Roger requested three days off for my birthday, as he usually does. That way we can actually plan something, knowing that his schedule won’t be a problem. When we stopped in Kaapsche Hoop in November it suddenly started to rain so we could not walk to the edge of the escarpment as we had hoped. We decided to go back there now.
We took a leisurely drive, leaving home at about 12:30 on Friday 15th January and got to Kaapsche Hoop in the late afternoon. It is a small hamlet on the edge of the escarpment, seemingly with its head in the clouds more often than not! It was overcast and drizzling on-and-off when we got there so we stopped at the Salvador Pub to collect the key and went straight to our accommodation, the Royal Coach. The Queen’s Carriage (R8, used by princesses Elizabeth and Margaret), was one of the White Train coaches used for the British Royal Tour of South Africa in 1947. It was restored in 1995 and later converted into a 3-bedroom, self-catering facility.
We skipped lunch, a very unusual thing for me to do, so as soon as we settled in we went in search of some refreshment. It was too late for lunch and too early for supper so we settled for a carafe of red wine and chicken liver pâté at the Bohemian Groove Café. Yum…
There was a cosy fire burning and the background music was at just the right volume. I cannot remember when last I felt so completely chilled. We just sat there and enjoyed the atmosphere until it was supper time and ended up having supper there as well. After supper we went to the Salvador Pub, the other hangout in town, and ended off the evening with a Jameson on the rocks in front of their fire!
Our plan was to do a hike the next day but the weather had not changed so we took the opportunity to sleep in. After a rather late breakfast we decided to go to the Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Eden for a tour. What an interesting experience with our very informative guide Jana. The background of each Chimp was given; what he/she has been through, to their knowledge, and how that has scarred him/her, both physically and emotionally. We came away with an overwhelming sense of despair at the extent of damage caused by ‘humans’; but at the same time the extent of the care and compassion shown by others, such as the rescuers and donors. Perhaps there is some small measure of balance somewhere in the equation…
After the tour we had lunch at the visitors’ centre and of course could not resist browsing the shop and buying some goodies there.
By the time we got back to Kaapsche Hoop the cloud had lifted (note, I did not say the sun was out!) and we decided to do a short walk. Maybe we would be lucky enough to have a view over the Lowveld. And we were!
Due to the rugged terrain, weirdly eroded rock formations and ghostly swirling mists the place was initially known as Duiwels Kantoor. Thanks to the scenery being reminiscent of the Cape, it was renamed to Kaapsche Hoop in 1882 and the valley below became De Kaap Vallei.
My birthday dinner was at the Bohemian Groove Café. It was delicious, to say the least. It is important to note that there is no Woolies around the corner. The tasty salad ingredients were fresh from their garden (Benzoate free!) and the food presentation was testament to the owners’ personal involvement.
One of the attractions of Kaapsche Hoop is the wild horses; perhaps not truly wild but rather feral. There are many stories of how they became wild but whichever story resonates with you, it is pleasing to see the herds grazing, just minding their own business.
Breakfast on Sunday morning was at the Salvador Pub, as it was on Saturday morning. They make the most divine omelettes! Their coffee, however, is not that good so we stopped in at the Bohemian Groove for coffee before leaving town. There was one last stop and that was the cemetery across the road. It was a short walk amongst the pine trees, with the rain still drizzling down.
“These lime kilns, which were built in the 1880s to supply lime to gold mines in the area, are a national monument. Lime was used in the process of recovering gold. A German called Goddard built the 60-foot-high kilns using Italian and German builders. In 1899 cyanide was found to be more useful in the extraction of gold and Goddard fled to Europe leaving hundreds of unpaid workers and an insolvent lime mine.” Country Life Magazine, November 2013
On our way home we stopped at the Total Alzu service station for lunch. We always enjoy this, their flagship station, because of their commitment to conservation.
We arrived home in the late afternoon after a good, relaxing, long weekend.