A Highland fling – South Africa

It’s an early start to the South African border as once again our guide Kanyo has warned up that they can, and do, completely tear apart the truck if they’re in the mood. Thankfully they’re not so it doesn’t come to that, though our hopes are nearly dashed as we’re randomly stopped by a guard…who just wanted to know if we could give him a lift.

Driving trough wine country
Wine country of South Africa

Driving trough wine country
Wine country of South Africa

Wine country of South Africa

Up and over undulating green hills the, Olifants river meandering through the valley below, we’re headed for Namaqualand and another favourite of the overland truck tours, Highlanders. A campsite come vineyard the owner Sparky was himself an ex tour leader who’s now hung up the boots in exchange for a beautiful location and family to suit.  Pitched up on a carpet of grass (until you’ve done a 73 day camping trip you might struggle to understand the luxurious feeling of grass between the toes) with a fire place nearby we wait in anticipation to test the plonk. By the time the other slow overland truck (Intrepid) eventually roll in we’re chomping at the bit as we get down to business.

IMG_5884 - Copy
Highlanders Campsite

Last campsite of the 73 day journey.
View from our tent at Highlanders Campsite

Last campsite of the 73 day journey.
Highlanders Campsite, beneath the Cedarberg Mountains

Moving to the top of the property where the pool, BBQ, bar and pool table are, we park our butts on a picnic bench with a captivating vista over the Klawer Wine region with the Cedarburg Mountains in the distance framing the landscape. Producing wines in combination with other small grape producers under the Klawer Cellars label we start the tasting with the Chenin Blanc, which we found to be very drinkable, especially in the hot climate.

The Pool at Highlander Campsite
Enjoying the view from the pool at Highlanders Campsite

Wine tasting with Sparky.
Wine tasting with Sparky at Highlanders

Next up was the Pinotage. The signature wine of South Africa it was first grown in 1925 as a cross between the Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (or Hermitage) grapes and is one that they make very well. Next up was the Shiraz, followed by a sweet Rose, a refreshing Sparkling Rose, finishing off with a unique African Ruby Rooibos Vermouth. Infused with Rooibos tea and the Buchu herb it offers a spicy lingering aftertaste so good several bottles were sold. It’s also known for its healing properties leading us to the question…

‘Can we have a second?’

Finishing up we grab a bottle of the Chenin Blanc for the final episode of the history of the African Tribes, begun several weeks back by our guide, around the camp fire that night – Enter the white man. With only six of us left on the tour Matt once again gets to cook the steaks, something he has mad skills for (or so he reckons).

Ben the friendly Rhodesian Ridge-back at Highlanders

Wine Tasting
Wine tasting at Highlanders

Wine tasting
Wine connoisseurs in the making at Highlanders

Finishing the stories and the marshmallows it’s all back up to the bar for some pool table action as we spend the night shooting the breeze with Sparky about the past, present and future.  Waking up a little dusty the next morning a shower with the best views since Jinja, Uganda has us happily distracted as we wash away last night with great views over the vineyards.  And it’s much needed as our next destination, Stellenbosch, has more wine tasting in store.

Thanks for reading, you can check out our more of our travel photos on Flickr here if you like!



Tips for Highlanders

  1. The wine tasting for our group of 10 cost around £5 per person including all of the wines shown above.
  2. A bottle of the lush Chenin Blanc cost under £5, you can’t go wrong!
  3. Sparky has some great life stories to tell, sit down and have a chat with him, he’s a top bloke.
  4. Ben the dog may scare the shit out of you at first with his pure size but he’s nothing but a big cuddly softy.



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