Four Tantalising Tourist Towns on the N7by Gerriline Fouché on 28 June 2018
When you think about Cape Town and Namibia, two things come to mind. On the one hand you think of a metropolis filled with Cape Dutch homesteads, the smell of Cape Malay curry in the air, dancers with painted faces around each corner and lush green vineyards. On the other hand you think of long stretches of desert sands, brilliant German architecture and lots of charm. These two locations truly hold their own as tourist attractions, but between them lies the N7 ─ a 1 600 kilometer tar road with hidden highways and byways to the east and west, filled with little gems, each with their own charm and character. TravelGround is your guide on the Cape-Namibia Route this winter, showing you four exciting towns to explore along the N7.
A two-hour drive northbound on the N7 brings you to a quaint little town at the foot of the Piketberg Mountains. This typical Swartberg town is surrounded by magnificent rock formations and visitors are often surprised by its extraordinary beauty. The wide open spaces and fynbos fields may look a bit quiet at first glance, but Piketberg has more than enough for both adventurers and serenity seekers to enjoy.
FruitLips Jam Factory
Amongst the breathtaking mountains of the Piket-Bo-Berg lies the third generation family-owned farm, Achtervlei. The Eigelaar family has spent their lives as fruit farmers to build a fruit empire that has created jobs for more than 26 families. FruitLips offers a wide range of fruit products, from jams and marmalades to fruit syrup, chutneys and sauces. Their artisan products are mostly made of the fruit that are not exported and the company strives for sustainability by recycling water and turning the peels, pips and off-cuts of the used fruit into biological fertiliser. So, if you consider yourself a refined foodie with a taste for fruity flavours, pop in at FruitLips Jam Factory! You’ll thank us later.
Jakkalskloof 4×4 Trails
The Jakkalskloof 4×4 Trails are situated in a mountainous area about 10 kilometers from the little inland village, Redelinghuys. Redelinghuys is best known as the potato capital of the Sandveld and lies between Piketberg and Verlorenvlei en route to Elands Bay. This 4×4 trail offers two individual trails, the Sand Route and the Mountain Route, both challenging the technical ability of the driver in different ways. Completing these circular trails can take anything from two to six hours, depending on your speed and expertise. The Jakkalskloof 4×4 Trails are open all year round, so what are you waiting for? Book a guided 4×4 drive now and take a break from your Cape-Namibia adventure to test your 4×4 abilities.
Org de Rac Organic Wines
A Piketberg visit is never complete without tasting the wine riches of the Swartland. Org de Rac organic wine estate’s breathtaking vineyards sits on a hillside on the left of the N7, just as you cross the Berg River on your way to Piketberg. Here you will find fine wine, good, clean country air and a heartfelt welcome. Their unique methods revolve around respecting the soil and conserving the ideals of organic farming. Org de Rac offers four individual ranges, Die Waghuis, the Reserve, the Org de Rac and the Le Piquet, each one achieving many annual accolades. Their speciality products consist of an organic Cape Ruby, The Old Pumphouse Cape Ruby, and a spirit made and distilled from merlot skins, the Il Genio. Org de Rac offers wine and grappa tastings, as well as picnics. The tastings range from R20 to R35 per person and a Cheese Platter for 2 is available at R350. A Kiddies’ Platter is also available at R60 per person. Org de Rac invites you to make a left turn off the N7 and to embrace the free spirit of the Swartland wine culture.
A journey to the Namibian border can be a tiring quest for those who choose to experience the magnificent charm of the gems along the N7. Don’t let the long road turn your trip into a one-day haste. TravelGround offers accommodation that caters to every need in and around Piketberg. Afterall, after a long day of jam eating, 4×4 trails and wine tasting, a place to lay down your head will be bliss.
Lambert’s Bay is a picturesque coastal town on the West Coast. A left turn off the N7 onto the R364 just past the Clanwilliam Dam and a quick 60 kilometer drive will bring you to this self proclaimed “diamond of the west coast”. The area is especially well known for its white beaches, crayfish and wildlife. Lambert’s Bay is primarily a fishing town and has a large harbour with breathtaking views of little fisherman boats scattered across the deep blue bay. Turn off your engine, stretch your legs and come eat, drink and be merry in this little West Coast village before you continue on your Cape-Namibia tour. After all, the border isn’t going anywhere!
If you want a seafood experience of a lifetime, a visit to Muisbosskerm should be on your bucket list. Steaming crayfish, freshly baked, smoked and grilled fish, traditional waterblommetjie stew and homemade bread hot from the clay-oven with homemade butter and hanepoot jam is what awaits every guest that sets foot in this coastal paradise. Muisbosskerm offers lunch and dinner all year round and breakfast is available on request for groups of more than 20 people. Come and enjoy a once in a lifetime seafood feast with traditional “boeremusiek” in the background. Don’t bother with a wrapped up sandwich, a boiled egg and a coffee flask, let Muisbosskerm quiet the bear in your belly.
West Coast Wildflowers
Every year, between July and October, the winter rains cover the pale plains and mountains of the West Coast with a blanket of wildflowers, stretching through Lambert’s Bay and its surrounding regions, and this year is no different. Despite the lingering drought in the Western Cape, these magnificent wildflowers have prevailed and is right on time for your winter N7 tour. This breathtaking kaleidoscope of colour consists of over 300 wildflower species and the recent good rains ensure that they will last well into October. These flowers stretch from the Biedouw Valley and the Ramskop Nature Reserve near Clanwilliam, deep into the heart of the Namaqualand. So, rest assured, your Lambert’s Bay detour won’t be the only wildflower canvas you stumble across on your N7 adventure.
Now that you’ve taken in the spectacular scenery of the West Coast and feasted on the crayfish cuisine that Lambert’s Bay has to offer, you’ll need a place to charge your batteries before you continue on to the next leg of your journey. TravelGround offers an array of diverse accommodations catering to all tastes and needs, so book now to avoid disappointment.
Nestled in the northern Olifants River Valley and bordering on the Namaqualand region, you’ll find the quaint little farming community of Vredendal. Starting out as a peace settlement, Vredendal has grown to a hub of the Matzikama region and is known for its diverse landmarks, showcasing a crossbreed between sandy plains, rocky mountains, wildflowers and lush green vineyards. This little town has lots to offer and offers a perfect overnight spot or weekend break from your N7 adventure.
Namaqua is one of largest and most beloved wineries in South Africa. Starting out as a small winery on the outskirts of Vredendal in 1947, this winery has grown to be a true competitor in the international wine industry. The fertile soil, hot climate and cool Atlantic winds from the coast make for perfect wine making conditions. Namaqua has three ranges. The Everyday Collection is aimed at larger markets and strives for freshness, balance and great drinkability at an affordable price. The Cultivar Collection aims to be a food-friendly range of wines of single grape cultivars, each with its own personality and style. The Heritage Collection offers wines that are crafted for specialised pallets. This collection consists of the Cape West Limited Release, the Spencer Bay Reserve, the Cellar Door, the Méthode Cap Classique Guinevere and the Noble Late Harvest. This winery truly serves each and every taste! You can enjoy the many cultivars of Namaqua at Die Keldery Restaurant. They offer wine pairings with chocolate and biltong at R50 per person, and there is a grape juice tasting option for the young ones at R35 per person.
Bergkraal 4×4 Route
The Bergkraal 4×4 Route offers 54 kilometers of rocky roads on the Bergkraal Farm halfway between Klawer and Vredendal. This circular route is especially popular during the wildflower season and offers a rock art site with braai facilities and wood. There are also a number of picnic spots for the whole family to enjoy. This route is strictly self-drive for parties of less than four vehicles. However, the owner, Frikkie, will accompany larger parties. This route offers plenty challenges and obstacles, as well as a drag strip where vehicles can race together. There are both mountain and sand routes to choose from and many caves to explore. If you are looking for a real 4×4 challenge on your way to the border, a detour to Bergkraal is definitely in the cards for you!
South Africa’s Northern Cape can seem like quite a dull area if you don’t have your facts straight. Even though the towns in this province are few and far in between, there are a number of little gems on the N7 to explore, Springbok being the largest one. Springbok is known as the Gateway to Namibia, situated only 120 kilometers from its southern border. The town’s existence is mostly owed to the copper-mining industry and is surrounded by the breathtaking granite domes of the Klein Koper Mountains. Today the town generates most of its income from tourism, offering a variety of activities, including fly fishing, mountain biking and hiking. There are also restaurants to choose from and the annual wildflower spectacle is a must-see!
Goegap Nature Reserve Mountain Biking Trails
The Goegap Nature Reserve is located about 15 kilometers east of Springbok. This reserve offers intermediate mountain biking trails with some rocky sections. This beautiful reserve resembles a desert with giant aloes and halfmens trees spread across the terrain. The terrain can be quite harsh for those who do not frequent the Northern Cape with their bicycles. The patches of sand, constant climbs and steep ascent to get to the top of Carolusberg will test even experienced mountain bikers. This trail is truly for the adventurers amongst the travellers!
Silver Sands Trail
The Namaqua National Park is located along the coast in Hondeklipbaai near Springbok. This park offers a daunting five day hike on the Silver Sands Trail. This trail is mostly popular between August and October when the wildflowers are in bloom. The breathtaking flowers spread over this seemingly dry piece of land makes for an unforgettable experience. Hikers can expect whale sightings, rock pools rich with marine life and over 150 bird species. Given the extremely hot summers of the Northern Cape, this trail is best for a mid-winter hike, so dust off those boots and get a steppin’!
The long stretches on the N7 between towns can get the best of even the most frequent traveller. Don’t let the long and winding road test your stamina. TravelGround has more than enough accommodation in and around Springbok, catering to every want and need.
So now that you know more about four tantalising tourist towns on the N7, you have no reason not to explore the riches of the Cape-Namibia Route. Pack your bags, fill up your tank, and book your winter road trip now!
Featured Image: Jillian Leiboff (Instagram)