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CAPE ROUTE 62 IN THE PRESS

Weekend Getaway: High flyers

2009-05-18

Claire Keeton gets her rocks off in Montagu
Another Day in Paradise is the name of the best route I climbed in Montagu — but it’s also a perfect description of our holiday in this rock-climbing (and wine tasting) Nirvana.

Not that we got around to the wine route.

With more than 300 bolted rock-climbing routes, Montagu is a destination any climber — or would-be climber — will enjoy.

I once did a year-long climbing trip around the world and Montagu rates alongside the most memorable sport crags we visited, beating both the carved-out limestone of Thailand’s beaches and the Red Rocks’ sandstone cliffs in the Californian desert, and the climbing here as good as anything at the famous crags around Waterval Boven.

Some of the Montagu crags, towering over rivers and sandy beaches, are also idyllic places for children to play.

However, the heat does limit where you climb or play and my super-cool fellow climbers — doctors Francois Venter and June Fabian and engineer Ela Romanowska and I — found ourselves chasing the shade.

Another Day in Paradise (22) is a seven-pitch route on Cogman’s Buttress, so lead climber Francois and I started early, while June and Ela generously baby sat and climbed other routes far below at Legoland crag.

By midday we were nearly 200m high with views across the river valley. Francois’s claim that he has a fear of heights is clearly unfounded and he was as high as I was when we topped out before a long abseil down.

Montagu also has traditional climbing routes without bolts but we concentrated on sport climbing. Between climbs we lunched in town at the Kloof Restaurant, a thatched, and child-friendly place — with a jungle gym and scooters — overlooking the river.

I liked the light lunches and pancakes best, and remained unconvinced by the too-sweet organic ginger ice cream.

De Bos Guest Farm, owned by Stuart Brown, who does fire walking, is the centre of climbing in Montagu and anyone wanting an adventure or to do a climbing course can contact him for a guided day out.


I know this historic town is famous for its wine estates, restaurants and coffee shops and maybe next time I’ll get to try them. But most of all, I’ll be going back for the climbing.


To contact De Bos call 023-614-2532 or visit www.debos.co.za.


If You Go ... Where it Is:
On the meandering Cape Route 62 at the foot of the Langeberg mountains overlooking peach and apricot orchards. The farm is close to Montagu (28km east of the town) and is on the way to the Klein Karoo.

Why Go There:
For a rock climbing and mountain-biking, or hot springs and wine-tasting trip, Montagu is exceptional.

Ravenna is a rural retreat which is also child-friendly with a playground, space for toddlers to run around, a pool and games room. With seven self-catering cottages, it is peaceful but not exclusive.

What it Has:
A photo studio and courses for aspirant artists to capture the landscapes and shifting light. Massages and beauty treatments are available on request.

What it’s Like:
Rosemary cottage, where I stayed, is attractive with views from the porch, but Lavender cottage, behind it, does not.

Rosemary was decorated in the colours of faded leaves and the single room was well designed and spacious enough.

The honeymoon cottage, Honeybush, is charming but the bedroom isn’t much bigger than the double bed.

The copious bathroom with a Victorian bath, outside shower and its seclusion in the forest are its most appealing features.

Thorntree is not ideal for a group of friends, with a tiny kitchen and small lounge. The patio area, with a built-in braai, got the most use for sundowners and meals.

The backpackers’ accommodation is in a converted stable which is clean and well equipped. The beds are hard but the outside shower is popular.

And the Food:
The farm breakfast was unremarkable, particularly compared to the freshly baked scones, decorative fresh fruit and well-cooked English breakfast served up by Die Boord in Montagu. But Ravenna does have a vegetable garden, thriving under the gaze of a scarecrow.

Rates:
Self-catering from R240 with single additions R40.

Getting There:
Drive on the N1 towards Paarl and at Worcester you take the R60 towards Robertson where you pick up the R62 through the valley to Montagu.

What There Is to See On the Way:
Countless wine farms — the R62 is billed as the longest wine route in the world — and you cross the Breede River, which has river rafting. This year a Zambezi shark was captured 5km up from the river mouth.

Contact:
Call Toinette du Toit on 082-924-7233. Email info@ravenna.co.za or visit www.ravenna.co.za.

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