We left Cape Town on 18 December and began our journey of 1600 km back to Durban via the coastal road and passing through the famous Garden Route.
When travelling between Sir Lowry’s Pass and Houw Hoek Pass, look out for the Houw Hoek Inn which is the oldest country inn in South Africa. Parts date back to 1779. In those days the trip from Cape Town to the Overberg region took four days by ox wagon.
The original or ‘Old Houw Hoek’ Pass was built by Andrew Geddes Bain in 1847. The old pass can still be travelled if you have a 4×4 with good ground clearance. It is very picturesque and follows the course of the Jakkals River.
Our first stop would be the historic town of Swellendam. We decided that this would be a good spot for lunch. This town in 220 kms from Cape Town.
The area near Swellendam produces wheat, canola and oats. Farmers also farm with livestock such as sheep and cattle.
Swellendam has a population of approximately 18 000. It is the fourth oldest town in South Africa. It was declared a magisterial district in 1743 and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his wife Helena Ten Damme.
We had lunch under the grape vines at the Old Mill Restaurant.
This butchery with its bright blue colours caught my eye.
Known as ‘die Moederkerk’ or the Mother Church, this magnificent Dutch Reformed Church started being built in November 1910
After a pleasant lunch and some time spent exploring Swellendam we continued on our way. We passed beautiful fertile valleys with the Langeberg Mountains forming a backdrop in the distance.
In 1488 Bartolomeu Diaz became the first European seafarer to stop at Mossel Bay. Seafarers stopped at Mossel Bay for fresh water and to leave letters in an old Milkwood tree. These were usually left in a shoe that dangled from the tree. Try to visit the Bartolomeu Diaz Maritime Museum to see a life size model of the caravel that brought Diaz to this part of the world.
The shores of this bay were covered with mussels and oysters, hence the name Mossel Bay.
There are some lovely restaurants in Mossel Bay. We enjoyed seafood at Cafe Gannet, near the harbour. See Tripadvisor for more options.
The next day we left Mossel Bay to continue on our journey through the Garden Route. Mossel Bay is at the beginning of the Garden Route. It is also exactly 400 kms from both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. This makes it a good halfway stopover for tourists travelling to the Eastern Cape.