Quirky roadside attractions

2012-10-22 15:30

If you've ever done a bit of travelling around South Africa, you are sure to know that our country has a whole lot to offer. Beautiful scenery, amazing animals, incredible curios - you name it!

But sometimes, we get so caught up in arriving at our destination, that we forget to stop and enjoy all the awesome things the road has to offer.

So, with the hope of inspiring some exploration, we've rounded up eight quirky and diverse attractions that are easy to access from the beaten tracks. Tell us about your favourite stops in the comment section below!

Big Pineapple, Bathurst



(Mpekweni)

Location: on the outskirts of Bathurst just off the R67, only 15km from Port Alfred

Standing 16.7 metres tall and containing three floors, this fiberglass, steel and concrete superstructure is the largest pineapple in the world. The ground floor has a gift shop full of pineapple goodies such as jams and chutneys, as well as a few other fruity-themed mementos. The first floor is home to tourist information and static displays of the Pineapple Story and the top floor leads up to the observation deck with magnificent 360°views over rolling farm lands to the Indian Ocean.

Check out these Eastern Cape holiday packages.

Ronnie's Sex Shop


(Turtlesa)

Location: R62 between Barrydale and Outdshoorn

When Ronnie Price originally opened his famous little bar in the Karoo, he had no idea that it would become what it is today. His plan was to open a farm stall which would sell fresh produce and the name would have been straightforward "Ronnie's Shop." However, a couple of prankster friends changed the course of history when they snuck in and salaciously added the word sex slap-bang to the middle of the name! As more and more friends stopped by for a ‘tjop and dop,' the fresh produce idea slowly fell away, and instead, the quaint roadside bar it is today came to be.

The tiny inside section with its heavy wooden counter and chairs is filled from floor to ceiling with sexy underwear and business cards that fun-loving guests leave behind. Definitely a must-visit for anyone travelling through the Little Karoo. 

Big Hole, Kimberley


(Hadida)

Location: Tucker street, Kimberley (a short detour off the N12)

It's hard to believe that Kimberley's Big Hole was once a flat-topped hill. And even harder to believe that this massive concave in the earth was dug by human hands! Yes, at 215 metres deep with a surface area of some 17 hectares and a perimeter of 1,6 km, the Big Hole is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world, formed by picks, shovels, sweat, tears and probably also blood. 

Apart from the large hole, there's also the Kimberley Mine Museum that provides visitors with fascinating information about South Africa's glittery mining beginnings. Take note that there is an entry fee ranging between R45 and R75 depending on your age. http://www.thebighole.co.za

God's Window, Mpumalanga


(Nomad Tours)

Location: Panorama Route, Mpumalanga

Thought by many to be South Africa's best view, God's Window really does justice to its name. From the viewing point, you can see how sheer cliffs plunge 700 metres down into the lowveld and on a clear day you can see over the Kruger National Park towards the Lebombo Mountains on the border with Mozambique. Entry is an almost unreal R10 per person. 

Dalene Matthee Big Tree, Knysna


(Mbendi)

Location: Goudveld Road, Reenendal, 30km outside of Knysna

On the Garden Route, Big Trees are a dime a dozen. If you've ever travelled along this popular section of the N2, you know that every second tiny turn-off leads to one. However, if you're looking for one with a deeper meaning, head to the little settlement of Reenendal and visit the Big Tree that was dedicated to local author, Dalene Matthee. Famous for writing magical novels with the Knysna forest as setting, such as 'Fiela se Kind,' 'Circles in a Forest' (Kringe in ‘n Bos) and 'Dreamforest,' Matthee has become synonymous with this part of the country for many book-lovers. 

The tree, a Outeniqua Yellowwood, is estimated to be about 880 years old, has a 1.72 metre diameter, and stands 40 metres tall and now serves as a living memorial to the author who died in 2005. 

Owl House, Nieu-Bethesda


(SA Places)

Location: 50 km north of Graaff Reinet off the N9 to Middelburg

Created by the enigmatic Helen Martins between 1950 and 1976, this incredible wonderland of concrete and glass-incrusted statues will make you feel like you stepped into a different realm. While the story behind it isn't particularly happy, the legacy left by Helen's incredible "outsider art" is famous around the world and a South African heritage site. While the yard is full of all sorts of interesting creations including camels and a nativity scene, the owls that guard the entrance are what seem to stick in most people's minds.

The Owl House is open every day, except on Christmas Day, and entry is R25 per person. 

Toeka se dae, Bela Bela


(Toeka se dae)

Location: R516 on the way to Bela Bela from the N1 highway

If the classic roadside farm stall is what you're after, Toeka se Dae nearby Bele Bela will be a dream come true! Think tin cups, old rusted cars, funny road signs and a whole array of farm-fresh goodies. Apart from this, a brand new restaurant/bar recently opened up which means an ice cold beer (not for the driver, though!) and a hearty snack will keep travellers to Limpopo fresh and happy on the road. 

Meiringspoort Waterfall, between De Rust and Prince Albert


(Postcards from a small planet)

Location: Along the N12, close to De Rust

Meiringspoort is a picturesque 21km gorge that cuts through tall sandstone cliffs with hardy Karoo vegetation. The ‘poort' connects the Little Karoo with the Big Karoo and along the way you will come across the well known Meiringspoort waterfall. Stop, take in the scenery, have a picnic. It will be worth it, we promise!

So, what are your favourite roadside attractions around the country?

 
Read more on:    travel south africa
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