In the Dry Country the rules of enjoyment are simple. Bring your map, your happy shoes and at least one sober companion. And come thirsty
Words and pictures Chris Marais www.karoospace.co.za
Additional Research and Designated Driving Julienne du Toit
It’s taken me more than a decade of rootling about the utter vastness of the Karoo to snuffle out these wonderful drinking spots. Many of them appear as the cherry on top of a long journey, others are the very reason you hit the road in the first place.
As with most lively travel stories, this piece should come with some kind of health warning. Do not operate heavy machinery while following this route. It is, after all, the largest pub crawl in Southern Africa.
Most important is to follow Marais’s 12 Drinking Rules of the Karoo Road
1. Don’t feed or annoy the locals unless they invite you to
2. Avoid religious or political subjects in the bar
3. Burst into song only after 10pm, when no-one’s listening
4. Avoid lengthy eye contact with any bloke’s wife or girlfriend
5. If you’re a boy, don’t drink from a straw
6. Don’t start dancing in a drinking man’s pub
7. Don’t try to order food that’s not on the menu
8. If you are a journo and you have to make notes, do it the Dana Snyman way and write them in the loo
9. Avoid bottled things in jars on counters – there’s normally a lot of mampoer or witblits involved
10. Don’t talk about fracking – it’s right up there with politics and religion
11. Don’t try to drink a policeman, diesel mechanic or Karoo farmer under the table – you will fail miserably
12. If you break any of the above rules and upset someone, simply buy that someone a drink – it works much better than a handshake or a pathetic ‘sorry’.
Right, so are we packed and ready? Let’s get started in the Eastern Cape, right here in my home town of Cradock. Then we’ll move on to the Northern Cape and Western Cape.
1. The Albert Bar
Victoria Manor, Cradock
Overlanders heading for Christmas coastal spots in December, and water athletes taking on The Fish River Canoe Marathon in October know this beloved little pub in Cradock well.More precisely, they know Amos Nteta, the smiling face of the Vic Manor.
048 881 1322, www.tuishuise.co.za
2. Die Ramstal
Once you’ve lunched at The Karoo Lamb, make your way to this quaint little pub behind the restaurant (and just down from the famous Owl House) and have a beer with owner Ian Allemann.
Go easy on the shooters…
049 841 1642, www.nieu-bethesda.com
3. The Brewery
This experience begins with a ploughman’s platter for lunch and has been known to extend well into the afternoon.The setting is “Karoo complete” with goats and windmills. The food is simple and delicious and the range of natural ales is legendary.
049 841 1602, www.thebrewery.wozaonline.co.za