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The Forgotten Route

Last weekend I went on The Forgotten Route tour, which is a 2 day excursion in to the Karoo. The itinerary look something like this:

Starting point: Cape Town Tourism Office in Cape Town CBD. You arrive and quickly put your luggage into the tour bus’ vehicle. I don’t want to give too much away as there are some really great little surprises, but the group goes on a short city walk with some fascinating stops and mini history lessons. There is so much that we don’t know about this city! After a few stops (and great photo opps) we head to The Kimberly Hotel for a quick coffee and to receive our passports. The guide (in our case – Riaan) took photos of everyone with a polaroid camera, and these got placed into our passport for the weekend’s stamping!

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We took the tour bus from Cape Town to Karibo Wine Farm in Rawsonville. Our host (and winemaker) Karen le Roux was incredibly charming and we got to experience a private wine and biltong pairing as well as a wine and cupcake pairing. We also sampled some of Karen’s homemade Shiraz ice cream / sorbet that was super delicious.

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After Karibo, we headed to the Worcester station and boarded our train to Matjiesfontein. The train ride was beautiful and scenic. We all had a quick lunch and enjoyed relaxing and soaking up the view. The Karoo landscape is breathtaking and it was such a great feeling to be out of the city and amongst nature.

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We got to Matjiesfontein and were greeted by our guide, Riaan who had driven our bus there while we were on the train. We were welcomed at the station platform with cocktails and music before heading to our accommodation at the Rietfontein Private Nature Reserve. After dropping our bags, we headed to the famous Lorde’s Arms pub (the only pub) in Matjiesfontein and then boarded our bus – the shortest bus tour in the world, I’m sure. Our host, John was incredibly fun and hilarious. If you’ve ever been on his famous village tour then you’ll have a smile on your face just thinking about it. We were in stitches. After the (literally) five minute tour, we headed back to the pub for some honkey-tonk entertainment and singing from John.

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We had dinner at our accommodation – a beautiful Karoo braai, potatoes, braai broodjies, wors and salad coupled with loads of wine and more music. We huddled next to the fireplace while our guide braaied for us and their team prepared the other dishes and set our table for us. After dinner, Riaan took us to the Matjiesfontein Museum which is scary, creepy and fascinating. Their museum houses the largest private collection in the country.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the beautiful Lord Milner Hotel. Here you can choose between a cold breakfast (cheeses, meats, cereals, pastries etc) or the hot a la carte menu. After breakfast and loads of coffee, we boarded our bus and went to the famous graveyard in Matjiesfontein. Here our guide gave us more information on James Logan and his family. We then headed back toward Cape Town via Montagu. We stopped at their local market and shopped for homemade jams, soaps, art, crafts and treats before boarding our bus again and heading for Platform 62 in Asthon. If you haven’t been – this is a great find for a day trip! It’s basically an enormous farm stall with a huge wine, brandy, gin and liquer selection. They offer various tastings and pairings, and have a large restaurant outside with a kids play area, pet chickens and even a pet pig. The food is also really, really good – huge portions at such a good price. After tasting various spirits and wines, we headed outside for lunch before going back in to the tasting room for a really interesting and fun brandy tasting / pairing. We tried various (I honestly lost count) brandies with chocolates, honey, ginger, tonics and even orange juice. I highly recommend this pairing experience if you ever find yourself in Ashton.

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We boarded our bus again and headed for Marbrin Olive Farm in Robertson. Here we got to sample their various (delicious) olive oils and homemade bread. The truffle was definitely my favourite, with the sundried tomato variant coming in at second. We also tried their balsamic vinegars and then a good helping of their famous limoncello – which was a huge hit. The setting is so beautiful and they have plans to expand the property and introduce a restaurant offering. We’ll definitely be back for that.

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After that, we boarded our bus back to Cape Town, merry from the day’s festivities. We’d all bought wine (and limoncello) during the day and at this point we were all sharing and having a little party on the bus – coupled with The Forgotten Route’s very cool playlist. We arrived back in Cape Town at about 7pm filled with great stories, memories and new friendships from our trip. I’d highly recommend this tour amongst friends as everyone had a super great time.

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The tour costs R1850.00 per person and includes everything except your lunch on the train (average R100) and your lunch at Platform 62 (average R150 with your beverage/coffee) so you’re looking at about R2100 all inclusive for a full two-day adventure in the Karoo. This includes your tour, the guide, the bus, your train ticket, wine tasting, cupcake and biltong pairing, Matjies bus tour, Karoo lamb braai, accommodation, breakfast, brandy pairing and olive tasting. For more info > check out their website.

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