No hoot­ing please, the chick­ens are sleep­ing…

South African Country Life - - Editor’s Note - Nita Hazell Ed­i­tor

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.

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