The standard response to my, “We’re off to Ladismith this weekend,” is: “Where’s Ladismith? Isn’t that in KwaZulu-Natal?!”
No, it isn’t. Ladismith (with an ‘i’) is a little town on Route 62 in the Klein Karoo that is set against the striking Klein Swartberg Mountains (read this awesome photoblog about road-tripping the R62.) It happens to be part of an area that is so often overlooked by travellers as they drive past to more renowned and better marketed destinations.
At first glance, the town itself is admittedly somewhat disappointing. It doesn’t beg people to stop or stay and hasn’t quite managed to rustle up the quaintness that some of its Klein Karoo counterparts have, like De Rust or Barrydale, for example. Yet, judging the Ladismth district by the town itself, one that is still finding its tourism feet, isn’t entirely fair. There is so much more that the immediate area has to offer; one just has to look for it off the main tourist track.
Locals might argue that Ladismith’s claim to fame is the impressive Towerkop Peak (2189 metres) that dominates the landscape or the fact that it’s home to the same Ladismith Cheese one finds in local supermarkets. I’d argue that it’s a lot more than that.
A drive along the back roads to the Hoeko, Dwarsrivier and Voorbaat valleys reveals pockets of mountains-meets-Klein-Karoo magic. You feel as though you are entering into secret pieces of countryside that defy time and beg you to stay, explore or simply relax. What I love the most is that because of the scarcity of water, the landscape hasn’t been completely dominated by agriculture. It is still easy enough to find yourself on a little hill in middle of unspoiled Karoo scrub absorbing the incredible vistas, all to the melodic sounds of one or more of the 180 bird species that inhabit the area.
This countryside is ripe for relaxation and meditation, but that’s not the whole story. There are plenty of activities for the more adventurous among us, including some decent climbing, hiking, biking and 4X4 trails. For the more mellow excursions, there are also some remarkable scenic drives in the greater area and great wine tasting is on offer at boutique wine estate, Hillock Wines.
Upcoming events include the Seweweeksport Mountain Bike Challenge followed by the Ladismith Cheese and Wine Festival, both taking over the weekend of the 11th – 13th October. If mountain biking is up your alley, entries for the race are open until the 4th October.
Ladismith has accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets. Here are a few of my favourite country getaways in the area: places that come standard with incredible views of the rolling Klein Karoo hills or the Klein Swartberg Mountains.
Click here for more great accommodation options in the Ladismith area and if you do make the effort to spend some time here, I doubt you will be disappointed! The area has a unique tendency to lure you back for more.
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