11 – 13 November 2022
And so the weekend arrived. Andy McMahon, through the great universal database of information found this newly advertised “off the grid” camping spot called Jakkalsden near Montague. The turnoff to the farm was newly signposted, but the farmer was happy to accompany each arrival to the campsites. There were quite a few onion fields in bloom, what a beautiful sight.
Throughout the day the adventurers arrived: Andy and Colleen McMahon, John and Sue Fuísman, Ken and Shona Sturgeon, Ivan Napoleon and Anita, and their daughteí Claire. Also, Walter Mohr, Gilbert Pearce and granddaughter Misha and Peter and Ina de Vries. Ivan won the spot prize for best navigator in the dark, arriving somewhere between midnight and in time for breakfast.
Camping sites: It looks like the owner “had some fun” with a big yellow machine around a few kopjes on his farm, creating a network of roads and camping spots, mostly with great views. Due to the newness of the camp sites they are a “little” dusty, but off- roaders do not fear dust and other things like a little rain that raw nature throws at them. Nothing that a cold beer cannot fix.
Also, the ablutions are still being completed, so we had to make do with private showers and “off to the bushes”. Truly off grid. Saturday morning was a slow start, like it should with the campers leisurely preparing for the outing (s) of the day.
Firstly we drove the roads on the farm, enjoying the views and the plant, and we had a resident Botanist in the group, in Shona, providing great running commentary about Paraffin bushes and “Toontjie” lithops we had seen. These are true living stones!
Andy had organised with the farmer to have the gate to Poortjieskloof dam opened for us. At the gate Colleen showed great trust and bravery meeting the dogs who were supposed to defend the homestead. If I were the homeowner, I’d be worried!
My friends at Wikipedia provided the following information about Poortjieskloof dam. The Poortjieskloof Dam is a double curvature arch type dam located in the Groot River in Western Cape, South Africa. It was created in 1955 and has been renovated in 1968. The dam mainly serves for irrigation purposes and its hazard potential has been ranked high (3).
There is a lovely gravel road pass that was built by the Department of Water Affairs as part of the access road and construction for the Poortjieskloof Dam. Access is available within certain hours, by permit only. This is a popular freshwater fishing venue. The road is an out and back route and terminates at a view-site adjacent to the dam wall. The road is 5.5 km long and you have to return the way you entered, making the total drive 11 km.
The road has some very sharp turns and one or two places where the gradient is 1:4 (steep!). Thank you Wikipedia.
On our way back to Jakkalsden we stopped at Rietvallei Winery Padstal for a late lunch. Our group of 11 nearly overwhelmed the friendly owners, as they had just opened the venue the previous evening.
It was great to have the youngsters around the campfire, even starting a little debate: when is a fruit a fruit and not a vegetable….so the jury is still out on that!
Trip report by Peter de Vries.