What happens when you have the All-New Land Rover Discovery at your disposal? You take it camping. Off-road.
The new Land Rover Discovery 3,0 TDV6 HSE Luxury is a whole lot of car. It’s so technologically advanced I was a little scared to push any buttons in case one of them was the ejector seat. That said, there are a lot of buttons that do amazing things, like turn on the built-in seat massager.
Nothing like a bit of relaxation to kick off a weekend getaway.
The enormous boot has ample luggage space and the easy-to-operate offroad capability (again, it’s just a matter of pushing buttons) made camping the goal. Somewhere close, yet remote.
We piled camping gear into the car, popped some cool drinks into the small console fridge between the front seats (yup, this car has one of those too) and set off on an adventure.
Camp in Tulbagh
Tulbagh is an easy drive from Cape Town. The 120-kilometre route is the perfect amount of time to settle in and get into a good road trip groove. After the quaint town of Tulbagh, we drove a couple more kays to the foot of the Winterhoek Mountains.
Past farmland, an abundance of fynbos and proteas the track to our campsite for the night proved a good testing ground for the new Land Rover. At R1314000 this is pricey car and I felt a little precious about it creeping up the rock-strewn mountain, but the Land Rover certainly proved itself.
And you can’t deny, it’s a pretty good looking car! Eventually, we arrived at Secret Falls, a lush campsite in prime mountain location with incredible views over the farmlands of Tulbagh. The campsite is the perfect setting for a weekend retreat.
There are hot showers and each camp site has its own tap with a hose pipe, which is really thoughtful. Prepare beforehand though. You need to remove your own rubbish, so pack dustbin bags and supply your own firewood – the Spar in town sold it for around R15 a bag.
The night was quiet, although cold so pack some extra blankets. After rustling up some coffee, we jumped straight back into the car and switched on the seat warmers.
Do it: R140 per person and R80 each for children, dogs and trailers.
Cruise up a winding mountain pass
Once the sun was up it was time to tackle the 4X4 road again, but this time heading downhill back into Tulbagh. Then around the back of the Winterhoek Mountains and on towards Piketberg.
From the hillside-town (draw cash here) it’s an easy, if very winding climb up Versveld Pass. Up here, the mountain air is cooler, the views are better and various crops flourish. It’s called Piketberg-Bo-berg and is home to farms with apples, pears, persimmons, plums and peaches, which you can spot from the road. Even pink almond blossoms bloom up here.
Do it: The 105-kilometre drive takes about an hour and a half, without stops.
Hit the farmers market
A farmers’ market is held every last Saturday of the month at Kruistementvlei in the Piket-Bo-Berg. It’s a local institution and gives both visitors and farmers the opportunity to buy or sell their goods and share in genuine country hospitality.
You’ll find everything from pancakes, fresh flowers, olives, almonds, vegetables, bread and jam, to crafts and plants for sale. Music is generally provided by a live local band too.
Do it: The Piket-Bo-Berg Farmer’s Market is free to visit and open from about 9:00 on the last Saturday of the month. The next one will be on 28 October 2017.
Find the secret gravel road
The good farmers at Kruistementvlei let us in on a sneaky back road secret. So we steered the Land Rover towards Hopefield via Goedverwacht and joined the R399 that heads out towards the West Coast. The gravel road was easy and sprinkled with excellent views. The Landy performed perfectly in this terrain – even the cornering was smooth going around the tight mountain bends and the tar arrived far too quickly.
Do it: Head back toward Piketberg from Kruistementvlei Farm in Piket-Bo-Berg. Keep an eye out for the gravel turn after about two kilometres, the road looks as though it’s turns off onto a private farm, but it’s not. You can even use Google Maps to find it.
Explore a little village
Hopefield is a delightful village. Said to be the oldest Cape West Coat town it’s surrounded by fynbos, daisies, yellow canola fields in summer and green wheat in winter. It not on the major tourist routes, like Darling and Paternoster are, but it’s absolutely worth a stop. Especially on Saturdays, when the farmers market is open. You’ll find cheese, incredible baked goods, samoosas, marmalades, fresh veggies and more.
Once fully stocked up, tuck into lunch next door at Hello. cafe. The homemade babotie pie is divine and affordable at R45, plus you can even get some frozen ones to eat back at home.
Do it: The drive to Hopefield via Goedverwacht takes an hour and a half. Little on the menu at Hello. cafe is over R50 and the farmers market is right next door. Both venues are on Church Street opposite the big white church in the centre of town. You can’t miss it.
We drove home after hitting these farmers markets on Saturday (Cape Town is another hour and half from Hopefield), but you can continue the weekend escape. Stay on the West Coast. Paternoster is just half an hour away, we know 22 lovely spots in Paternoster for a summer break.
Click here to read our Breede River Valley road trip story.