Exploring the Northern Cape

My husband and I recently returned from an amazing trip to Papkuilsfontien Guest farm located just outside Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape (about four hours drive from Cape Town, possible longer depending on which route you take!). The Nieuwoudtville area is seldom visited by travellers to South Africa, except during the wildflower season from August – September each year when the area comes alive with an astonishing number of wildflowers which attracts visitors from all over.  The area is also well known by hikers for the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve which consists of breath-taking mountain ranges dissected by deep river gorges. Through these gorges flows the Oorlogskloof River which has formed hundreds of natural rock pools…..fantastic for swimming if you can brave the cold water!

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We departed from Cape Town early afternoon and decided to take the route through the Northern Cederberg Mountains (only advisable if you have a high clearance vehicle). The drive was stunning as we made our way past the mountain ranges and up the escarpment towards to the Northern Cape, the landscape becoming drier and more open as we went on. Arriving at Papkuilsfontien Guest farm at sunset, we were greeted by one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. Our hostess pointed us in the direction of our cute little cottage. What a wonderful surprise to find such a beautiful cottage so well equipped with all the comforts of home! There is no electricity, but gas geysers provide hot water and lanterns provide light…providing a very romantic atmosphere. The cottages are all self-catering; however farm-style home cooked meals are available to order & delivered to the cottages by prior arrangement. I can highly recommend this option. I have never before eaten such an incredible home-cooked chicken pie in my life….the food was out of this world!  There is no cell phone reception so we turned off our phone and happily forgot about the world.

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We spent our days on the farm walking and cycling along some of the many trails that lead towards the gorge and the abundant rock pools exploring and trying to identify the hundreds of animals’ tracks along the way. We recognised tracks of porcupine, aardvark, caracal, civet, baboon, and discovered many other tracks of ‘unidentifiable’ creatures – none of these animals we got to see even though there are plenty around!  But we did have two close encounters with large snakes, one of them a cobra and the other a black mamba, which was really exciting and scary at the same time. The evenings we spent relaxing with a drink while soaking up the late afternoon sun, and barbequing (or braai’ing as its better known here) around the outside fire in true South African style. This is truly the place to come to if you want to relax, unwind and see hardly another soul.

Our trip back to Cape Town was very eventful as we decided to try out our Rav4 on the 4×4 trails that lead right over the Cederberg Mountains all the way from the mission station village of Wuppertal to Algeria near Citrusdal. Rocky, bumpy narrow roads with steep drops into the valleys below made this a ‘hairy’ road back, but one cannot call it a proper road trip without attempting to travel on a few ‘off-the-beaten’ track and out of the way roads!  With only a few wrong turns here & there, we made it over the mountains in one piece and I can honestly say this experience was one of the highlights of our trip.

Papkuilsfontien Guest farm in Nieuwoudtville is just one of the many incredible places to visit in the Northern Cape, and we will be back to explore this beautiful and vast province further in the not too distant future. For more information on the exquisite NORTHERN CAPE, please contact Janine@inspired2explore.com.