It was a clear and cool day that dawned on the 11th December 2018. A curious crowd had begun to gather at the start point, ogling the assembled cars…
Lotus 7’s, an Aston Martin, an exclusive to South Africa Alfa GTV6, Harper Type 5’s, a Lotus Elise, a GT40 replica – and an equally varied assortment of drivers and passengers.
Greeting friends old and new, a camaraderie peculiar to those self-confessed petrol heads embarking on a road trip. This was the scene at the start of the second Harper Sports Cars Passes Tour.
Somewhat akin to herding cats, the participants were rounded up and briefed on the plans for the day –
Starting with a gentle drive to Greyton via some of the most delightful driving roads – Hellshoogte, Franschoek pass and the back roads to the N2.
Greyton saw the group stop for breakfast and deeper discussion on the merits of one another’s choice of ride. There was of course the obligatory photo shoot for the residents of Greyton, unaccustomed to the roar of sports cars in such numbers.
On then to Barrydale for the mandatory milkshake at Diesel and Crème, then a short hop to Ronnies Sex Shop – where the Harpers duly obliged with a display of delicately shaped tail ends! The final hop of the day saw everyone push on to Oudtshoorn and De Rust. Checking in to the official headquarters for the Passes Project, House Martin Guest Lodge, a welcome cold drink was in prospect – but, petrol heads being petrol heads, the lure of the Meiringspoort section of the N12 was too great to resist, and there were several runs back and forth between the canyon walls before finally calling an end to the driving exploits for the day.
Our hosts, Theresa and Jan laid on a traditional Klein Karoo braai (note to our foreign readers – a barbeque is NOT the same as a braai!), and road trip stories began. Gathering around the pool, firm friendships were formed, technical details discussed, and some tall stories told. Holding forth until the late-night hours, several of the party were to be a little the worse for wear on day 2…
An early start for all had the group meet in the primary viewpoint within the Meiringspoort canyon (if you have never seen this, it is an archeological wonder – bucket list stuff!) we watched the early morning sun creep into view on the rocky promontories. Drivers and passengers swapped cars, with the absolute lack of fuss that marks true trust and the companionship of old friends.
Setting up a series of photo shoots, video clips and drone filming the order of the day, all chipped in and made the most of the opportunity. Back to the guest house for a bumper breakfast (driving is hungry making work!), a new route was proposed for the eager crews, and all set out to Oudtshoorn via Dysseldorp, and on to the stunning road that is the Outeniqua pass to George. Let it be said that this is one of the finest mountain passes one can experience in an open sports car!
From George, a quick left turn put us on the 7 Passes Road taking us to Wilderness. Tight and twisty, with overhanging branches and narrow bridges, the 7 Passes Road requires the full attention of the driver at all times, and rewards those driving the smaller more nimble cars with an absolutely immersive experience. Breaking for lunch in Wilderness had an appreciative crowd nosing around the parking lot and asking questions of the drivers as to the why, where and how of driving their trusty steeds.
Back up the Outeniqua pass we went, running into light rain as we approached the crest – nothing to worry about, but a refreshing change from the blistering heat of earlier in the day! A parade formation through the streets of Oudtshoorn meant much waving to the crowds lining the streets of the town, and the cameras were out to capture the moment for all concerned.
Even on the inevitable stop and go roadwork interruptions, we found ourselves the target of amateur photographers – and curious fellow road users wanting to know more.
Late afternoon found us driving back into De Rust – and straight through towards THAT poort. Somehow Meiringspoort has a magnetic attraction, and once again it didn’t disappoint. For most of the team, the promise of a hot shower and a cold beverage soon meant we were soon back at the guest house. Our hosts had excelled themselves with a formal buffet dinner, and once again friends regaled each other with tales of the day’s exploits. The consensus at the end of day 2 was that this was a success worth repeating.
Day three, and the journey home in prospect – thanks to Theresa and Jan for being the perfect hosts, and fond farewells as some of the adventurers headed out in different directions. We pushed on to Barrydale, and experienced the first technical failure of the outing, when an electrical failure left Red Roxy stranded outside Diesel and Crème! Nothing like a double thick milkshake to put things in perspective.
All in all, a wonderful road trip with memories that are indelibly etched in the minds of all who were fortunate enough to join us on the trip. I am looking forward to the next edition with great anticipation, hoping to meet new friends, travel new roads and create more memorable moments!