I do some Barrydale & Route 62 exploring

by Karisa

A few weeks ago I joined some friends on a little roadtrip to Barrydale.  Why?  Well why not really.  None of us had seen this little town and it sounded like a fun exploration mission.  So off we went.

Now Barrydale is situated on the tourist route called Route 62.  Route 62 which is actually named after the R62 regional route from Montagu to Humansdorp, connects the Western & Eastern Cape, running from Cape Town all the way down to my hometown, Port Elizabeth, and it is known as the more scenic alternative to the boring N2.

On the route you’ll pass other places like Worcester, Robertson, Ladismith, Zoar, Amalienstein, Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn and more, and along the way you can enjoy a host of activities ranging from wine tasting, safari drives & cultural tours to mountain climbing ,4×4 routes, horse or ostrich riding, fishing & caving.

Beautiful mountain ranges, stretched out winelands and big open spaces are also part of the deal…


Now it took us about 2 1/2 hours to get from Cape Town to Barrydale and once there, we checked into the Barrydale Karoo Hotel:

Here quirky is the name of the game.  With some weird & wonderful rooms and common areas, a cool little bar where locals seem to congregate and ‘n groot stoep where you can spend the day people watching.

I was lucky enough to stay in that top room which they call the Magpie room – it was specially designed by a local art studio called the Magpie Collective.  Loved it.

The hotel has some very interesting elements as it used to be owned by two very flamboyant & fun gay gentlemen.  I was a little disappointed to hear that they were no longer involved anymore, because from what we had read online, this was definitely the place to be when they were still running the show.  I couldn’t help but feel that they had taken a lot of the magic that was with them, but the staff are still so lovely & welcoming, that I soon got over that initial disappointment.

The hotel is also conveniently located, right across the road from another local hot spot…


Now an outing that was recommended by locals and the guys at the hotel was to the Barrydale hot springs aka Warmwaterberg Spa.

I was very excited as I’d never been to a hot spring before, and In my mind, it was going to look a little something like this:

Silverdale Rock Pool – photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

Sure, I had clearly hyped it up in my mind A LOT.  My bad, 100%.  But reality was a bit of a cruel b!tch, because in actual fact it just looked a little more like a public pool complex from the 80s:

Sad face…  they definitely need to look into a revamp.  Some rocks & mini waterfalls would jazz this place up instantly, don’t you think?

Montagu is actually also known for their hot springs, and that’s apparently nicer.  So I’ve put it down on my to do list to do a comparison at some time.

Now pretty much across the road from the entrance to the springs is the famous Ronnies Sex Shop.  Once just a regular old shop that wasn’t really doing too well, it was given a new lease on life when someone spray painted the word “sex” next to the name.  As you can imagine that piqued the interest of passers by quite a bit and soon it became the place for people to stop:

That’s Ronnie bottom left!

With a full bar and Roadkill diner (where you can also order some kick-ass spiked mikshakes btw), traditions at Ronnies include:  leaving your undies behind, leaving your autograph somewhere on a wall, ceiling or floor and sticking up your business card:

I got involved, except for the underwear part…

Back in Barrydale, cute bars are a plenty, so you can happily move from one to the next, meeting locals and having a laugh.

Just one example…

And for dinner we were told, the only place to go is a little place called Mez as they (and I quote) serve up the best food in town.

The place is be-a-u-ti-ful.  You feel like you’ve been transported to a Greek island in fact. The menu is small as it’s kinda a home run shop, so if you’re not into Mediterranean / North African style dishes, you’re gonna be stuck on choice.

I went for a lamb dish, which actually ended up a little bland, but the lamb was cooked well.  My friends weren’t blown away by their dishes either (we actually enjoyed the food at the hotel more), but we all agreed that this was definitely still a must see, just for the beautiful setting and really great feel of the place.

We still happily sat there for quite a few hours, sipping on wine (you have to bring your own as they don’t have a liquor licence) and having a fat chat to lovely owner, Michelle.

All ‘n all, we had a really fun time in Barrydale.  Within 2 days we had met pretty much everyone and they all made us feel so welcome.  (don’t you just love that about small towns)

The Route 62 bug has now gotten hold of me and I definitely want to do some more exploring in that area.  I reckon the picturesque Montagu might be next on my list. Apparently they won prettiest town in SA like 3 years running or something.  Sounds good to me…



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