Discover The Real Tesselaarsdal

Posted by The Cape Country Meander on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 with No comments
Tesselaarsdal is the ideal getaway in which to experience unpolluted natural beauty and small-town community living at its unsanitised best. Yes, the gravel road is long and a little inconvenient for urbanites but this is part of the town’s tucked away charm. It compels you to slow down and immerse yourself in your surrounds; it certainly helps to authenticate Tesselaarsdal as one of those rare off-the-map experiences most of us crave and seldom find so close to Cape Town. In fact, Tesselaarsdal is a very convenient 21 kilometres from Caledon and has much to offer if you’re willing to leave your high heels and preconceived ideas behind.

What You’ll Find in Tesselaarsdal

You’ll almost certainly spot some blue crane and plenty of lazy sheep on your way in. Entering the town itself, you’re likely to find cows languishing on the side of a dam in mock-Vogue pose. You might see Oom (uncle) Jordaan walking down the main road en route to stopping for a chat and a cup of tea at a neighbour. Everyone belongs to a church here. On Saturday mornings you’re bound to hear lively church singing. Most of the residents are also ardent rugby fans. People gather at the local pub in the centre of town to banter and goad one another at match time. It isn’t uncommon for Oom Ava to be present. He refereed local matches in his smart white kort broek (short pants) and blazer back in the day. Oom Ava is highly respected and a bit of a legend in these parts, and for good reason.

Little known apartheid court victory

Oom Ava played an important role in fighting for and securing Tesselaarsdal’s legal exemption from the apartheid land reform system, the only town to achieve this in South Africa. It’s a story about Tesselaarsdal well worthy of telling and entirely necessary. Few people outside of Tesselaarsdal know this fact. Steven and Sandra Young, originally from Somerset West started coming here years ago for weekend getaways. With time the trips to Tesselaarsdal became shorter and the trips back longer. Moving here permanently three years ago, they chose to live in the town as part of the community.

What is the hairdresser’s trail?

Practically every person, every cottage and even walking, hiking and mountain biking trails have a story. For instance, once upon a time, the hairdresser would walk a fair distance from Stanford to Tesselaarsdal to do people’s hair. As a result, the route he took is commonly referred to as Haarkapper’s Roete (hairdresser’s route). The walking, hiking, mountain biking trail that follows the route will soon officially be known as Haarkapper’s Roete. Come and find out about Annie’s famous homemade koeksisters (typically South African sweet). Stay over at one of the comfortable self-catering options. If you don’t feel like cooking arrange with Millie, a friendly local with heaps of stories of her own to cater meals for you. There are also plans to introduce a coffee shop. Nothing happens here according to prescribed tourist recipes. Things happen slowly. Life isn’t easy and like many small towns this too is one in transition. Regardless, Tessie has its own very special brand of welcome and activity.

Unusual nighttime outdoor adventures

There are plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors even until deep in the night where you’ll discover arguably some of the clearest milky way viewings in South Africa. Don’t be surprised if you chance upon rather large porcupines. They make a bizarre “ghrk, ghrk-ing” noise, like clanging armour, as they run. From the mossie bird’s unusual weaver-like nest entrance in the eaves of Steven and Sandra’s patio roof; to the mother skunk who used a cut in half plastic Coke bottle to nestle and protect from the elements her babies, encounters here are unexpected. Even rescued moles come back for a kuier (to pop in and call on someone or visit). This is a town working to create a truly delightful lifestyle experience by being the lifestyle themselves.

Sandra, Steven, Oom Jordaan

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