POETRY IN A WINE BOTTLE
National Geographic Traveller India|July - August 2021
A road trip along South Africa’s stunning Route 62 leads an ocean and-wine enthusiast to unexpected small-town treats
VIKAS PLAKKOT

The words of Irish poet W.B. Yeats, sensuously chronicled in the poem “A Drinking Song,” reverberate in my ears when I think of the days I spent behind the wheel, traipsing through dainty South African towns along Route 62—often dubbed the world’s longest wine route. For the oenophiles, this 1000-kilometer-long road trip between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town is nothing less than bottled poetry.

If South Africa’s tourism offerings were to be a museum, the coastal vistas of the Garden Route would be its “Mona Lisa,” and the safaris of the West, its “Starry Night.” But in a corner, far from the madding crowd would be a room showcasing Route 62, where one can experience every whim and fancy from Pollockesque wilderness to Daliesque intrigue, replete with bottles of reds, bubblies, and pinks.

The experiences on this route span a wide spectrum—an intimate tango with ostriches, a brush with human history at the Cango Caves, soulful intoxication at wine centres like Calitzdorp and Robertson, a complete detox from the bustle in boutique estate stays, and so on.

PORT ELIZABETH AND WILDERNESS

The first stretch of the road trip straddles South Africa’s craggy coastline, starting in the historic city of Port Elizabeth and culminating in the beachside town of Wilderness, 308 kilometers/ 3.5 hours away. While PE’s urban beaches are blue-flagged, I recommend getting out of the city onto the highway at the get-go to savour this route’s unique delights. This picturesque drive is the only part of Route 62 that intersects with its famous cousin, the Garden Route. So, devour all the ocean vistas on offer by making innumerable stops along the way, none more recommended than a lazy lunch of delectable oysters at Knysna’s harbor.

Further westward, Wilderness is a twee seaside town with long stretches of powdery white-sand beaches, river lagoons, and lookout points featuring majestic views of the Indian Ocean. Go on a small kayak adventure along the river, catch an unforgettable view of the entire Milky Way.

The sunset from the beach, and retreat for the night in a beach house to lap up the panorama. And then head inland for the rest of the trip. If you find yourself here on a moonless night like I did, don’t forget to look up for an unforgettable view of the entire Milky Way.

OUDTSHOORN AND CALITZDORP

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIAView All

WEEKENDER HARKING BACK TO SHERKIN

Even during Covid times, Sherkin Island—a tiny community off the coast of West Cork, Ireland—remains a magnet for unconventional, artistic types  

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

THE BEAR TRUTH

UKRAINE’S BEAR SANCTUARY DOMAZHYR IS A HAVEN FOR RESCUE WILDLIFE, AND AN ECO-EDUCATIONAL CENTRE FOR VISITORS

1 min read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

Vanderlust

Indians are back on the road and we have the 9 coolest campervan circuits across the country for every traveller

8 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

ROOM AT THE TOP

The mountain property’s humble hospitality is an invitation to experience the local way of life

5 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

Rain in Slovenia's Plains

Driving from Ljubljana through to Bled and Bohinj, two happy campers hike, canoe and amble along until weather plays spoilsport

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

PATHS UNKNOWN WITH LAURIE WOOLEVER

ANTHONY BOURDAIN’S LIEUTENANT ON CO-AUTHORING A BOOK WITH HIM AFTER HIS DEATH, THE TONY LEGACY, AND SPONTANEITY V/S PREPARATION IN TRAVEL

10+ mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

OF SALT & STARS

THE DRAMATIC MOONSCAPES OF CHILE’S ATACAMA DESERT ARE ANYTHING BUT VACANT. DOTTED WITH RUINS AND RICHLY TATTOOED WITH ANCIENT PETROGLYPHS, THIS HIGH-ALTITUDE PLAYGROUND, POPULAR WITH ADVENTUROUS TRAVELLERS, IS ALSO A REPOSITORY OF STORIES. HIKE INTO MINERAL-COATED CANYONS AND CAMP OUT UNDER BRILLIANT NIGHT SKIES TO DISCOVER HOW THIS ARID LANDSCAPE OFFERS A GATEWAY TO THE PAST

10+ mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

Arunachal's Thunder Road

A 10-day journey along the Trans-Arunachal Highway puts a writer’s driving to the test, revealing one surprising twist after another

7 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

Best List: Hong Kong's Swanky Sleepovers

Between the steely skyscrapers and lush greenery, Hong Kong’s hotels are some of the finest in Asia, and with new openings and revamps across the city, the hotel scene is more spectacular than ever before 

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

The Mountains Are Calling For Help

A fragile Himachal Ecology, cornered by climate change, mindless tourism and unplanned development,is begging for intervention

7 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021