Location: 184 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, on the N2 in the direction of Cape Town, taking the turn-off onto the R62 to Kareedouw, past Joubertina & Krakeel.
Date Visited: 20 -22 April 2012 (Fall)
Where we Stayed: Grootnek Guest Farm
What we Drove: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
What we did: we picked apples & pears, went off-roading, swam, had a picnic, went horse-back riding, fed the farm animals, played dominoes, did some quad-biking, cooked together, went for a long walk, talked a lot and explored Joubertina & Krakeel.
Recommendation: Grootnek Guest Farm is wonderful self-catering accommodation on a working Langkloof Farm. It is nestled between Joubertina & Krakeel, making it easy to explore the area. The Farm itself offers enough activities for the family who wants to be just on the farm for the weekend. The area is exceptionally beautiful with a unique character not found in other parts of the country.
It is seldom that I return from a journey, elated to be home.
There was that time in 2004 when I traveled to England & Ireland. I traveled on my own, without the rest of the Tribe. I was glad to be reunited with Zuko and our children. On that journey I learnt that traveling without them is not what my heart desires.
To travel as a Tribe is what we love.
To be together.
To taste alongside each other.
To experience collectively.
To see through each other’s eyes and watch each other do and encourage each other to risk & explore.
To create a history.
The last time I’d been to the Langkloof, only the hope of a Tribe existed, hidden somewhere inside of my being.
I was a student visiting friends.
It was nothing like this weekend.
The Langkloof is an enchanting world surrounded by mountains with early morning mist covering a patchwork of orchids & rolling white clouds spilling over from the ocean’s side in the late afternoon.
We’d been looking forward to this particular journey. It would be our first travel with our new Tribe-member a mere 17 days old.
Maddie took to traveling like a salted sailor takes to the ocean.
We left Nelson Mandela Bay just after lunch on Friday and returned late Sunday afternoon. Not once did she seem overwhelmed. She kept to her routine of feeding & sleeping regardless of whether we were picking apples or driving up the side of a mountain.
And we did both.
On Saturday morning we walked down rows & rows of apple trees, picking apples the size of little pumpkins from trees that could not possibly bear more fruit.
Then we slowly drove up the side of a mountain testing the capacity of our weekend wheels.
I’ve done my share of off-roading.
Vast thirstland plains.
Deep pools of water.
I’ve never done off-roading with a vehicle as comfortable as the Jeep Wrangler.
Or with a vehicle with an automatic transmission.
It was an easy climb to the peak.
Despite serious conditions expecting serious experience.
The Jeep Wrangler was more than capable.
It was magnificent to picnic on fresh apples & pears and the rest of the fair we packed earlier the morning, looking to the one side to see Tsitsikamma & ocean, looking to the other side to see the vast Langkloof with fruit trees as far as the horizon.
The drive down to the foot of the mountain was simple and without incident.
We had time for a cup of coffee and a quick nap before the children insisted we make our way to the cattle & horses.
Another traveler might’ve wanted to take the afternoon to play a round of golf at the nearby course or to explore the art-studios in Krakeel or Twee Riviere.
For this Tribe the animals always have a stronger pull.
As we walked between the old plum trees, taking in the smells of this world new to us, we talked of hopes & dreams.
Disappointments & making peace.
Every evening we cooked together.
Accommodation at Grootnek is self-catering & self-service.
It is clean.
It is affordable.
It has character.
And views that cannot be described.
Sunday morning the girls made us a fruit salad from our previous day’s pickings.
Theunsie tried the farm’s quad bike.
Zuko and Maddie & I had coffee & conversation.
Then we loaded the Jeep with our luggage and crates filled to the brim with fruit before heading to Louterwater where we would meet Alfrediene. She is family of a friend who grew-up in this mystical world in which children can eat as much fruit as their little bodies can handle.
Alfrediene has more gifts.
Preserves & jams.
Vegetables carefully tended in her own garden.
Some for us.
Some for our friend.
She cannot understand that anyone would want to live anywhere but in this world.
The Jeep is filled with the smell of freshness as we leisurely meander home.
We’re not elated when we get home.
We could’ve spent another week in the Langkloof.
We’ve met only some of the people whose world this is.
We’ve seen only glimpses.
But we were together.
And the only thing which inspires us to take on Monday is the hope of another journey, on which we can taste and share & discover alongside each other again.