Once upon a time, a man by the name of Ronnie decided to build himself a little farm stall next to the road. It was in the middle of nowhere on the dusty plains of Route 62 in the Klein Karoo.
The plan was to sell some farm produce to passsing cars and a couple of beers to locals on business trips between the small towns of Barrydale and Ladismith.
The idea seemed good and Ronnie immediately set to work. Once all set up, Ronnie aptly baptised the little roadside shop "Ronnies Shop" and painted it in big red letters on the side of the shop for all to see.
Business ticked over slowly for Ronnie, until two of his mates one night grabbed a bucket of red paint and added the word "sex" to his signage so it suddenly read "Ronnies Sex Shop".
Ronnie was furious, but very quickly every passing motorist couldn't resist stopping to find out what type of Sex Shop could possibly be here, in the midlle of nowhere next to the road.
Over the years Ronnie's Sex Shop has become famous and strange traditions followed, like the thousands of women who donate their knickers and bras to be hung up in the little pub and the walls that are now scribbled full of funny graffiti messages from curious visitors.
You can still find Ronnie behind the counter ready to offer you a cold beer or bar snack from his Road Kill Cafe.
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The picturesque little village of Montagu is literally situated right in the middle of Route 62, a convenient 2 hours drive from Cape Town in the one direction, or 2 hours drive from Oudtshoorn in the other direction. Montagu's rock formations are truly majestic, making it one of the world's favourite rock climbing and abseiling destinations.
Like most towns on Route 62, Montagu has lots of wine cellars to visit, but it is especially famous for its sweet Muskadel.
For beer lovers there is the famous "Mystic Tin" Backpackers and Karoo Breweries. Three local beers are produced by the Micro Brewery at the backpackers, and is well worth a visit! (See Video).
Saturdays are market days, and here you can find the locals sell home produce and all kinds of interesting arts and crafts.
About one and a half hours drive from Cape Town on the scenic Route 62 lies the town of Robertson. If you'd like to travel Route 62, you would need to rent a car, as there is no hop on hop off bus service on this route.
Robertson is famous for breeding thoroughbred race horses and of course its many top quality wine estates.
The nice thing about tasting wine in Robertson is the fact that tasting is free, unlike many other wine regions in the country. The wine estates are truely majestic, with beautiful flaming red roses, kannas and bougainvillea lining the edges of the roads and orchards.
A really interesting wine estate to visit is Kranskop, which is one of the few estates where you can do tasting straight from the barrel.
Another interesting visit is the Klipdrift brandy cellars, where you can taste the different ranges of brandies,
cleverly paired with different titbits of food to enhance the tasting experience.
Robertson also offers one and two day sleepover hikes into the adjacent Langeberg mountains.
So, you've spent enough time in Cape Town. You've climbed Table Mountain, been to Robben Island and sampled all the nightlife you can handle.
Its time to head up to the Garden Route! Now, you can either take the national road (N2), which is pretty dull, but you can make use of the convenient door to door, hop on hop off bus company Bazbus or decide to take Route 62 meandering through majestic lanscapes, towering cliffs and beautiful valleys with its crystal clear springs. For this you'll need to rent a car, as there is no hop on hop off service on this route.
Your journey will take you through the fruit and wine producing towns of Robertson, McGregor, Ashton, Bonnievale, Tulbagh and Montagu which forms part of the picturesque Breede River valley.
From there, following the route further east you'll discover the Klein Karoo region known for its variety of succulents, hazy purple mountain landscapes and the quaint little towns of Barrydale, Calitzdorp and eventually Oudtshoorn, famous for its ostriches and the magnificent Kango Caves.
On the 27th of April every year South Africans celebrate freedom day. This is in commemoration of the first post-apartheid elections held in South Africa in 1994, which saw Nelson Mandela become South Africa's first freely elected president. Here in the Crags on the Garden Route of South Africa, Birds of Eden, the biggest free flight Aviary in the world, celebrated both Freedom Day and the coming of the 2010 World Cup Soccer with the release of 32 new bird species to the existing 280 into the aviary. This brought the total bird count up to over 3000 birds!
The idea behind the 32 species is to represent the 32 countries competing in the 2010 soccer world cup. The bird releases were carried out by underpriviliged children, various NGO's and tourism bodies, releasing birds every five to ten minutes. Early morning the SABC crew were there, providing a LIVE feed for the Morning Live show, for the rest of South Africa to see.
In the Crags, on the Garden Route of South Africa you will find 'The Elephant Sanctuary'. Founded by Chris Kruger, the Elephant Sanctuary is a sort of halfway house for elephants that have nowhere to go to.
The elephants all have different backgrounds. One of them was previously a pet for 11 years (believe it or not), some of them came out of Botswana, and still others were up for culling in the Kruger National Park. The idea is to re-introduce them to the wild, once they are older at private nature reserves.
Each elephant at the moment has its own handler, which it has formed a close relationship with.
Visitors can come on a one hour guided 'trunk in hand' elephant walk through the forest, where you'll get up close and personal with the elephants and even get to touch the elephans. This is followed by a feeding session where you get 'to thank' the elephants and feed them titbits like butternut.
You will also get a 15 minute lecture on elephant anatomy and some interesting facts about these creatures.
Although there are arguments for and against close human contact, the Elephant Sanctuary maintains that nobody really knows for sure.
The Elephant sanctuary is open to the public every day of the week, weather permitting.
In 2001 founders Len and Mandy Freeman bought an undeveloped 46 ha piece of land in the Crags, on the Garden Route of South Africa. They started out with one little hut on the property, taking in their first injured and problem animals and nursing them back to health. Their ability to heal and rehabilitate animals quickly became known and before long they were receiving injured wild animals of all kinds.
This lead to Tenikwa registering as a fully fledged rehabilitation centre with Cape Nature Conservation. Subsequently more animals including birds, penguins, bats as well as wild cats started ending up at Tenikwa. One of these species, the cararcal is particularly persecuted in South Africa, with numbers declining at a rapid rate. Len explains that it is due to ignorance that these cats get killed and that there are in fact many alternatives to killing.
Hence, the awareness centre came into existence, with the objective of making people aware and educating them about the true nature of these animals and methods of conserving these species for future generations to see.
Loredo is famous for its Jersey cows, and produces great quality milk and cheeses. Here you can buy fresh farm milk, provided you bring your own container.
A variety of cheeses are available for both tasting and purchase. Typical to farm stalls it is stocked with a variety of fresh produce from the area, including cold meats and deli, fresh bread and eggs, fruit and veg, preserves, olive oils jams bakes and much more.
In the late afternoon, you can come and watch the cows being milked, or just come for a light lunch and tea.
It is an excellent place to stock up for lunch, if you are planning to do one of the beautiful hikes in the area.
Founders Mike and Emily Caithness started Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary as a hobby due to their passion for snakes. People would call from all across the country when they find snakes on their property, and ask for it to be removed. Thats how it all started.
Today, Lawnwood boasts over 200 snakes and has been turned into a commercial venture, offering one hour guided tours to visitors.
The tour is designed to educate people about snakes, dispell irrational fears that people have about snakes. Visitors will also get the chance to touch a giant tame leguaan and see it feed on chicken pieces.
Mike and Emily have a wealth of knowledge about snakes, so that at the end of the tour you would be able to identify different species of snakes, understand the difference between the different types of venom (proteolytic, cytotoxic, neurotoxic and hemotoxic), and what to do if you get bitten by these snakes.