Important: If you want to do a day trip for the flowers in the coming weeks (Sept&Oct) you can loop back to Cape Town via Fraserburg->Ceres.
Much like I took the R62 route on the way down to Cape Town, I took the R63 back to Colesberg. It passes north of the Tankwa Karoo, where Afrikaburn is held.
The route I took was from:
1. Clanwilliam to Calvinia (via the Pakhuis and Botterkloof passes)
2. to Williston
3. to Fraserberg
4. to Loxton
5. to Victoria West
6. to the N1, and onwards to Colesberg.
There are a few interesting passes, the first of which is the Piekenierskloof Pass before Citrusdal. It closely follows the route originally built by a road engineer, Thomas Charles John Bain before he got famous. He followed in his father’s footsteps, engineering 3 times as many mountain passes, for a total of 24 passes, and did it in the late 1800s by horseback and cart! Talk about one tough son of a bitch! Which makes me wonder how tough the prison labour he used was?
Looking back down the pass:
and up ahead
Further on the route is another of Bain’s passes, the Pakhuis Pass, which he completed while completing 4 other passes at the same time. Looking backwards:
Further ahead on Pakhuis Pass, looking ahead:
Looking down into the valley on the other side of the Pakhuis Pass:
The scenery starts getting impressive:
The route turns to dirt road after the crossing of the R364 and the turnoff to Wupperthal/Bidouwvallei:
However, unknown to me at the time of travel, about 100m back is the Englishman’s Grave, which is the main attraction in a story of an English mother traveling across the world to erect a grave for her son, killed in action in 1901. That would have been a steamship journey, then across terrain that wasn’t nearly as passable as it is now. (Source)
Here’s a streetview screenshot of the grave (streetview ends shortly thereafter)
Continue along the dirt road and onwards to the Botterkloof Pass. It’s little more than a path carved into mountain, with some gravel on top. It’s really impressive to drive! There is so little info about Botterkloof pass on the internet. Just a few traveler diaries consisting of 1-2 photos before descending into martian moonscapes.
Looking backwards somewhere towards the end of Botterkloof Pass:
but it continues up again:
Then just keep following the dirt road along the R364:
Mid September and already pretty flowers:
When you reach Calvinia, take some photos but just keep on passing through (according to internet feedback). It’s a very Afrikaans area, has 80% starlight at night, and is renowned for the flowers in summer (Source). There is also an asteroid named after it.
From Williston, take the R353 towards Fraserburg and you’ll start to see the familiar Tankwa Karoo landscape again.
I didn’t take too many rest stops again until shortly before Kuilfontein which is just before Colesberg. Got some great sunset shots:
Thunderclouds loomed on the horizon, however the storm never reached Colesberg/Kuilfontein, it just lingered through the evening, lightning shooting through it like veins.