About Self Drive Laingsburg to Ladismith

Route: Laingsburg, Seweweekspoort, Amalienstein, Zoar, Hoeko Valley, Ladismith
Description: explore the rolling hills and sandstone peaks of the Klein Swartberg range, south of the Karoo plains
Length: roughly 230 km
Time: a day
Overnight: Ladismith, Route 62

Laingsburg is famous for having survived a flashflood during 1981, and is worth exploring, if only for the few Victorian buildings with corrugated-iron roofs down a number of the side streets. If you do nothing else, whilst in Laingsburg, visit the library on the Main Road for the town's local history.

This route takes the R323 south of town, passing a turn-off to the Floriskraal Dam on your left, and a little later a road to Ladismith, on your right (you will return using this road).

Much of the initial drive hugs the hills of the Karoo, but at around 30 km outside of Laingsburg you emerge to clear views of the Klein Swartberg. This is one of the most scenic drives through the Karoo, and shortly afterwards, some 23 km later, a series of unusual rocky outcrops loom to your left. Around now the road turns to gravel.

Ahead of you is the Seweweekspoort.

At roughly 83 km outside of Laingsburg, the road turns right to the north entrance of the Seweweekspoort (you can't miss it as it is well signposted). Here too are the ruins of the old Toll House, built in 1877 and in use until 1918, rumoured to house the ghost of one of the first toll-gate keepers.

Seweweekspoort is one of the most inspiring and spectacular of the country's ravines, a rugged and beautiful gravel road that closely follows the course of the river through the towering sandstone folds of the Klein Swartberg Mountains.

The pass stretches for 17 km, crossing the Huis River many times.

Exit the poort at a t-junction with the old mission village of Amalienstein opposite you. Take a right in the direction of Hoeko, passing the mission village of Zoar on your left. In these hills are the only rock paintings in the world of mermaids. Take a detour to Zoar to see the Lutheran Church.

You are now on Route 62, the world's longest wine route and one of the most popular routes in the country.

Hoeko is seldom visited. It lies in a particularly fertile valley that produces a number of soft fruit – apricots, peaches, plums, olives, grapes and figs in particular. It is also where the Afrikaans author and poet CJ Langenhoven is said to be born.

Roughly 10 km after leaving Seweweekspoort, take a right for Hoeko. On your right, about 2.2 km later, is the farmhouse regarded as his birthplace, also believed to be the original homestead in the valley, built in 1810.

Continue along this road through the Hoeko Valley to Ladismith. It is a particularly beautiful drive, making a loop above Route 62. Enter Ladismith roughly 10 km later (130 km from Laingsburg).

Dominating the town are the twin peaks of Towerkop. The town was originally named Ladysmith, but since there are two in the country (the other is in KZN), it changed to Ladismith.

Drive along Church Street for a number of lovely buildings. Stay awhile, as there is plenty to do. It is a good place to overnight, and possibly hike the next morning.

Drive west out of town via Van Riebeeck Street, passing the old Jewish synagogue and a number of vineyards and irrigated fields.

You are once again on the R323. When it junctions, take a right and cross the Groot River. Continue up along this route, passing a left to Montagu (an option if you have the time), and entering a gorge. After the gorge take a left for Laingsburg at the t-junction. You have now rejoined the R323 on which you left Laingsburg.

Need to Know

WhereRoute: Laingsburg, Seweweekspoort, Amalienstein, Zoar, Hoeko Valley, Ladismith

WhenBest during daylight hours.

How muchFree

OvernightThe closest town is Laingsburg, in Western Cape

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