By Julienne du Toit
Photographs by Chris Marais
Once a year, our friend Ryno Ferreira takes us into the Karoo’s winter snows for a full day in his invincible Landrover. It’s a glorious tradition. We chug up mountain passes, and then pick a snowy country road to explore, every year a new one.
But it didn’t look as if we’d have a Snow Patrol Day this winter. The Matroosberg Nature Reserve (a clear favourite with Cape Town based photographers) seemed to get all of the snow. It remained dry over in the eastern Karoo for most of the winter.
The fruit trees were already starting to bud and the willow trees were clothed in pale green before the weather forecasters started talking about an intense cold front and snow predicted on higher ground.
On Thursday evening the front hit Cradock with a whumping gust of icy wind that bowed the pine trees and brought snow to the Swaershoek and Wapadsberg Passes.
On Friday morning, we packed boiled eggs, cheese, pecan nuts and tea candles as emergency supplies, hoisted our dog into the blanket-covered rear of the vehicle and took the R61 up to Wapadsberg Pass.
Along the way, we saw springbok puffing up their thin fur for extra insulation. The black wildebeest were lying down and the eland and blesbok sheltered away from the cold wind in thickets of thorn trees. Snowy white, freshly shorn sheep kept to the bossieveld lowlands.
The Agter-Sneeuberg Mountains rose before us, haughty and implacably majestic in their snow cloaks.