Saturday, April 30, 2011

Langberg to Osfontein Corbelled House

 Friday morning was an early start again, heading out across the koppie half an hour before sunrise.  Thick grass, dark rocks, thorn bushes, and no paths don't make it easy to clamber over koppies in the pre-dawn light. Its a chilly morning again, I brought the fleece and jacket, but didn't think I would need the gloves. Standing around waiting for the sun to rise, especially when the wind blows, isn't the warmest of occupations. Looking around, I see a hint of clouds, but sadly behind me, not where the camera is pointing! Not useful for this morning, but at least it gives gives me hope that more will come. I think I heard something on the weather report before I left that a cold front would be coming up from Cape Town. That's not good for the cold, but might bring some interesting clouds. A couple of pics from that session:

Langberg Guest Farm pre-sunrise
Langberg Guest Farm pre-dawn
Langberg Guest Farm sunrise
Langberg Guest Farm sunrise
Langberg Guest Farm early morning

Then its back to the farm, an excellent farmstyle breakfast, and pay up, and I'll be on my way.  They have a pretty sophisticated set-up at this farm - I'm able to pay with Credit card! It will be very different in the ones to come.

Heading off at 9 am (minus one pair of fancy sunglasses, which got nicked at Magersfontein) I get on the R357, through Douglas, to Prieska. It's a bit potholed at first, then becomes a very nice road, and I make good time to Prieska. The biggish trees of the highveld grasslands were gradually making way for smaller bushes, and the grassland becoming sparser and more scrubby. At Prieska I thought I might stop for drink and lunch at a coffee shop, but turns out Prieska is one of those towns where loads of people are just hanging around town doing nothing, quite a few walking along with their beer bottles. I'm sure there's a pleasant enough coffee shop somewhere, but leaving my car on the street with expensive camera gear inside wasn't appealing, so I left again and stopped at a lay-bye outside town for a stretch.

Keeping south again, in the direction of Carnarvon, I soon hit the dirt road, which was to last most of the remaining 200km. It was actually a pretty good road, of course barely any traffic, and easy to stop along the way to check out any candidate photo opportunity.   At last a few hills appeared south of Prieska, and it also wasn't long before I noticed the clouds building up - hurray! I had to stop and take a picture of an otherwise un-spectacular scene.

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But it then became flat, long and pretty dull.
Karoo scrub
You may ask ""what am I supposed to see in this picture?'". Well, nothing really, that's the whole point, the Karoo is full of lots and lots of scrubby nothingness. In case you don't believe me, try driving on these roads - many kilometers of straight roads, an occasional turn, and then out it stretches again into the barren landscape.
Karoo open road
Karoo open road

Karoo Windmill R386
Karoo Windmill

I'm not surprised that when this chap found water in this nothingness, he got a bit over-excited when naming his windmill!

Fortunately, there are some interesting sites to break the monotony. This one is a salt pan of some sort, it is actually being mined just out of the picture on the left.

Karoo Salt Pan R386
Karoo Salt Pan
Finally arrived in Carnarvon, which looks like quite a bit of effort has beem made by quite a few residents to restore and look after their old karoo homes. I didn't have time to stop and expore, but will have to come back tomorrow. Back on the tar road south towards Loxton, the turn-off to my next destination - Osfontein Corbelled Guest house- came up quickly.

It's run by a lovely couple - Natascha and Stegmann Lubbe- who invited me into the farmhouse for coffee, and to catch a re-run of Kate and William's wedding! But the accomodation is what brought me here - they have very successfully restored an old corbelled house on their farm. These are houses that were built in parts of the karoo by trekboers  in the early 1800s. With very little building material available in the desolate karoo, they built these houses from smallish pieces of flat stone. Round or square walls, then an igloo shaped roof, made with overlapping stones, using a clay as a mortar. There are still several standing on various farms, mostly further south west, and a bit too far for this trip. But a very authentic stay-over, and fantastic people. Stegmann even herded his sheep especially for me to take photos (where do you want me to move them to? And his sheepdogs moved the heard into the right place!). He told me this season they've had the most rain since 1974, so his dam is full, the grass is still quite long, and he seems happy with the result.

Some pics from his farm follow:

Osfontein Guest Farm koppies
Osfontein Guest Farm
Osfontein Guest Farm koppies

Osfontein Guest Farm windmill at twilight
Osfontein Windmill by twilight
Osfontein Corbelled House inside by candlelight
Osfontein Corbelled House by candlelight
Osfontein Guest Farm koppies before sunrise
Osfontein Guest Farm before dawn
Osfontein Guest Farm koppies at sunrise

Osfontein Corbelled House
Osfontein Corbelled House

Osfontein Guest Farm early morning in the koppies

Osfontein Corbelled House
Osfontein Corbelled House

Now it's off the the next farm. I had to take a diversion through Beaufort West to get to a chemist in a hurry (a tooth infection starting) and to get cell phone coverage. I don't know yet whether I will have coverage at the next place, let's see!

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