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August 13, 2013

My Montagu Adventure on Instagram

Venture beyond Cape Town with Allison Foat into the beautiful small town of Montagu.

Route 62 is one of the most stunning drives in the Western Cape, possibly in the whole of South Africa, and it's one of my favourites. It leads to some of the most picturesque towns and villages in the province, like Montagu.

Just a short two-hour journey from Cape Town, Montague is known as the gateway to the Klein Karoo.

I was there recently to co-adjudicate the dance section of the Youth Arts Festival, a dynamic and inspiring cultural event, headed up by Helen Gooderson and the RAD Foundation.

The dramatic entrance to the town is through that famous 'gat innie berg' or hole in the mountain, blasted in 1899 by Thomas Bain, to clear a passage through the rock face.

Surrounded by impressive low lying Langeberg mountains, that are currently blanketed in snow, Montagu overflows with rustic charm. Stroll down Long Street where there are no fewer than 14 national monuments, take scenic walks, go quad- biking, or enjoy delightful restaurants like Ye Olde Tavern, the Burgundy Gherkin, the Rambling Rose & Die Boord. Browse through fabulous gift shops like those at Church Corner (I picked up exquisite crystal wine glasses at the antique store and a wool coat at the Diva Dressing Room second hand outlet), or if retail therapy is not your thing, head for the soothing hot mineral springs to de-stress.

There are more than 50 wine cellars in the Montagu area - they say Route 62 isother the longest wine route on the planet. Montagu-produced 'takeaways', other than the nectar of the gods, include olives and olive oil, dried fruit and nuts, honey, home-made rusks, rose geranium products and preserves.

Other than its scenic beauty and must-have wares, what impressed me was the friendliness, hospitality and amazing service I experienced (almost) everywhere I went, be it the Montagu Country Hotel, the local Shoprite, or waiters at the restaurants I mentioned earlier.

Take, for example, my experience at Niël se Huiswinkel ... walking by I spied a table in the winter sun and thinking I could, I asked for tea. Proprietor Niël Ackermann didn't bat an eyelid, but warmly obliged and as it turned out his store is a DIY enterprise, not a coffee shop, not even close; Niël was just being friendly, in the Montagu way ... too fabulous and another reason I love the town.

On my way ... flaming red disa flowers line the way on sections of Route 62.

The famous hole in the Kogelberg, blasted by Thoams Bain in 1899.

One of many national monuments on Long Street.

The NG Kerk.

Meet Niël Ackermann ... the friendly man with the coffee shop that isn't .

Die Boord has an amazing outdoor area with a gorgeous view. Do try their bobotie.

Piet Antonie, seen on Long Street with his homemade musical bicycle, a real gem.

For more about Montagu, please visit www.montagu.org.za

Eager for a day trip beyond Cape Town? We have the best suggestions here.

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