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April 2010

Montagu of the Klein Karoo

Montagu is the Western Gateway to the Klein Karoo and has lots to offer.   We stopped off for a day and ended up staying 4.   


Montagu is known for its hiking trails with 2k, 15k and 19k hikes within easy distance from our guest farm.   Dan and I took off for the nicely steep trail that went up the 15k Cogmanskloof trail and soon found ourselves with a bird's eye view of the town.
First off, we slept under the stars at the De Bos Guest Farm.   It was a Saturday night, and we fell asleep while listening to the peaceful sounds of the stream below, as the frogs and birds added their songs.   We woke to stunning views of the surrounding mountains.     Here is our landlady from Stellenbosch waking up on the farm.

We were wakened by Jasmine a soft and friendly dachshund/dalmation mix that loved to wiggle and hide in the willow leaves and watch the birds.   She and her brother Max have the run of the farm and couldn't look more different.   Apparently all of the pups in her litter looked an odd mix.


Montagu is also world renowned for its rock climbing.   We met some Australians who were very surprised at the variety of climbs offered.   The people who run the De Bos farm are expert climbers themselves who can give advice.

Montagu also has some lovely Cape style architecture and gardens which are worth a gander.

Montagu is also home to the Mystic Tin Brewery, run by Wayne.   He is offering two draft beers at present from his fridge - a honey lager and a dark draught.   They are both quite tasty and a cut above the normal South African beers on offer.  
Wayne is also good company and his guest house brewery has a lovely garden, cats and a homey atmosphere.    His coffee is among the best we've tasted in South Africa.

Wayne is an art aficionado as well who features a local artist named Tonya Laure-Smith. 

Another piece by Tonya Laure-Smith.

We found these lovely glass conductors on one of our walks into the mountains and hope that Tonya can use them in her sculptures.   She also runs a project helping the youth of Montagu to create art.  If these weren't so heavy, I'd have brought them down the hill myself!


More tomorrow!

Beware of Dog signs from the Klein Karoo

Beware of the Dog signs abound in the the area of South Africa known as the Klein (Little) Karoo.

This is the best Beware of Dog signboard I have found yet in South Africa -- hand painted with all the nice details such as dripping blood (or is it drool?) and 3 languages (Africaans, Xhosa and English).

Maybe these dachshunds ate the Killer Maltese?   There was a study in the UK about the most dangerous dogs and dachshunds topped the list.   Pit Bulls came in fifth. 


Another hand made sign in a traditional style.   I am trying to find out which language is featured on the top.   Waarskuwing!   Sounds dangerous.

This handsome boxer is one of a pair that we met in the town of Montague.

I like the double triangulation here.   South Africans have a lot of interesting mailboxes.  More to come on a later blog about that!


Another dramatic sign.

Four languages - one sign!   This house is typical of houses in the Montague area of the Klein Karoo.

I'm not sure what kind of a dog THIS one is.

My favorites are usually ones with real live friendly ones behind them.   Here Dan is sticking his hand in to pet this dog again.

Sometimes South Africa reminds me of Nepal.   Look at those haystacks!

This one looks vicious!

Above is Jakey, a big, muscular handsome Boxer.   He is NOT a danger dog!   Jakey has that special Boxer wiggle down pat.

More tomorrow, as I will be in more upscale towns with better computer services.  

South African days and Fynbos flowers

More wine tastings were on the agenda as we traveled from Stellenbosch to a small town named Tulbagh.

The lovely Catherine was our hostess at the Tulbagh Winery -  a winery that buys wines from 70 different farms and blends them into well priced wines.    We enjoyed  the wines thoroughly and left with a nice selection for drinking on our upcoming Klein Karoo adventure.

The Rustenberg Winery started in the 1600's and has fantastic gardens and buildings.  These long-beaked birds are everywhere in the Western Cape and have a loud tweet.

The grounds are grazed by these huge bulls.   This winery does not make cheese, but these are their attractive lawn mowers.   Or maybe attractive lawn moo-ers. 

Again, my photos do not do justice to the scale and marvelous colors of this huge garden, but I will try.

The fall colors of the Japanese anemones, and the many varieties of salvias made a great spectacle.  

The garden is at the end of a long, long drive lined with various shades of purple flowers.   The wines at Rustenberg were delicious as well, with the John X. Merriman red blend my particular favorite and Dan preferred the Peter Barlow Cabernet.  

Here is a stand of the Japanese anemones contrasting an unknown orchid-like flower.

This little charmer we found walking in the Jonkershoek Nature Trail.   The flower is not much bigger than my thumbnail and this bulb is only 2 inches tall (5cm).   It grows in groups in the shade of pine trees.

Above is the lovely Witsenia maura Bokmakieriestert, named after a South African bird.  Flowering is at its peak in November.   We found this on the Circle Road in the Cape Point Nature Reserve.

The next few photos are from the fynbos above Muizenberg in the Cape National Park.  Fynbos is the Cape term for their natural plant habitat.  


This view is looking across False Bay from near the Cape of Good Hope towards Simon's Town.   Another lovely, peaceful South African day.

A haemanthus lily found in the Spes Bones forest high above Kalk Bay.   Also known as a blood lily.

One of the many Ericas (or heaths) that brighten the fynbos.

The view from the top looking over to the other side of False Bay.

A tablecloth of a cloud covered us as we walked, saving us from the hot South African sun as we walked and muting the colors of the heathers and the proteas.

This protea flower is as large as a soccer ball.   Some are as small as a nickel.  

The fog is starting to lift...

 100_1077 we head down, down, down into the coastal sunshine.  

More next week.

Vintage Wines, Automobiles and Art in South Africa

We drove to the winery ZevenWacht the other day for a wine and cheese tasting.   They are one of the few wineries in the Stellenbosch area that grows a Zinfandel grape.  


Our host for our tastings was the delightful Dene Lackay.   She explained our cheese and wines cheerfully and thoroughly. Born in 1983 -- the same year as the winery -- she guided us through a series of red wines.   Dan's favorite was the 2008 Pinotage, while my fave was the 2007 Primitivo.   They also feature a Tin Mine Red named after the Tin Mine that the government tried to foist on their lovely property.   Thank goodness the owner had the guts to stand up to them and save this gorgeous winery property from tin mining.  

Dene and Johann are enthusiastic hosts who added their own panache to the tasting and made it especially fun for us all.   We couldn't help but overhear some of Johann's explanations to his rather large tour group, but our personalized and intelligent attention from Dene took the cake. 

Our landlady and driver, Marie Beukes, enjoyed the Pinotage and looking at the well-stocked gift shop.

Another day we went to the Franschoek Auto Museum and were pleased to find our collections had some things in common.

The museum is organized in 4 large buildings with approximately 20 cars in each.   Of course, they had a 1959 Cadillac and a 1960 as well, both convertibles.   Mine is not this clean and not a convertible, but otherwise, it was good to see my Caddy represented here in such good company.

Dan's 1958 MGA was also included in the collection.  

By far the most interesting car in the collection to me was the Czechoslovakian Tatra with its rear engine and large single rear fin.  

I highly recommend visiting this auto museum while in Franschoek.   The guide was knowledgeable and fun, the setting beautiful and even Dan learned something new.

Our last day in Muizenberg was spent puttering around the neighboring town of Kalk Bay where we found the delightful art gallery ArtVark.   Above is a great re-use of a potato sack.  

This gallery was filled with art that was interesting and colorful.  

Their website is located at

The prices seemed reasonable and affordable.

Lots of dog images and animal images were included.

These felted baskets are included for my good friend Joan who also felts.

More tomorrow.

Signboards of False Bay


Simon's Town Museum has a fine mascot!   We saw a couple of South African tourists who had bought the Captain's hat, but they were not as striking as this fellow.

We took the train from Muizenberg to Simon's Town and then walked back.   It was a sunny, blustery day -- perfect for appreciating the beaches of this Indian Ocean coastal paradise.   

I'm not sure why the painting of the ship has the stencilled lettering over it, but this sign caught my eye and is an example of what we lose when all is pre-printed.

I enjoyed this series.   Ghana is not the only African country to have good barber shop art!

Sandwich boards are the best type of advertising for this type of signboard.

Nellie is definitely on a roll with these two.

I'm not sure why in these two double portraits one person has their eyes open and the other closed.   Anyway, stop by and get your hair done by Nellie next time you are in Fish Hook!

This signboard that is on all train platforms made us laugh.   Apparently one is not supposed to knock out the train's windows with one's fists.  

I will be writing more on Tuesday.   South Africa takes Good Friday and the following Monday seriously and all the cyber cafes will be taking a much deserved break.   The next time you hear from me, we will have passed from the beaches back into Stellenbosch wine routes and then off to the Klein Karoo!

Have a wonderful Easter.