Ad­ven­ture in the heat of the day

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

TOUR­ING the North­ern Cape and Ka­roo in sum­mer is def­i­nitely not for sissies.

With tem­per­a­tures soar­ing into the high 40s and mi­rages danc­ing be­fore your eyes, it is a land where only the strong­est and fittest sur­vive.

But, de­spite this, it is a land of stark beauty where the sandy roads are ar­row-straight for hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres head­ing into the deep-blue sky.

And, once you stop, the only sound in­vad­ing the eerie si­lence is the gen­tle whis­per of the wind.

It is no won­der that many ghost sto­ries have orig­i­nated in the North­ern Cape.

We took our 10-day sum­mer break and headed away from the madding crowds i n Cape Town, aim­ing t he bon­net of our trusty old 4x4 in the dir ec­tion of t he Tankwa Ka­roo en route in a great loop to Uping­ton then back home via Wil­lis­ton, Fraser­burg, Leeu Gamka, Oudt­shoorn and Mon­tagu.

I had promised to show my wife the real beauty of the land we were go­ing to tra­verse, and to do it all off the tar roads.

Af­ter our first day out in soar­ing tem­per­a­tures that would eas­ily match the heat in a black­smith’s shop or on the foot­plate of a steam train, she was cer­tain that I was short of a few brain­cells, es­pe­cially af­ter hav­ing to wrap a wet cloth around the petrol pump on my ve­hi­cle to keep it mov­ing, plus re­pair­ing one punc­ture and to­tally wreck­ing a sec­ond tyre.

How­ever, af­ter sun­set on that first day, when t he moun­tains t ur ned bright pink and the night wind cooled the land, all was for­given.

I had also promised to show her at­trac­tions in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors would pay thou­sands to see, and we cer­tainly found plenty to fill our minds and dis­tract us from the sear­ing heat.

We dis­cov­ered the best time to ex­plore was i n t he earl y morn­ing be­fore the sun ex­ploded into the sky and late in the af­ter­noon as the soft light threw shad­ows across the vast plains.

We en­coun­tered many in­ter­est­ing suc­cu­lents just me­tres off the road, so­cia­ble weaver’s nests cling­ing to ev­ery tele­phone pole for up to 100km, the ghost town of Put­son­der­wa­ter, had break­fast on Verneuk­pan where Sir Malcolm Cam­bell broke a world land speed record in 1929, and pho­tographed a lonely cy­clist ped­alling along the 17-mile track.

In ev­ery small town we met the most f r i e ndl y f ol k on t he pl a net , en­joyed re­fresh­ing home­made gin­ger­beer and some of the best cheese­cake.

In Ca­nar­von, a man drove along­side us, greeted us with a huge smile and an in­vi­ta­tion to en­joy the safest town in the coun­try. He turned out to be a pas­tor work­ing among the poor­est of com­mu­ni­ties in 19 towns.

Then we pho­tographed cor­belled build­ings, sand­stone churches and aban­doned rail­way sta­tions along the old SAR ser­vice roads, which we plied through­out the re­gion.

And along our 3 600km, jour­ney we came across fewer than 50 ve­hi­cles, were never plagued by im­pa­tient driv­ers, saw no pedes­tri­ans and only had to stop for small buck to cross the road and saved one, which had be­come tan­gled in a fence. CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS to Clive Hu­man for his pho­to­graph of a hoya flower. Clive wins din­ner for two at CinCin, where food and life are cel­e­brated with su­perb views of t he Cape Town c i t y s k y l i ne, Ta bl e Moun­tain, and its pièce de ré­sis­tance, a 3m gen­uine Swarovski crys­tal chan­de­lier.

CinCin is syn­ony­mous with el­e­gance and am­bi­ence. The menu changes with t h e s e a s o n s , i n c l u d i n g a n u mber o f themes: the veg­etable gar­den, the sea, the farm, the veld and fyn­bos.

From the moun­tains to the sea, the colour f ul dishes r efl ect l ocal f l avours; sweet, sun drenched, earthy, rich in taste and aroma. Visit CinCin at the Protea Ho­tel Colos­seum in Cen­tury City and al­low its team to re­veal the true essence of CinCin. What­ever lan­guage you speak, may it be a cel­e­bra­tion.

Our run­ners-up are Erika Rein­hardt for her pho­to­graph of a cr ocodile i n t he Chobe Na­tional Park; and Bev Arm­strong for her pho­to­graph of an old lady on a skiff out­side An Quang Pagoda, Viet­nam.

Travel2009 will con­tinue to pub­lish the pop­u­lar read­ers’ pho­to­graphic com­pe­ti­tion, with a prize of a din­ner for two for the win­ners each week.

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