With postcard-pretty scenery and meandering roads, the Overberg is ideal for a scenic drive. Stop off at one of the many farmstalls for treats that will have you coming back. By Magriet Kruger
During last year’s lockdown I found myself craving wide vistas and open roads. So one of the first things I did when the stay-at-home restrictions were lifted was to take to the road. It led me to rediscover the joy of the leisurely scenic drive – not necessarily going anywhere, but just going.
It was because of this that we found ourselves on the road to Franschhoek with only the vaguest idea of where we might go next. We wanted to steer clear of the busy N1 and N2 so that we could spend more time appreciating the landscape unfolding outside the car’s windows.
The Cape’s most spectacular pass
On an impulse we headed for the Franschhoek Pass, a sinuous ribbon of tar that ascends the Franschhoek Mountains on the far side of the Winelands town. This pass is widely known as one of the Cape’s most spectacular mountain drives and no wonder. A patchwork of vineyards, fields and white houses lay below as we wound our way to the top.
On the other side the pass makes a slow descent through the mountains. We savoured the scenery as we admired cyclists cranking their way up from the opposite direction. The Franschhoek Pass has several stopping points where you can get out to admire the view. A noteworthy sight is the bridge at Jan Joubert’s Gat. It dates from 1825, making it the oldest stone bridge in use in South Africa.
The road continues on to the Theewaterskloof Dam, where our spirits lifted at the sight of so much water. We faced the choice of carrying on to Grabouw and the N2 or completing our circuit via Villiersdorp, Worcester and the N1. Not ready to get back onto a major road yet, we decided to hunt around for a good gravel track.
A pass with splendid surrounds
We found the answer in the Van der Stel Pass, a 17km pass that connects Theewaterskloof and Botrivier. While not as jaw-dropping as the Franschhoek Pass, this gravel road will pull at your heart strings. When we drove it in late spring, the fruit trees were in blossom and the bright yellow of canola fields contrasted beautifully with the blue sky.
Aside from a lone farm bakkie, we didn’t pass any other vehicles and had the impression of being in a secret world. Every sign board we passed – for olive and wine farms, for guest accommodation – had the allure of a hidden gem.
Enjoying this taste of dust, we continued onto the Hawston View Road for more picture-perfect views of the Overberg countryside. We came out just across the highway from Dassiesfontein, the farmstall where you can buy everything from old Aga stoves to handmade products in chic packaging. And, of course, pies. Their generous pies in buttery pastry have built up quite a reputation, so we had to indulge.
The pass on the way home
The stretch from Botrivier to Grabouw is one of my favourite tar roads. Hairpin bends snake up the mountain while in the Elgin area orchards, forests and vineyards grace the side of the road. Near Grabouw is where you’ll find Peregrine Farmstall, also known for its legendary pies. Whenever we pass Peregrine, we stop to stock up on pies. This time was no exception, even though we’d had pies from Dassiesfontein shortly before. To my mind Peregrine’s succulent game pie is the best in the country. Certainly worth any hint of discomfort from overindulging.
Then we were homeward bound, our scenic drive almost at an end. But first there were still the breathtaking views over False Bay from Sir Lowry’s Pass to enjoy. Our minds were so filled with the beauty of all we had seen, we barely noticed the wait at the traffic lights at the bottom of the pass. Instead, we were too busy planning our next drive in search of the best freshly baked bread.
With Tracks4Africa maps you can find mountain passes, farm stalls and much more to make your next drive or road trip unforgettable. Plan your trip in advance or navigate on the fly; it’s easy with our GPS and paper maps.