The Jeep Grand Cherokee has now reached the halfway mark with my trip to Chalumna in the Eastern Cape via Leeu-Gamka and Route 62. It took the trip in its stride, perhaps having (fictitious) emotional thoughts of the original Route 66 through America.
Fortuitously, we were there a week before the snow hit or we would be testing the Jeep’s “Select-Terrain” four-wheel drive system to the full and beyond. Incidentally, there is a snow setting for this purpose.
Once again the Thule roof box was fully loaded and all the interior space utilised. We did get a chance for some dirt road excursions to locate the whereabouts of a family farm that I last visited nearly 45 years ago as a kid. When you are small, everything seems larger and further away than in reality. This led me to the wrong farm at first, but the farmer’s mother-in-law knew of my uncle and aunt’s farm, and directed us back to the right road where we were able to take pictures of the old, unoccupied farmhouse. Then it was a gravel road, well-graded, that took us to Prince Albert. We were told that the Swartberg Pass was closed so we went through the magnificent Meiringspoort and on to De Rust for an overnight stop. The following day we cruised along the good old Route 62 through the Langkloof apple orchards and were sad that the narrow-gauge railway line no longer carries the apple express down to the Port Elizabeth as Spoornet had closed it down. This is the longest narrow gauge railway line in the Milky Way Galaxy (as far as we know) at 283 km and train enthusiasts are battling to keep it operational with the odd steamtrain trips. In Joubertina, we had to resort to filling the tank with 500 ppm diesel, but fortunately, Jeep SA realised that SA has many rural areas without low-sulphur diesel and removed the diesel particulate filter to allow for this. of course, the terrific 900 km range of the Overland helps to stretch out the refills.
On reaching the Chalumna River (Xhosa: Tyolomnqa), we had to tackle some pretty bad gravel roads but the Jeep performed brilliantly and after a few days of wedding festivities it was time to return, this time via Knysna and then over the Outeniqua pass and on to Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp, then back home via the N1 and Du Toit’s Kloof Pass.
Fuel consumption on this trip was the best I have got so far, even fully loaded plus the roof box, varying between 9,41 and 9,98 L/100 km and the long-term average is presently 10,5 L/100 km.