheat farming are also important to the local economy.
TheSights in Tulbagh
, www.tulbaghtourism.org.za,is enthusiastic and friendly, with some interesting and useful leaflets covering the area. There is an attached restaurant and
coffee shop with outdoor seating overlooking beautiful Church Street. The office is in one ofthe houses which is part of the museum;
tickets for all the museum buildings are sold here.
The main attraction is the delightful tree-lined
; 32 of its original buildings were restored after the earthquake, and the whole street feels like a living museum. The majority of the buildings are in private ownership, but three are part of the town museum and a couple have been converted into B&Bs. The old slave lodge is now the
, over- looking lush lawns. In complete contrast, the main commercial centre, Van der Stel Street, is a straight line of dull modern buildings saved by a colourful municipal garden.
If your time is short, the one place to visit in Tulbagh is theSights outside Tulbagh
Oude Kerk Volksmuseum, which has one of the most interesting collections of Victorian furniture and objects in the Cape. The high ceiling and good light of the church makes it an ideal display case and it's a popular venue for weddings. There is also interesting information about the 1969 earthquake.
Old Drostdy Museum
Drostdy Wine Cellar
, where local wines and sherries are made. The Old Drostdy building appears on their wine labels.
For a small extra fee, their fortified wines can be tasted in the atmospheric, candle-lit cellars.
This area is in fact better known for its fruit production - Ceres, the centre of the fruit industry, is only 35 km away. For more information about the vineyards in this region visitCeres
Rijk's Private Cellar
. Thisis a young farm and vines were only planted in 1997, but it now produces an acclaimed variety of reds, and is the location of the excellent and luxurious
Rijk's Country House. North of Tulbagh is
Theuniskraal Estate, www.theuniskraal.co.za, which has been in the hands of the Jordaan family since 1927. Their white wines have won several awards. Their Riesling, with John Platter's seal of approval, is highly acclaimed.
Twee Jonge Gezellen, www.houseofkrone.co.za, has the only underground Méthode Cap Classique (South Africa's version of champagne) cellar in South Africa and there's a restaurant open during peak season. To get there take a left turn at the north end of Church Street. The tourist office can provide all the details of other estates in the valley.
Anyone travelling for some time in South Africa will undoubtedly try one of two brands of fruit juice - Liquifruit or Ceres, both of which are packed in Ceres. This is the most important fruit-growing centre in the country, and all types of soft fruits are grown and processed in the valley. Surrounded by the harsh and rugged Skurweberg Mountains, this attractive farming centre was founded in 1854 and aptly named after the Roman goddess of agriculture. During the winter months there can be heavy snowfalls in the mountains, enough at times for some limited winter sports. Snow is such a novelty in South Africa that when there is snow on the ground, curious Capetonians visit here in droves: cars line the country roads and the local farmers' fields are trampled by thousands of people. When the snows melt, the Dwars, Koekedouw and Titus rivers become the perfect environment for trout fishing. For information visit
, www.ceres.org.za,in the town library.
One of the town's first magistrates, JA Munnik, was responsible for planting numerous trees around the town to provide shade. Fortunately, this tradition has been maintained and, as a result, there are plenty of mature trees lining the roads and the banks of the Dwars River, which flows through the town centre and the gardens of the
Transport Riders' Museum
housesa fine collection of horse-drawn vehicles. All types of wagons and carriages are on show, celebrating the town's past importance as a centre for making these vehicles. Before the railways arrived, the fruit produced here had to be transported to the Cape in such wagons. Some excellent photographs capture the spirit of the time.
The following fruit packhouses and factories allow visitors to look around on tours - a sort of 'fruit route', if you like. It is surprisingly interesting to see how life starts for a peach or a potato that is going to end up on a local or even international supermarket shelf. Note that most of the factories insist on visitors wearing closed shoes and long trousers for hygiene purposes.
Ceres Fruit Growers(
CFG) is worth visiting to see its vast cold- storage facilities. This is one of the larger cooperatives specializing in deciduous fruits.
Ceres Fruit Juices(
CFJ) is home to the award-winning juices found on supermarket shelves around South Africa.
Ceres Potatoesis a similar operation but with a crop of
onions and potatoes. Tours run twice a day Monday to Friday at 1000 and 1400 dependingon demand but they must be booked in advance through
Ceres Tourism. During the fruit season, December to March, they can also organize tours to working fruit farms or drying yards in the Ceres region.
This small village is the second most important farming centre in the Warm Bokkeveld Valley. It was named after the second son of Queen Victoria, who was the first member of the British royal family to visit South Africa. In 1865 he went on a hunting expedition in this region. North from here the road skirts along the western fringes of the arid Karoo for over 100 km, without passing through any settlements of note. The farmlands in this area are very productive, so much so that a rail link was specially built from Ceres to transport fruits and vegetables. Apples, peaches, plums, nectarines and pears are grown in the valley, and the short drive north from Ceres (R303) is particularly enjoyable during the spring when the orchards are in full blossom.
Popular activities include fruit tours and trout fishing. Continuing north towards the Cederberg Mountains and Citrusdal, the road leaves the valley throughKagga Kamma Private Game Reserve
Gydo Pass, R303. This is yet another pass built by Andrew Bain,
this time while he was also working on the more important Michell's Pass. It was completedin 1848, and remained as a gravel road until the 1950s. The settlement is also the junction to the
Swartberg Passor R328 to 'The Hell', Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves. This is a good place to stop for a cool drink before climbing the scenic mountain pass. For local tourist information you're best off contacting the Ceres office, as Prince Alfred falls under their control.
Kagga Kamma Private Game Reserve is 90 minutes' drive from Ceres, on the fringe of the Cederberg Mountains. It is a nature reserve devoted to the history of the San people who lived here, the remarkable rocky landscape dotted with their ancient rock art. The reserve did have a resident San village within its boundaries, but the villagers have moved back to their ancestral lands in the Kalahari. They drop in periodically to sell traditional wares. The area is one of outstanding natural beauty and the best way of exploring it is on foot. Resident anthropologists accompany visitors to rock art sites to explain their meaning, and are also very knowledgeable about the traditions, lifestyle and beliefs of the San.
It is possible to go on game drives and quad-bike safaris in the reserve, which has a good variety of antelope including eland, gemsbok, bontebok, springbok and kudu. There are also lynx, caracal and leopard, but these are very elusive. If you're in a hurry and have money to burn, you can fly the 260 km from Cape Town in just 40 minutes. Access to the reserve is by overnight stay at the lodge, or day trips can be arranged, including a rock art tour, lunch and a quad-bike safari.Inverdoorn Game Reserve
Inverdoorn Game Reserve is 55 km from Ceres. Follow the R46 for Touws River and the N1. Take the R355 turning for Calvinia and almost immediately after join the R356 for Sutherland. The entrance is on the left. This is a private 3500-ha game reserve specializing in 4WD game safaris to view its range of wildlife, which includes rhino, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, eland, kudu and impala. A pair of lions and seven cheetahs were introduced a few years ago. The area is a typical Karoo landscape and quite beautiful to drive around. Other activities on offer include hikes to San rock art, birdwatching, fishing and mountain biking. The day visit starts at 1000 and includes a two-three hour safari and lunch. Alternatively, the overnight stays at the lodge also include one or two game drives.