Beautiful scenery, rolling hills covered in fynbos, citrus orchids, farmlands, white frothing streams, mountains on the horizon, forested valleys, interesting back roads, friendly people and countryside hospitality. These are all things you will find in the Gamtoos Valley. The best way to explore and get to know the Gamtoos Valley is to spend a weekend and see for yourself what this valley on the eastern doorstep of the Baviaanskloof has to offer. One of the quick fire ways to do this is the annual Gamtoos Tourism Adventure Drive. On Saturday morning we headed out to Loerie for our fourth Adventure Drive and we were joined by our friends Mr and Mrs Smith with their two littlies. For the second year now the Adventure Drive started at Loerie Ruskamp and included the area around Loerie and Hankey. We covered a distance of about 60 km with eight fun challenge stops along the way.
Our first stop for the day was in a wooded valley outside Hankey at InnieKloof. The challenge were to throw naartjies into containers to see how many points we scored. Each stop had a possible 100 points up for grabs and hitting that yellow crate in the middle would give you an automatic 50 points.
The route is set out very nicely so it's very hard to get lost. Unless you have a deaf and dumb navigator and you miss a turnoff. Luckily for us I'm not and we didn't. The valley is so beautiful though that I really don't think anybody would mind getting lost around here.
Stop number two was at the Hankey Golf Club. This 9 hole golf club apparently is one of the best local courses in this part of the Eastern Cape. We didn't have time to go a driving so ended up chipping for points awarded closest to the hole.
Our next stop was just outside of town below Vergaderingskop. This little koppie is where Sarah Baartman was buried in 2002 after her remains were repatriated from France. Across the road they are busy building a big cultural centre which I really hope will become a worthy attraction in the valley. The point was manned by the guys from SANCCOB in Cape St Francis and a steady hand was needed to get a high score over here.
The route then hit one of the back roads. This is truly what the Adventure Drive is about. Discovering and exploring. We didn't need an excuse to stop and enjoy the scenery though. The next challenge was on hand. I did grab the camera for a pic of the rolling hills with the Cockscomb Mountains in the distance before it was jukskei time.
Jukskei you ask? Yes, jukskei. Jukskei is a 270 year old Afrikaner folk sport and said to be the forerunner of American Horseshoe Pitching. The sport is believed to have started around 1743 in the Cape and was developed by transport riders traveling with ox-wagons. They used the wooden pins of the yokes - Skei in Afrikaans - of the oxen to throw at a stick that was planted into the ground. The game was also played during the Great Trek and became an organized sport around 1939. Let's just say I came close to hitting the stick a few times and only scored with the last throw. Needless to say, I suck at Jukskei.
From Spekboom Lapa we followed the road via Melon and along the Gamtoos River to the Gamtoos Ferry Hotel were another "traditional" sport was awaiting us. A bit of egg and spoon racing. Humpty Dumpty sat on a spoon...
The route took us back towards Loerie and up to the Loerie Dam. Here it was time for... the one activity that comes up each and every year. The obligatory and compulsory, Kududrolspoeg. And for those who doesn't understand Afrikaans or who have never heard of it. Spitting kudu dung pellets as far as you can.
I've gotten used to it over the years and stick those pellets in my mouth with no hesitation. This year was the first time Drama Princess did it though and it was an Oscar winning performance.
Actually, she wasn't quite the only one in the running. There were also great nominations for Chaos Boy, the Damselfly and Mrs Smith.
The last stop of the day was at the Koekepanne Farmstall on the road between Loerie and Hankey. By now we were on a roll and could smell the end. The activities got completed and we bundled back in the car for the last drive up the road to Loerie Ruskamp.
After the race everybody got together for lunch while the calculations were done to determine the finishing order. All the points as well as the times were fed to the computer and then it was time to announce the winners. One of the great things about the day is that everybody are winners and that each competitor gets something. The names are called out in order of final scores and you then walk up to the prize table and choose your prize. The Gamtoos Tourism members and other businesses in the valley comes on board in a big way and makes it worth everybody's while. I'm really hoping to see bigger numbers enter next year though.
We've already marked the date in our diaries for next year and be sure that we will be back to explore the valley a little bit more.