Back Roads & 4x4

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    Why visit Kimberley’s Big Hole?

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    Led by our guide, we tuck ourselves like sardines into a rickety lift. With much creaking and trembling, it descends amidst a din of shouting voices and loud rattles for what feels like an interminable interlude. We’re going down 800 metres, our guide grins at us. When we come to a juddering halt and we escape from our unstable confines into a series of darkly lit tunnels supported by steel rods, he admits we’ve only moved 5 metres.

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    Hippos in Hanover, Bo-Karoo

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    Take 1 Bo-Karoo farmer with a bakkie-load of perseverance and patience. Give him 6 years in which to exercise that perseverance and patience … and voilà! You have hippos again in a river called the Seekoei — in the Karoo, mind you — after more than 2 centuries. But this stoic farmer, PC Ferreira, hasn’t simply stopped there. He now has visions to reinstate some of the wildlife species that, before the white colonial hunters arrived, used to roam the Karoo scrublands in great numbers.

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    Not-so-secret Kenton

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    At the Boesmansrivier boat slipway on the western banks of the estuary (follow River Street from the little settlement), there is a 3.5 km walk (one way) along a truly exquisite stretch of beach to a rocky headland, frothing turquoise ocean on your left, pristine dune hills to your right. Here there is nothing but footprints.

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    Slow Revolution in Britstown

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    There's an inspiring message emerging from the far-flung forgotten place of Britstown, and it's all about how South Africa can take back its ailing country towns. The remodelling of old rundown properties (that yet show great potential) into appealing coffee shops, restaurants and lodges makes it attractive for travellers, and eventually first-time visitors, to stay awhile.

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    Sani Pass under ice (and some snow)

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    On a beautiful day, the benches outside Sani Mountain Lodge have sensational views onto the loopy Sani road, the hills, kloofs and valley far, far below. But today, the wind was needle-piercing cold in spite of muffled-up kids, oblivious to temperature, scraping up the ice

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    Bastervoetpad, a pass to be reckoned with

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    Our two 4x4s bounced, swayed, tilted, and slid. In places it was clear local farmers had packed stones into the worst of the ditches and washaways (not that this made our going any easier), and often stray fallen boulders encroached onto the rudimentary track.

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    Swaziland – Conservation & Kamikaze Drivers

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    It was dry, very dry. Dust tailed us as we drove, on a road left to the vagaries of the erosive elements and the passage of vehicles. Our 4x4s came out of a curve, and suddenly there they were ꟷ Africa’s most pursued wild animal: rhino. And we’d hardly entered the gates of Hlane Royal National Park! We were also the only two cars on the road, in spite of the line of Dutch and Italian tourists at the entrance.

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    Swartberg Pass, Prince Albert & Swartrivier Olive Farm

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    It’s the artisan lemon ice-cream that did it. Wrapped in a bright yellow cellophane parcel on a pretty flower plate, you peel away the shiny paper to find a whole frosted lemon with a tiny lopped-off lid. Dip your spoon inside to scoop out a mouthful of the creamiest, lemoniest, most lip-smacking ice cream you will ever remember eating. Not too sweet, just tart enough. And that’s why we keep on going back…

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    Papkuilsfontein, A Farm stay in the Great Karoo

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    Papkuilsfontein farm is a place of merino sheep, rock canyon walls, Verreaux’s eagles and flat Karoo vistas. It also has the most authentic stone cottages around to give you a taste of real farm life. Sitting on the escarpment of the Bokkeveld mountains in the Great Karoo, the farm is just south of Nieuwoudtville, a tiny settlement whose main reason for existence is the spring flower displays erupting annually from arid-soil corms and tubers.

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