We got invited by the Ladismith tourism for an educational to see what Ladismith had on offer. This also coincided with some festivities and the CBL Paddafees (Frog festival) a fundraiser for a NGO – wardrobe of love. We got booked into a 1912 dwelling with stunning features and comfortable beds called Towerzicht.
Ladismith reading from the concrete road marker outside the tourist office is 249 miles from Cape Town. The tourist office is in the old Otto Hager Church. According to the current maps Ladismith it is 320km away from the mother city.
Years ago I camped in the small town of Ladismith over Christmas. Remembering very hot weather and not a lot going on probably due to all being gone for the holidays. But had a great time the 3 days camping there. I did notice all the old buildings and visited the small shops etc but meant nothing to me.
But this time we had a local tour guide, Alistair Reizenberg taking us around. Like normal, most locals do not always want to pay for the services of a guide. Since being a tour guide myself I did notice we pick up interesting facts and stories about an area we can relay and make it even more interesting. So with 1 of the 2 local guides taking us around it was well worth it.
First we went to the Seweweekspoort pass and stopped at certain points. Here Al pointed out some interesting ruins, plants, streams, and formations. The water of a stream we stopped at was crystal clear cold and great to drink.
Even with some mint growing nearby to put in our water bottles too make it taste even better. Convicts build the pass for 6 km without the presence of an engineer before AG Smidt took command over them in 1861 and finished it in 1862. He was a brother in-law of the famous pass builder Thomas Bain. A well worth pass to visit and explore where you can even see a scarce protea called the Aristata. Seweweekspoort pass is also a certified Unesco World Heritage Site.
The evening we were entertained with stories by an old resident of the town Mr Petro Le Roux. His father was a pastor and Mr Le Roux was born here and is now over 70 years old. Alistair took over and also told us how Zoar the missionary town a couple of kilometres from Ladismith started. He also talked a bit about the Khoi people and different tribes. This all as we sat around a fire on the stoep at Towerzicht.
Early the Saturday morning Al picked us up for a hike into the hills behind Zoar. Luckily the overcast conditions made the hike really enjoyable. As we went along Al would point out certain plant species he knew and mention if they had some medical remedies linked to them. The uphill part was a bit of work to hike and the way back was not at all bad. There is a huge Spekboom, and this plant absorbs loads of carbon dioxide. Also exchanging it into oxygen is on of the top O2 producing plants.
As we entered a ravine a slight drizzle started and we ducked into a big overhang and enjoyed the views around. After the rest we hiked out of the ravine following the small dry river path. On the way Black eagles nest and some young lava formations got pointed out to us. About 4 hours later we exited the hike route. Al arranged for a Donkey cart ride and the ladies enjoyed the last km of the route on the cart.
Before lunch we did an architectural tour. Stunning and different old styles of buildings was shown throughout the town. A change to the Simplified Georgian style got renamed to the Ladismith style where the roof iss build higher and round air vents is inserted to help cool down the houses. A really good tour to do, the rest of the group who did not hike did a walking tour in town.
Lunch time was in the Ladismith Township and we were treated to a local rice & potato dish for starter and a “vaal potjie” consisting of a chicken stew and rice. The drink served was a refreshing homemade ginger beer. After lunch we got to know and also played some of the local games the children play.
The evening ‘s festivities held at the oudepastorie had locals doing a fun 5km run and a longer 20 km race at sunset when it is nice and cool. Music, food, wine, art, jumping castle and lots of fun for old and young all around.
Our small group of Guides (members of Cape tourist guide association) really enjoyed the hospitality of the local people.
Ladismith is a small town with lots of history and really well worth a longer visit. Do not rush through too get to Oudtshoorn and the Garden route. Plan your route accordingly to spend and even sleep over in the town and get to see some of the sites in and around Ladismith.