Africa trips

Trip to Appelboskraal - 19 July 2003

Overlanding Trips

My wife and I left home at about 11.30 on Saturday morning in our Kombi Syncro, bound for Appelboskraal, a friend’s farm on the Doring River on the other side of the Cedarberg.

Our trip took us over Pikenierskloof Pass, past Citrusdal and on to Clanwilliam. Of course we had to do the traditional stop at a farm stall to buy a pocket of Naartjies. There is no way that one can drive through that area and not get something citrus. The trip would just not be complete.

We topped up with petrol and supplies in Clanwilliam and did a quick calculation to check the fuel consumption and I wish I hadn’t. 5 kilometers per liter!!!!!! Anyway, up and over Pakhuis Pass and the beautiful Cedarberg and right at the “Engelsman’s” grave and down into Biedouw Valley. I once saw a better display of spring daisies in that valley than I had ever seen anywhere in the Namaqualand. However, it is still winter so no flowers and there probably won’t be any at all this year due to one of the worst droughts ever experienced. A stark reminder of the drought was the sign on the way to Uitspankraal that warns one of no thoroughfare during winter months, as one has to cross the Doring River through a drift. No such problem this time, right in the middle of winter.

We arrived at Appelboskraal just beyond Uitspankraal mid afternoon and our friends who had left on Friday afternoon were waiting for us. They had towed a trailer full of Lucerne to feed the goats and sheep as there is nothing to graze in the lands at all. This was their second load in as many weeks that they had taken up in an effort to keep the animals alive. Every bush and shrub is eaten bare and there is no new growth evident. Even the alienated Oleander that is not close to the river is dying.

What was exciting for the locals and us is that the river had started flowing for the first time this season from the bit of rain that we had had during the week. What was quite amazing is that when our friends arrived on Friday the front of the river was in line with his house. On Saturday when we arrived it was about four hundred meters further and on Sunday morning it was about one and a half kilometers further. To experience seeing the front of the river starting to flow on dry ground as it dams up and overflows into the next hollow was really something to see. What was even more amazing is the volume of water that was constantly flowing past our camp and the front edge of the river had hardly moved. I wished that I had more time to be able to watch the progress or better still to capture it on film.

On Saturday night we went on an animal spotting trip in the Syncro along the river to see if we could see anything, but to no avail. On Sunday we went right down to the bottom edge of the farm and the river had not reached there yet. We did see quite a few animal tracks in the sand along the river’s edge.

After lunch we set off for home and decided to choose the alternate route home. Meaning carrying on over the Doring River and coming back through Ceres instead of going back the way we came. After wading through the very cold river to check for any deep spots we drove through without any problems. It was only knee deep at the deepest point. Somehow we got horribly lost in the endless plains of the Kouebokkeveld mainly due to the lack of road signs. Eventually we spotted a farmer feeding his sheep with Lucerne near an intersection and after a little chat about our “rigting” or lack thereof and about the drought, he directed us on the right road, which was the one we had just come down! Just goes to show. About 20 to 30kms from there we joined up with the Calvinia/Ceres road and we were in familiar territory

The only other eventful happening was a stop at the Ceres Spur for a milkshake before negotiating Mitchell’s Pass and Bain’s Kloof. The weekend was nicely rounded off with a very pleasant braai at home that evening. Just in time too, because winter started on Monday morning.

This trip report was compiled by:
Peter Taylor
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