Having undertaken some practical research earlier in the year, by taking a 1.2 litre Hyundai over the Cedarberg without a map ("I'm sure it's not that far to the other side, hey?") and setting up our oversized tent and underinflated camping mattresses at Theewaters, Bronwen and I were ready to tackle anything, even braai-ing without a braai grid. Yes, we've done that too.
And now our ultimate challenge awaits: we're heading from Cape Town to Graaff-Reinet for the first ever national instameet, a gathering of SA Instagramers, in a 1971 VW Camper called 'Bay'. Adventure calls. So we thought we'd put together our ultimate roadtripping guide, Rambleiista* style.
1. Pack like you're in the army
Having grown up camping and caravanning all over South Africa, we've learned some mean packing skills from our dad, the ultimate packmeister. The gist of it is: fit as much as you can into as little space as you can, as neatly as you can.
2. Go in search of flowers
This goes for all flowers, chief among them being the protea, best located in its natural habitat in the mountains of the Cape. But all other flowers are welcome too from the fine feathery fynbos variety, to wild daisies, cosmos, and the odd looking strelitzia. Don't forget to pack a handy "Guide to the Wild Flowers of the Western Cape", or "Latin Names of our Favourite South African Plants." These will help you in the identification process once said flowers have been located.
3. Head out on a trail run
What is the point of being outside if you don't get as outdoorsy as possible, right? Trail runs will do that for you. Pack your off-road shoes, and if at some point you see a foresty trail beckoning, get out and explore a bit more. Who knows, you might even find a protea while you're out there.
4. Take the farm roads
One of #therambleiistas highest values has got to be getting off the beaten track. Of course, this has to be measured against the capability of the transport at hand. If you're on foot (with trail shoe) then anything is possible. Horses make this kind of 'road-less-travelled' approach even faster, and way more fun. But if you're in your fourteen hundred Opel sedan with frightfully low suspension, it might be better to take the more sedate farm road, rather than the Swartberg pass variety. We can't all drive a Landy, even though we do dream about it.
5. Make a fire
Making a fire is what we South Africans do best. We drive, we set up camp, we crack open beers and we make fires. When it comes #therambleiistas' road-trips however, fires can prove challenging. We do love a bit of kindling gathering, even if the baboons are uncomfortably close when we're out scrounging. And we do love sitting around the fire once it's crackling away merrily. But there are those awkward in between moments when we're not sure the fire will take, or when we're over the amount of smoke involved, or we realise one of us forgot to pack the braai grid.
6. Don't forget the vino!
I know I mentioned beer earlier, but it really is all about the wine. Just remember to stock up on some decent wines while you're closer to civilisation (read Franschhoek), rather than leave it until you hit Clanwilliam on pensioners payday and your only options left on the BlueBottle Discount Liquor Store's red wine shelf (singular) is some kind of late harvest variety that might be better suited to starting a fire.
7. Bring a sense of silliness
Some travellers are cool, like some kind of preppy American jeans advert. Some are super organised, like a pack of MacGuyvers sponsored by Cape Union Mart. And some are just downright silly. Silliness lets you laugh at the unforeseen, see a wrong turn as an adventure, and helps relieve the tension when the padkos runs out.
8. Take lots of photos
One of the best things about road-trips is the memories you get to make. Stop and take lots of photos of... proteas, mountains, and farm roads! But don't forget to take pics of the people who are sharing the journey with you. These are the memories that will make you smile, and the ones you'll treasure years from now.
What's your advice for the ultimate road-trip?
PS. Feel free to follow our epic roadtripping adventure here.
PPS. *The Rambleiistas is the name we gave ourselves after a certain adventure involving Mike Lundy's Guide to Table Mountain, a route called Tranquility Cracks, and only a handful of raisins. But that's another story entirely.