Gamkaskloof (Die Hel)
Die Hel is a unique village that time has forgotten, in a beautiful green valley of lush vegetation and surrounded by the Swartberg mountains. Part of the Swartberg Nature Reserve, it’s run by Cape Nature and is very remote with no way of getting out the other side.
The road, off the Swartberg Pass is 48km long and takes approximately 2.5 hours to navigate! It’s best attempted in a 4×4 or high-clearance vehicle and is pretty awe-inspiring for not only the views, but it’s switchbacks and hair pin bends. It’s sand all the way and certainly not a road to be travelled at night or in bad weather.
The temperatures here are ferociously hot in summer and freezing in winter!
Cape Nature have restored the former locals’ houses into basic self-catering accommodation. There is no electricity – the few lights in the cottage and the fridge are run off solar power – and hence no way of charging cell phones or laptops. Some people’s idea indeed of Hell, but it forces one to unwind and relax.
Boplaas Guest Cottages – these self-catering cottages are situated on a private road at the western side of Die Hel. We stayed in Oom Hannes which has been beautifully restored and is surrounded by lush gardens. A small plunge pool can be found alongside the cottage for cooling off on hot days and swimming under starry skies at night.
The village also boasts a few campsites with large, shady stands and clean abolutions with warm water for showering.
There is a basic, licensed restaurant offering breakfasts and lunches. It forms part of the shop building which only sells wood and preserved fruit, so you need to bring any food in with you for additional meals.
There are lovely walks, hikes and biking. The bird-life is abundant and the animals roam freely – it’s not unusual to come face to face with a kudu in the middle of the road!
A wonderful place for making a fire and star-gazing. For reading, chatting and contemplation.
Certainly an alternative destination!
If you like bustle and shops and restaurants, this is definitely not the place for you. But if you feel like stepping out of the electronic age for a while, then there are few places so different and remote!
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