No hooting please, the chickens are sleeping…
Sitting in the treacle-like traffic this morning I could well believe that congestion on the roads is up by 23 per cent globally since 2008 and 10 per cent up on 2015.
And if you think the traffic is bad in Johannesburg, spare a thought for Capetonians. According to the TomTom Traffic Index 2017, the Mother City is the most congested city in South Africa, followed by Johannesburg, East London of all places, Pretoria and Durban. In fact, in a study of 390 cities around the globe, Cape Town ranks 48th in the world for traffic jams, Johannesburg is in at 70. (Mexico City takes top spot worldwide, followed by Bankok and Jakarta).
Luckily we can escape to the relative (lots of mooing and clucking going on) peace and quiet of the countryside. And with several public holidays and a long weekend coming up in April, many of us are planning our
Great Escape. The beauty is we don’t have to venture too far from home to enjoy some much-needed R&R.
About 35 kilometres from where I was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic in Bryanston, lies Irene Diary Farm. Wedged between the sprawling cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, this historic farm is an idyllic piece of countryside where kids can run free, climb on tractors, interact with calves and watch the cows being milked. You can even buy a gallon of fresh, full-cream milk from the shop on the farm
(The Farm Caught in the Middle page 74). Venture a little further north towards the Hartbeespoort Dam and you’ll stumble on a pristine mountain wilderness, with plenty of game and a river running through it. Here, the Hennops Hiking Trail offers carefully laid-out routes that criss-cross the gorges and river, on a farm that is a hiker and biker’s paradise and the ideal family getaway (Hike the Hennops page 78).
You certainly won’t encounter any traffic jams when gliding above the Karoo veld in a colourful hot air balloon called Zoom-Zoom. This latest attraction in Prince Albert is sure to put the village on the map as the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the Karoo (Chasing Balloons in the Karoo page 24).
Confirmation that heaven is indeed a place on earth is found in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The tarred R320 that once stopped halfway up the valley now winds upwards through sublime scenery, embracing more than a dozen top wineries on the Hermanus Wine Route, with a number of restaurants in between. And have no fears about drinking and driving, just catch the Hop-on Hop-off shuttle from Hermanus.
(Di-Vine Valley page 98).
But if you really want to get as far as possible from city traffic, make a beeline for the AfrikaBurn festival in the Tankwa Karoo. You might have to dodge a monster snail, a giant egg or even a gondola gliding across the desert, but it’s all part of the creativity and revelry at what many consider the country’s premier arts festival
(The Burn for Beginners page 30).
On your way back from The Burn, take a detour and stop for lunch at Waverley Hills outside Wolseley. Here, chef Francois du
Toit serves up deliciously different boerekos. Whatever you order, don’t miss out on his pampoenkoekies with thyme-butterscotch sauce, served as an accompaniment to slow-roasted lamb or chicken pie (Lost and Found page 98).
Happy thoughts and easy travels.