March 5th 2018
Graaft – Reinet to Kimberley
Time: 7 hours – including an hour of randomness in Cambedoo and limping into random towns
It felt at home at Villa Reinet. The owner took our breakfast orders and regaled us with interesting stories of the historical villa, why they decided to retire here and history tidbits. It would have been educative to visit a museum or some of the galleries but we were pressed for time. As the 4th oldest city in SA, there’s a ton to learn about the town that came into existence in the mid 18th century by nomadic farmers. There’s over 200 national monuments!
We left at 8am and headed towards Cambedoo National Park, famous for dolomite pillars that you could admire from the top of the mountain accessed by 4×4 trails.
We drove through the park and expected the mist to retreat, however, it got worse as we drove towards the start of the 4×4 trail at the the top of the winding mountain. At this point, the guide was talking and driving and almost lost control. I lost it (the first of many times) and told him that we didn’t have to drive into the mist to see more mist. So we descended to a second grade picnic area and took panoramic photos of the pastoral view of the Karoo Region, better in reality than our cameras. The park is known for game viewing as well, but we saw none and could only hear the birds.
We drove by small towns, each charming in its own way, but organized in the same manner; main road lined by historical homes and a church. If it was a big town, you’d see a KFC somewhere.
We stopped by Petrusville for a biltong snack and furry friend cuddles. According to our guide, he was going to take us to the best biltong town in South Africa, so he suggested we take it easy and go large at the ‘best’ biltong town. Fine, as it was around noon, we drove by another town called Hope that looked weird AF. He said ‘it’s where the real SA food at’. For reals? This town has like 5 houses. So we stopped at its only empty restaurant with a menu in Afrikaans. #nope. How long was it to Kimberly? He said ‘another hour’. We shall wait. I was taken aback at how he assumed it was the best food when he’s never been there himself.
As usual, it took more than hour to get to Kimberley. It’s alright. The scenery alternated from green plateaus to rocky terrain to vast meadows rich with corn leaves shimmering underneath the sun. Scattered farms everywhere. The drive was far from monotonous. During the drive, I would often take breaks and read ‘The Bright Hour, a memoir of living and Dying’ by Nina Riggs. It was bleak but I had to come to terms with the experience I’ve been through in the past 2 years and this book was a turning point. Hours and hours of driving into mind blowing landscapes gave me the time to take it all in, be grateful for the present and keep an open mind about the world in between.
Finally, we checked into our guest house in Kimberley at 3pm. The owner, an ex Chef at a 5 star establishment in Joberg, suggested a couple of places we lunch at, a stone’s throw away. He gave us good advice. We settled for lunch at the local pub and dinner at the Ocean Basket, a seafood chain. There was something eerie about exploring the area outside our street. After lunch, we walked to the Mcgregor Museum, the sun hidden somewhere. Once upon a time, it was ‘Hotel Belgrave’ and a school. Now, it has a collection of amazing memorabilia, large exhibits of archeology, botany and geology, to name a few. You can spend a whole day in there studying everything related to SA and its history until modern day documented in a manner that makes it easy to understand. I loved it! Unfortunately, we arrived at 4:15pm and had to rush through the entire complex. No one else in sight except for one staff. I loved the wooden flooring that creaked, the mosaics on the walls, and the grand staircase. It smelled like earthy floors and fresh spring rain.
The rooms at Kimberley Country House were stylish and elegantly decorated. The natural lighting in my room was uplifting. Check out my favorite nook below.