Padstal nation

Prepping for the great migration in December? Try these stop-off places along the road

Written by Peter Frost

Leisure Wheels, in partnership with Toyota, has been scouting some of the best stop-off spots along the various holiday routes in preparation for the upcoming holiday season. In the first of the series, we highlight three backroad favourites as well as a stalwart of the N1.

Karoo Art Hotel

The route: The R62 from Ashton to Oudtshoorn is a prettier, less busy alternative to both the N1 and N2, routing through Montagu, Barrydale and Calitzdorp.

The stop: The Karoo Art Hotel was recently bought by the team behind bespoke safari outfitters Melvill and Moon and Sue has brought her unique sense of design, flair and creativity to the Victorian edifice. The Deli is out the front on the pillared stoep, there’s a pub next door and a more formal restaurant in the rear courtyard. The deli specialises in breakfasts, with an excellent bakery, and a good salad selection.

Look out for: Try the Cajun chicken bagel or soup of the day, made with ingredients from the garden.

30 Van Riebeek Street, Barrydale.

Kuilfontein Farm Stall

The route: The N1 section between Colesberg and Bloemfontein is gruesome, with little in the way of stop-offs. Kuilfontein is at Springfontein, 87km from Colesberg and 150km from Bloemfontein, so plan carefully.

The stop: Six generations of Staples have looked after the Kuilfontein farm over the years, Martinette and Shelton the latest duo to carry the load (there is also accommodation on offer). And Elsa Oerson, who regular visitors will know well, and is retiring at the end of this year. Kuilfontein is known for its wide veranda and its delicious pies. They’re also the collection point for many of the local artists, bakers and bottlers – you’ll find every kind of biscuit, jam, bread and artwork at Kuilfontein.

Look out for: Kuilfontein milkshakes are legendary, as are their slapchips.

N1 Springfontein.

Oppie Vlak Padstal

The route: The N9 is a popular routing through Graaff-Reinet and the Camdeboo to Plettenberg Bay from Colesberg on N1.

The stop: Oppie Vlak is 40km from Willowmore and 77km from Aberdeen, in the middle of nothing at all. That’s its appeal – no town, no noise, no traffic. San-Marie van der Bijl makes a mean rosterkoek, the coffee is real, food is excellent, there’s a shop and the views are incredible, even from the bathroom. San-Marie is an animal lover of note and a Kusa registered dog breeder, everything it seems from spaniels to Yorkies. Her current obsession is birds, many of which are on show or scratching around in the dust.

Look out for: Oppie Vlak’s milk tart stops traffic, literally; a couple walked in during our visit saying their son had been bleating about ‘Oppie’s tert’ since Colesberg.

N9, 40km from Willowmore.

The Tall Goose, Cape Karoo Ostrich Emporium

The route: Oudtshoorn is at the junction of the R62, N12 and the R328 to the Swartberg Pass, popular with adventurers coming in from the Swartberg and Gamka Mountains as well as tourers on the way to George.

The stop: Johan Breunissen’s Tall Goose (ostrich, geddit?), is part of his Ostrich Emporium on Rademeyer Street. As he says, the man likes to open shops (he opened the Beans About Coffee franchise in town in 2015 and plans to open a new crumpet eatery in the old wagon maker building soon). This latest offering plays to his strengths – broad menu, plenty of elbow room to move, kid-friendly, trendy, something of a lateral take on food.

Look out for: The breakfast shakshuka is a must, as are his ostrich samosas.

Cnr Rademeyer/Langenhoven streets (R62), Oudtshoorn.

The car

Toyota Corolla Cross XR Hybrid

Toyota’s popular Cross makes good sense as a touring car, especially in hybrid version, which managed an average of 6,2l/100km for the 2600km trip. Fuel efficiency was one aspect; it also shone as a load carrier (it is substantially bigger than its Corolla sedan namesake) and as a relaxed, quiet cruiser. On the dirt it was high enough, sure-footed and stayed rattle-free, good to know but not unexpected – it’s made in South Africa and was hot and cold weather tested in our own ovens and freezers. There were quirks – a tiny 36-litre fuel tank on the hybrid (the conventional 1.8-litre models have a 47-litre tank) means the range isn’t all it could be, and the adaptive cruise control takes some getting used to. On balance, Cross hits the sweet spot – big enough, capable enough off-road, good-looking, well equipped and decent to drive. Little wonder it’s selling like hotcakes.

See the full review on our sister site CAR, here.

Fast facts

Engine: 4-cylinder 1.8-litre petrol-electric, 90kW, 142+e Nm

Performance: 0-100kph 9 seconds, 170kph

Economy: 6,2l/100km, fuel tank 36 litres, range +-500km

Price: R461 700