Story and Photos by Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit
When we came to live in the Karoo back in 2007, everyone thought we were mad. The locals in our new home town asked if we had been chased out of Jo’burg. Why move from a huge house in the northern suburbs to a dorp that most people had once driven through, but never actually stopped in?
This dorp (Cradock, in the Eastern Cape Midlands), however, has many magical yellow brick roads leading west into God’s Own Country: the Karoo. And therein lies the lure. If road-tripping is in your blood and you’ve done all the fancy foreign stuff, South Africa’s dry (currently bloody wet) Heartland is your final frontier.
We could chunter on about the colourful people who live in these 101 towns, villages and railway sidings. We could wax lyrical about the mountain zebra, the farmer’s markets, the eccentric museums, the delicious padstal food on the way, beery afternoons in a Sneeuberg village, pumpkin festivals, pop-up alpacas, stoep-sitting when the rains fall and the thunder rumbles, hill-walking with sheepdogs and old bikers who cross these plains on their BMW machines, their eyes full of youth once more.
We could tell you about where the windpumps are made, about lamb chops sizzling on thorn tree coals, about country cricket and meerkats at dawn, cowgirls on fast horses, San etchings deep in the hills, ghosts who dance across rivers, snowy winters, shamans who can heal with veld herbs, diamond divers in Port Nolloth, draadkarretjie races in Philipstown, the inside track on Gothic churches, the time when circus lions roamed the streets of Aberdeen and how they dance the Riel in the Hard Man’s Karoo.
They say when you go travelling, it’s best to “know before you go”. Our first two books in the Karoo Roads Collection will inspire you with accounts of our trips, encounters and adventures over the years. Road Tripper – Eastern Cape Karoo has been designed for the cubby hole of your vehicle. It will show you the way through the Karoo Heartland, from our home to the hearths of all the people who lured us to this enchanted place 15 years ago.
If road tripping is in your blood, these are the books you need.
Normally this trio would cost R850. But for the next few weeks, the price is R680, including courier. Contact Julie du Toit at firstname.lastname@example.org for that special price and courier details. And look out for us along the way.