(An SA Blog Beta post from Your Correspondent)
Part 5/6: Outdoor Fun
The splendor of the Swartland is held not just in its harvests of wheat and (extra splendid) grapes; it’s also got a big dome of African sky, and plenty to explore underneath it on foot.
The most decadent day outing from your base in Tulbagh is to the Klondyke Cherry Farm, about 50 kms to the west, via the fruit-producing town of Ceres. The farm is situated some way up the Swaarmoed Pass, which means, technically, that you’ve moved out of the Swartland and into the Kouebokkeveld – a region most famous for the fact that it gets snow in winter. The best time to visit is deepest summer, however (Nov – Dec), when Kondyke’s cherry trees are heavy with fruit, and you can wander among them, picking cherries of all colors, from dark plum to bright maraschino. Klondyke has picnic facilities, a campsite, and self-catering accommodation, too. Phone +27 (0) 23 312 1521 for more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Ceres tourism.
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Michell’s Pass connects Tulbagh with Ceres. It’s home not only to troops of baboons, but also good hiking trails. A favorite is the relatively light 8 km Toll House Trail, offering beautiful scenery and a place to picnic. Any baboons you might encounter on this trail will probably be quite timid – but don’t tempt them by displaying food!
Fossil hunting is perhaps the most unusual thing to do in the area. Slate rocks contain beautiful impressions of prehistoric ferns, coral and the occasional trilobite, and can be raked through under the hot sun at the Fort Tierkloof farm. Phone +27 (0) 23 358-2134 for more information.
One of the most comprehensive web pages for outdoor activities in the Swartland – from golfing to canoeing to fishing – is Ceres Tourism’s Summary of Attractions.
When you’ve returned to Tulbagh after a long, full day in the Swartland, the Shamrock & Thistle Pub on the Main Road should just be opening for you to slake your thirst. A perfect end to your adventure!