Riebeek Kasteel to Clanwilliam, South Africa my Passion
It is early morning, and quite dark still as Cape Town people head for their various destinations all wrapped in coats and scarves against the cold, heaters on in the cars, and it seemed none too happy to have to bear the cold. I too am on my way to my first destination, Riebeek Kasteel, warmly dressed, heater on the car and my thoughts on the week ahead and all that I need to accomplish. As I neared the turnoff that will take me to Malmesbury from the N1, I note the little boy standing alongside the road. He must be all of eight years or younger, wearing a jacket of an adult, no shoes, and it seemed like a very thin little T-Shirt underneath. I acknowledged this all in a split-second while taking the off ramp to my destination. The reason why I noticed him was the incredible smile on his face, he had very little of what we had, yet despite his circumstances the smile that lit up his face was enough to ignite the world. That my fellow travellers, is South Africa.
Should you be travelling to Namibia or from Namibia, travel off the beaten track a bit, visit all the little towns you usually pass, spend time to walk, talk, have coffee and maybe stay overnight, small towns such as Graafwater, Klawer, Vredendal, Piketberg, Hopefield, Citrusdal, Clanwilliam, Vanrhynsdorp, Nieuwoudtville, and Calvinia have lots to offer if you would just take the time, Experience the old sandstone buildings, unique architecture, original rock art the warmth of the people, the unique fynbos and different tree and plant species that are abundant to these areas. Only then will you really share and be made aware of the incredible beauty of just a small section of this beautiful country and of the warmth of its people.
I started my journey while marketing the Cape to Namibia route in Riebeek Kasteel with its breathtaking views over the Riebeek Valley. The quaint little village nestled among these huge mountains and which seemed as sheltered from the outside world as a child in its mother arms. Seeing it through the eyes of a tourist, the interesting shops, wineries, olive farms, restaurants, set among the mountains, it promised to offer a smorgasbord of fine country living.
Further north passed Riebeek West and onto Malmesbury, this historic old town known as the “Heart of the Swartland” the wheat growing destination of the Western Cape. The first expedition was undertaken to the area known today as Malmesbury as early as 1655, by Jan Wintervogel by order of Commander Jan van Riebeek. Today it is a lush area, not just wheat producing but surrounded by successful wine farms and incredible historical old buildings dating from as early as 1745. Visitors to this town can view various Architectural styles from Gothic Revival to the Edwardian. The journey became more to me than just the marketing of an area, it made me humble against the beauty that surrounded me, and made me even more passionate to introduce our country with its incredible beauty to all that visit her, to awaken in each person the passion to revisit his or her own town and look at it through the eyes of a visitor. See the flaws and stand together as a community to address them, see the beauty and develop that which you already have to offer and can build on. The small town of Porterville, offers the only place in South Africa where you will find the rarest and famous Disa uniflora bloom, the rarest being the Sulphur Yellow Disa.
In the Cedar mountains, I found wonderful campsites, very neatly set out and well maintained, where the Clanwilliam cedar tree (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) occurs. It occurs only in the Cederberg mountains and it represents one of only 1 000 surviving conifer species in the world. The Cederberg Mountains were named after the magnificent Clanwilliam cedars, which now face possible extinction. In turn the Piekenierskloof is under constructions and fellow travellers being warned to expect delays or that the pass might be closed while blasting. However once completed it will be a joy to travel. The pass offer spectacular views, with various retreats to stay over and enjoy the beauty.
I would like to appeal to fellow travellers, to please respect the beauty and not to throw cigarette butts out of the window, fynbos is high in oil and burn easily, and litter defaces and land up in rivers and dams, destroying our ecosystems. We need to take hands and preserve our heritage for the sake of future generations such as the little boy along the road with the beautiful smile, which should ignite in each of us the pride and joy of living and being part of the most beautiful country, our own South Africa.