Langkloof Proteas

The Tsitsikamma and the Langkloof is linked by a short pass over the mountain between Oudebosch and Kareedouw on the eastern side. The pass only has 7 bends, all of them are minor. It does offer sweeping views of the Tsitsikamma mountains to the left (west) with the green valley on the right dotted with dams. The vegetation changes very suddenly as one crosses over the top and you enter the Langkloof. 

After a day in the Tsitsikamma I decided to detour via Kareedouw before heading back to Port Elizabeth and just had to stop on my way down to the town to take some photos of the beautiful proteas flowering right next to the road. The important thing to always remember is that you are not allowed and should never pick the flowers to take home with you.

Looking down the Langkloof from the Potjiesberg Pass

If you drive through the Langkloof from East to West you enter the valley just past Humansdorp and pass towns like Kareedouw, Jobertina, Krakeel, Louterwater, Misgund, Haarlem and Avontuur.  The valley is about 160 km long and the R62 (the road running through the Langkloof) then meets up with the N9 near the town of Uniondale.  Between this intersection and Uniondale travelers will find the Potjiesberg Pass.  The name of the Potjiesberg, directly translated, means little pot and refers to the mountain that resembles a round pepper pot.  It was on this pass that I stopped to look back towards the Langkloof when I took the picture in this post.

Off the off the beaten track in the Langkloof

Most tourists and holiday makers traveling from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape (or vice versa) do so along the world famous Garden Route.  It means that they miss out on the very scenic Route 62 through the Langkloof which runs parallel to the Garden Route on the other side of the mountain.  You could say traveling through the Langkloof is travelling off the beaten track.  On my last trip up the Langkloof I detoured off onto a dirt road in the Bo-Kouga to, yes you guessed it, find a Geocache.  You could say I went off the off the beaten track.  I found the cache as well as this stunning view.

Langkloof protea

The Langkloof may be a “less desirable” tourism destination than the adjacent Garden Route, but it doesn’t mean that its less beautiful.  It may not have the breathtaking coastline or inspiring indigenous forests of the Garden Route, but it doesn’t have to stand back one step when it comes to scenic beauty.  Framed by mountains in the north and south, the predominant vegetation is Fynbos, interspersed by farmland and summer fruit orchards.  A little detour on my last trip up the Langkloof to get a photo from a higher vantage point led me to this…

The beauty of the Langkloof

The Langkloof may not be a developed and marketed tourism route, but it is very scenic and has tons of tourism potential.  Its biggest disadvantage though is that it runs parallel to the world renown and very popular Garden Route.  I really enjoy driving through the Langkloof which stretches over a distance of about 200 km between Kareedouw in the east and Herold, just north of George.  But who wouldn’t?  It is flanked by mountains on the north and south and the scenery changes from fynbos to summer fruit orchids and back at regular intervals.  The Langkloof was named by Isaq Schrijver in 1689 but wasn’t thoroughly explored until 1752 by an expedition led by August Frederik Beutler.  The valley has been farmed since 1760 and some families have been there several generations by now already.

Kareedouw Dutch Reformed Church

Kareedouw is the first town you encounter when you travel into the Langkloof on Route 62 from the Port Elizabeth side.  The name is thought to come from the KhoiSan word !karegadaob which means “A road past many Karee Trees”.

Kareedouw was established in 1905 as a Dutch Reformed Church congregation and I am assuming that is also the year that the church was built.  If not then in the few years just after.  I say assuming because I just can’t seem to find any more information about the church on the internet.  The church can be found on the southern side of town with the Tsitsikamma Mountains right behind it.  A small mountain pass just to the western side of town links the area with the Oudebosch area of the Tsitsikamma.
Next to the church is a small “heroes’ acre” where you will find the grave of Balthazar Johannes (John) Vorster, who was the prime minister of South Africa from 1966 to 1978.  I wish I had more information about this beautiful church but my visit was a very quick one (just to find the Geocache next to the “heroes’ acre”) and I didn’t have time to dig for information about it around town.  Perhaps next time.

The view from the Anglo Boer War fort at Uniondale

Uniondale between the Klein Karoo and the Langkloof is famous for it’s ghost, but I’m sure most people know very little else about the town.  Visitors will also find a lot of history in the area.  Amongst that is the fact that the town was protected by 6 British Forts during the Anglo Boer War.  One of these have been restored and can be visited on a hill overlooking the town.  I’ve always looked up at it passing through but on my last visit I decided to go and look for the Geocache located at the fort and made my way up for a closer look. 

Rust in Peace

Next to The Ark in Joubertina in the Langkloof stands the rusty remains of a tractor. A very old tractor.  In actual fact a 1928 Wallis tractor.  The first tractor to be brought to the Langkloof and the first of many tractors to follow.  Seeing a sight like this as a monument could be a bit on the weird side anywhere else, but in the Langkloof where farming plays such an important part in everyday life this is a significant part of their history.

The Ark in Joubertina

Most people travelling between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town either barrel down the Garden Route’s N2 in eight hours or explore the area over a period of several days.  Sadly very few people travel through the Langkloof along this beautiful section of Route 62, better known for the part running through the Klein Karoo.  The Langkloof isn’t a popular tourist destination, not because of a lack of beauty but rather because of its direct competition on the other side of the mountains.  This means that the tourism infrastructure isn’t that well developed, but what is there is well worth a visit.  Farm accommodation on working farms, mountain trails, adventure outings and most importantly, good old farming hospitality.

 The biggest town in the Langkloof is Joubertina.  The town was founded in 1907 and named after W A Joubert who was minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Uniondale between 1878 and 1893.  At one stage the twon was a dry town meaning no alcohol was alloed to be sold in the town.  This meant that the hotel with its pub and off sales was built outside the town boundaries.  My grandparents lived in Joubertina for most of their lives and my mom grew up and went to school there.  We still have family on my mom’s side who live in the Langkloof who we don’t get to visit nearly enough.

On the road through the town visitors will find The Ark.  Its a place to stretch your legs, fill your tummy, get something cold to drink and get some information and direction to your next destination.

Travelling through the Langkloof back from Oudtshoorn early January, we stopped at The Ark for lunch.  I had a Langkloof Burger with beef patty, bacon, egg, cheese, onions and… wait for it… home made hand cut chips.  Probably the best burger I had during the whole 16 day holiday.  So next time you have to travel between the Western and Eastern Cape, why not change your regular route and take in some sights in the Langkloof?