Valentine’s Weekend Outing

13 – 14 February, 2021

This was a weekend with a difference, in that the weekend was spent on the fascinating farm of club member, Laurence Green, high up in the mountains overlooking the Tankwa Karoo. The group included Laurence and Mandy, their daughter Courtney, their son Cameron in his Land Cruiser, Dieter and Liechen (Dieter having fixed his Landy after the last outing!), Rob Hall, Ivan and Anita, Ken and Shona and of course, Andy and Colleen. The latter couple only caught up with the group in Ceres, having to double back home to collect the bedding they had left behind – much to the amusement of the rest of us.

The route to the farm turned off right on the top of Gydo Pass before Op die Berg, and took us through increasingly arid countryside with magnificent rock formations before a steep diagonal track up a mountain side to a group of “farms” on the top – one of which was Laurence’s.  A brief stop for lunch was made as we started to explore the mountain top. Generally the tracks made for slow driving as wash-aways had to be navigated and rocks avoided.

Our ascent and subsequent antics were recorded by Cameron by his drone which sounded like angry bees ready to descend on us. Mandy put us all to shame by running in front of the cars – how she didn’t fall flat on her face on the increasingly rough road or get run over by her loving husband is credit to her fitness!

A decision was taken to explore the route down to a valley, which proved to be challenging with plenty of road building and cross-axle driving – Laurence requiring some rock packing at one point to prevent him slipping sideways into a donga. The views over the top of the mountain into the far distant mountains were stunning, and trying to identify the proteas and fynbos engaged Shona full-time.

Then to the camp site – a sandy flat piece of land overlooked by a rocky krantz where extra wood was found left by the last camper. Tents were erected and all collected in the shade of Laurence’s awning for the usual kuier. As all had followed instructions and brought wood, a great fire was made in the only construction for miles around – the circle of stones for the fire. A great evening was had by all – good weather and not much wind. The fire was so successful it was still glowing in the morning.

As the idea was to explore further on the way home, we left the campsite at around 10 a.m. and drove to explore higher up where there was an interesting space circled by rock formations where the ground was covered in small black manganese pebbles. Apparently the area used to be covered in white sand – evidence of the effect of rain and wind. Still higher up, and after seeing some buck in the distance, we stopped for a lunch break at a breathtaking viewpoint from where we overlooked the Tankwa, the Sutherland mountains in the distance.

The trip home was equally interesting as we retraced our route down the mountain seeing views from a different angle. Courtesy of Andy, once down the mountain we visited several sites to look at San paintings. Back to Ceres, where we bade each other farewell – particularly to Dieter who will be heading overseas east for the next few weeks to earn himself a living!

We all look forward to more visits to this lovely place – many more plants to ID, not to mention experiencing the wide open spaces. Many thanks from all of us to Laurence and Mandy.

Trip report contributed by Ken & Shona Sturgeon