Running parallel to the Garden Route, Route 62 is less well-known, but a great alternative to the coastal road, taking you through desert landscapes and over mountain passes. The scenery is just as stunning as its coastal neighbour, with some interesting stops along the way, such as Oudshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world, the spectacular Cango Caves and the chance for a meerkat experience.
Despite its proximity to the lush green Garden Route with its stunning coastal views, the scenery of Route 62 could not be more different. The roads meander through dry desert landscape and we’d suggest combining Route 62 with the Garden Route, as it makes for visually striking contrast. The route starts in Cape Town, and passes through small towns before ending in Outshoorn, just before the Garden Route.
The main settlement along the way is Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. The town first came to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, during the ostrich feather boom. At that time, a farmer could gain more money from a tonne of ostrich feathers, than a tonne of gold. For ostrich lovers we can arrange a visit to a farm, where you can learn how the birds are farmed, bred and reared for feathers, leather and meat.
This area is also known for its colony of meerkats and we’d recommend a sunrise trip, where you can see these shy creatures emerging from their burrows with their families as the sun comes up. Be warned though, they don’t like the cold and wet, so are unlikely to venture out on inclement days.
Another popular attraction in the area is the Cango Caves – a chain of underground calcite caves, which are regarded as some of the world’s finest. Measuring over 4 kilometres, only around a quarter of the caves are accessible to the public and only as part of an organised tour. It is hoped that these measures will help to preserve their condition.
Wildlife enthusiasts might want to consider spending a night or two in Sabona Wildlife Reserve in the heart of the Little Karoo. Guests can enjoy game drives and walking trails in this Big Five reserve, along with exploring ancient rock art sites, dating back over 3,000 years.
For those who want the best of both worlds, we recommend driving along Route 62 from Cape Town, before dropping down onto the Garden Route at George. Road conditions are excellent and there are plenty of friendly owner-run properties along the route, where you can unwind and reflect on the day’s beautiful drive.