A Mon­tagu Valen­tine

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

BLOUPUNT, the high­est peak in Mon­tagu, stands proud as it guards the small town nes­tled be­low in the val­ley.

Driv­ing through the Kog­man­skloof tun­nel, you en­ter the Lit­tle Ka­roo and a beau­ti­ful town that at­tracts many vis­i­tors, both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional.

Most peo­ple come for the at­trac­tions through­out the area and make the town a jump-off point for day trips, wine tast­ing, mag­nif­i­cent old build­ings, the well-cared­for mu­se­ums and to meet a cross-sec­tion of peo­ple. Added to this, Mon­tagu of­fers one of the most di­verse col­lec­tions of medic­i­nal herbs in the coun­try.

In fact, peo­ple call from all over the world, and many swear that the medic­i­nal herbs used hun­dreds of years ago by the Khoisan peo­ple help them with var­i­ous ail­ments. The Mon­tagu Mu­seum has been re­search­ing and record­ing the rich oral his­tory of the tra­di­tional reme­dies found in the Mon­tagu district since 1982.

Many be­lieve that the ma­jor­ity of medic­i­nal plants in the coun­try can be found in the 300km corridor from Kog­man­skloof, at the en­trance to Mon­tagu, to De Rust, past Oudt­shoorn. You can see, touch and smell more than 160 va­ri­eties of medic­i­nal plants at the back of Jou­bert House Mu­seum .

Dur­ing a re­cent visit to Mon­tagu, I sat with Blackie Baden­horst, a past cu­ra­tor of the mu­seum, and a knowl­e­gable per­son on medic­i­nal plants. She high­lighted a few and is proud of the mix­tures the mu­seum com­bines t o help t r eat more t han 40 d i f f e r e n t a i l ments , f r o m h i g h b l o o d pres­sure to colds and flus. She fur­ther high­lighted the kanna, a type of a nar­cotic that can help drug-de­pen­dent peo­ple as it is non-habit form­ing.

Ghaap, an­other plant, is be­ing ex­ten­sively cul­ti­vated and har­vested by a large phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal group, as an ap­petite sup­pres­sant. The San, on their long treks, used it to keep them go­ing when food and wa­ter were in short sup­ply.

We are fre­quent vis­i­tors to Mon­tagu, as we use it as the gate­way to dis­cover all the other towns and vil­lages in the area.

On our last visit, we stayed at the Mon­tagu Coun­try Ho­tel, which is owned and run by Gert Lubbe, a name syn­ony­mous with Route 62, and hosted by PJ Bas­son, the gen­eral man­ager.

The ho­tel was in­tended as a venue to host Paul Kruger, but the then owner sud­denly re­fused to host the man and the towns­folk en­ter­tained him at Jou­bert House. The ho­tel, built in 1875, is one of the many fine places of ac­com­mo­da­tion in the town and boasts a novel ex­pe­ri­ence, of­fer­ing a full art deco ex­pe­ri­ence. To crown it all, the ho­tel has a beau­ti­ful blue 1956 Cadil­lac De Ville, which re­ally turns heads wher­ever it goes.

We took the ride and re­laxed in the plush seats while PJ cruised slowly through the winelands and in­tro­duced us to some re­ally fine wine.

One that we will never for­get was a 2004 Zand­vliet Pino­tage, which we tasted on the Zand­vliet es­tate that is also home to many of the coun­try’s top race horses.

An­other fine wine es­tate worth vis­it­ing is the Jou­bert-Tradauw Pri­vate Cel­lar, a fam­ily, bou­tique-style cel­lar, 10km west of Barrydale on the well-known R62 route.

The first wine, R62, was made in 1999 (Jou­bert-Tradauw bour­deaux blend mer­lot/caber­net).

The Un­plugged62 range is an un­comp l i c a t e d s t y l e o f l i g h t wi n e s wi t h a dis­tinc­tive fruiti­ness and is very pop­u­lar with guests and in the over­seas mar­ket.

Even though Jou­bert-Tradauw is sit­u­ated in the Klein Ka­roo, the smaller re­gion, Tradouw, is im­por­tant to de­scribe the cli­mate which is a unique mi­cro-cli­mate in the Tradouw val­ley, that in­flu­ences the har­vest times so that they har­vest as late as March or April.

The farm wel­comes vis­i­tors for a full Klein Ka­roo hos­pi­tal­ity treat­ment where Meyer con­ducts tours and dis­cusses the wines.

Beate treats the vis­i­tors to her boere ta­pas al­fresco plat­ters, which are de­signed to com­pli­ment the dif­fer­ent wines.

Be­ing an avid walker, I then spent the af­ter­noon vis­it­ing 22 of the his­tor­i­cal build­ings in the town, plus a visit to the dried fruit shop where the va­ri­ety and moderate prices en­tices one to buy, buy, buy.

Mon­tagu is a fine base from which to set out to dis­cover the Ka­roo, coast and moun­tains. From the small town, you can eas­ily spend a lazy day driv­ing down to Cape Agul­has, Ar­niston and sur­rounds, or travel Route 62 to Barrydale then me­an­der over Tradouw pass to Su­ur­braak and Hei­del­berg, be­fore con­tin­u­ing to Rivers­dale and re­turn­ing via Gar­cia pass, with re­fresh­ments at Ron­nies Sex Shop.

It is also a great gath­er­ing place for mo­tor­cy­clists rid­ing the gravel roads from the town to Ladi­smith, and from Rivers­dale back via Korente dam then over Kanet­berg to Bran­driv­ier and through the town of Barrydale. For the re­ally ac­tive, Mon­tagu of­fers fine hik­ing up to Bloupunt, about a five-hour round trip, rock-climb­ing at Lego Land or off-road­ing on one of the sev­eral 4x4 trails in the area. Mon­tagu is also fa­mous for its hot springs and a visit even on the cold­est of win­ter days when you can eas­ily laze away in the hot wa­ter, is well worth a try.

Visit www.touris­m­mon­tagu.co.za or call 023 614 2471.

For herbal reme­dies, call Mon­tagu Mu­seum on 023 614 1950.

Email Gert or PJ at i nfo@ mon­tagu coun­try­ho­tel.co.za

Visit the Jou­bert-Tradauw Pri­vate Cel­lar at www.jou­bert-tradauw.co.za

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