The Fever story is amongst other things a unique South African road novel. So in accordance with Deon Meyer we put together this itinerary with highlights from Fever, supplemented with places of interest that fit the Fever theme and the rhythm of the journey.
Admittedly: the writer made things easy for us. Deon: ‘I have only used existing placed in Fever, I made nothing up.’
On the road it’s always exiting. How does reality compare to the description that Deon planted in our reader’s head?
The Fever theme makes a trip through South Africa even more unique.
Deon: ‘Like all my novels, Fever was the end result of a puzzle with hundreds of pieces.’
An impressive amount of which fall into place on this unique Fever Trail group tour.
Arrival by your own means (contact us if we can help you with anything, for instance with a transfer).
We meet each other at O.R. Tambo, the international airport near Johannesburg.
Transfer with our luxurious coach to the east of South Africa.
In the province of Mpumalanga we enjoy dinner and accommodation in a typical South African setting.
The hills of Mpumalanga are strewn with remnants of a vanished distinguished civilisation in Southern Africa. In the Stone Circle Museum of Waterval Boven we hear astonishing stories about disasters that ended this civilisation long ago.
Transfer to our bush lodge in the vicinity of Hoedspruit, for an impressive encounter with South African nature and the animals therein.
Fever: On Hoedspruit airport Nico Storm and pilot Hennie find the orphan boy Okkie, that they take with them in their airplane to the Amanzi settlement.
Today we immerse ourselves in the colours and smells of African nature. In a specially converted all-terrain vehicle we go looking for the Big Five. Elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion. They were called the Big Five in the days that hunters went on foot with guns instead of in game drive vehicles with tele lenses.
Fever: The wild animals have trodded down the fences of the Kruger park and reconquer the world from which they were chased away by mankind.
We pause at the visitor center of the Cradle of Humankind west of Johannesburg. Here the so far oldest remains of our human ancestors have been found.
Transfer to our accommodation, where different South African cultures come together.
Deon Meyer: ‘There are many different cultures in South Africa. But when we start telling each other stories we all become just humans with a common cause. That is a beautiful way to get to to know and respect each other in a multi cultural society.
Transfer to Parys on the Vaal river that marks the border between the provinces North-West and Freestate.
Parys is a charming little town. a weekend getaway for inhabitants of Johannesburg and Pretoria, with restaurants, art galleries and antique shops.
Diner on the bank of the Vaal river.
Deon Meyer: ‘The route of your group tour is perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. This tour takes people to many South African places that I love.
‘My books are a fairly accurate reflection of South African society and that is far from dark. South Africa is beautiful and light and full of great people.’
The Vredenfort Dome is the oldest and biggest crater on earth, caused millions of years ago by the impact of a meteorite.
Because of its enormous dimensions and because of erosion the crater not clearly visible from earth.
Fever: In the Vredenfort Dome Nico Storm and his father hide, first at a camp site and then in caves, to cure from their exposure to the anti-virus.
In Kimberley at the former diamond mine we see the biggest man-made hole on earth. We also visit the San Rock Center on a hill top, where the original inhabitants of this land left their drawings on rocks. Our route goes on via Jagersfontein and places in the city of Bloemfontein that figure in Fever.
Fever: Uncle Meklein, descendant of the San, learnt Sandra Bergman how to read tracks. According to Meklein, the Fever was a punishment from earth itself.
In Jagersfontein Nico’s father Willem Storm was bitten by the dogs at the petrol station. Bloemfontein also offers various scenes described in Fever.
Today we are surrounded by the vastness of the Karoo desert. On our route lay Trompsburg and the Gariep Dam that also figure in Fever.
Fever: Not all inhabitants of Amanzi share Willem Storm’s ideals and ideas. Nearly half of them follow pastor Nkosi Sebego to the new settlement New Jerusalem at the Gariep Dam in the Orange river.
Philippolis is one of those rural towns where citizens roll up their own sleeves to get things right. Historical buildings are therefore well maintained. Next to the church is the Laurens van der Post memorial Center, where memory is kept alive at one of South Africa’s most famous writers. The town also has a few eateries and galeries like the Karoo Artists Café from writer Juliette Whelpton. We meet all kinds of interesting people in Philippolis.
Fever: Pilot Hennie flies over the beautiful R717 road, about 60 kilometer east of Amanzi. Just outside of the completely lifeless and abandoned village of Philippolis the pilot spots the KTM-bikers ride into town, until they disappear underneath the big trees of the main street. Nest day the trucks with Spotter-teams Alfa and Bravo drive out of Amanzi to Philippolis and Jagersfontein, Bethulie and Springfontein, Trompsburg and Reddersburg. They find nothing.
Orania has a controversial reputation. We can all form our own opinion during a guided tour through the “Afrikaner settlement”.
Orania and Vanderkloof are not suffering from decay and criminality as other towns in South Africa.
One can also regard Orania as a kind of Amanzi for Afrikaners, with the Voortrekkers from Afrikaner mythology as the Survivers from Fever.
Fever: Orania was the last outpost of apartheid. According to Willem Storm most inhabitants of Vanderkloof secretly share the Orania-ideology of whites only or only Afrikaners. But they don’t want to get the same stigma as Orania stuck to them.
Via Luckhof we drive to the “Karoo Riviera” Vanderkloof at the Orange river, at the border between the provinces Northern Cape and Freestate. Vanderkloof, the eponymous reservoir and the surrounding shores of the lake are the epicentre of the Fever story and the setting of many scenes from the book. We take plenty of time to see with our own eyes the places that Deon Meyer described.
Fever: On the way to Vanderkloof we also pass over Havenga bridge and Luckhof, where other important scenes in Fever take place.
Vanderkloof is Amanzi: the beating heart of Fever.
Vanderkloof is the best place in the whole country for a new beginning, Willem Storm tells his son Nico.
Here is all structure required.
Deon Meyer: ‘I chose Vanderkloof as the spot where Amanzi would come. I did a lot of research of what a community would need, talked to a lot of smart people, and realised at last that Vanderkloof was probably the perfect spot.’
Without the N1 Hanover would be even more insignificant. But thanks to that highway the village now has two petrol stations and two hotels.
After the R398 untarred roads take us through the Karoo to Nieu Bethesda. That village in the middle of nowhere is loved by artists and people looking for peace and quiet. It has a modest tourist infrastructure and a museum with San artefacts and fossils that have been found here.
Fever: Sofia Bergman walks the farm road that her father adored. She spends the night on the veranda of an abandoned farm where she sees the helicopter. A saddle jackal walks for a while with her, the trip companion that compelled Sofia and Nico Storm later to commemorate by naming the Year of the Jackal after him. The N1, the former “mad house” is dead quiet, just like Hanover itself. Sofia spends the night in the abandoned Hanover Lodge Hotel.
We pass Cambedoo national park with its majestic mountains like Valley of Desolation and Spandau Kop on our way to Graaff Reinet. That was the fourth city founded by the Dutch East India Company in South Africa. The facades of the oldest houses face streets wide enough for a span of oxen to turn. Our next destination is Victoria-Wes, a stop over place in the middle of the Karoo. The Apollo theatre acts there like an oasis of culture in the desert.
Fever: In Graaff-Reinet Willem and Nico Storm meet a black man on a ladder, busy making paintings on the church. He also covered the walls of the Camdeboo Hotel, the former Drosdy, with a herd of realistically painted nguni cows. The painter does not want to come with them to Vanderkloof. He wants to stay with his art. In Victoria-Wes the Amanzi Spotters do not find the expected enemy but they encounter instead the group of 600 West Coasters chased from Lambertsbaai on their way to Amanzi. They meet up in Melton Wold, a former holiday farm.
Deon Meyer: ‘I honestly can’t remember how I got the idea of the nguni cows.Sometimes during the writing process magic things happen.’
From Melton Wold we head for Loxton. Deon Meyer put that Karoo town on the map. He used it in his stories, as a setting for movie scripts and organised events here.
After Loxton we drive west through the impressive primal landscape of the Great Karoo. Thousands of years the Khoisan roamed here free, until European colonists claimed the ground and built farms and churches on it. The town of Calvinia was named after the christian father of the church Calvijn.
Fever: Pilot Hennie puts off Sofia Bergman and Nico Storm on the road near Calvinia. From that town it’s a three days walk for them to reach Wupperthal. There they want to find the helicopter killers, the enemies of Amanzi.
After Calvinia we leave the tar road and follow Sonja’s and Nico’s trail via the untarred R355 via the Botterskloof over the Doring river and the Pakhuis Pass. Another untarred road then leads to Wupperthal through the rugged mountain scenery of the Cedar mountains. This Moravian mission post was founded in the first half of the 19th century by missionaries from the Rhine land. In Wupperthal nature is all powerfull and there is some small scale cultivation of tobacco and rooibos tea. The town is also known for the good quality veldskoene (“bush shoes”). A true shangri-la.
At the end of the day we reach via flower town Clanwilliam Lamberts Bay on the Atlantic Ocean.
Fever: Sofia and Nico spend the night in an abandoned farm on the Doring river. They tell each other stories over a camp fire. Next morning they cross the Doring river and on their way they spot a leopard.After a few hours they reach tar at the turn off towards Wupperthal.
After Fever Lamberts Bay also offered a new beginning thanks to the food from the ocean. Every year there was more fish and lobster, one could see how the sea comes totally right. Because there were fewer humans catching fish. The Fever was in fact a blessing for the world.
It gets busier on our way south. Instead of one fragile thin line on an earth coloured background the maps shows more and more roads and place names. Sights worth seeing. Infrastructure. Contemporary civilisation.
Stellenbosch was founded for the Dutch East India Company by governor Simon van der Stel, as the second town in South Africa after Cape Town. Stellenbosch is famous for its oak lined streets with white facades in Cape Dutch style. For its university. For its vineyards that lay around Oak City. For its art galleries, the wine boutiques, the restaurants, the life style.
Deon Meyer: ‘My father told us about Stellenbosch. The spectacular mountains, the streets lined with oak trees, the beautiful old Cape Dutch architecture, the serenity of Eerste Rivier (“First River’). I was in my twenties when I finally got to know Stellenbosch on a motorcycle tour. And it was exactly like my father had promised. Historic, beautiful, stylish. Magic.’
From Stellenbosch it is only fifty kilometer to Cape Town. This is where Dutch colonisation of South Africa started and this is where our Fever Trail ends. Cape Town crowns every South African journey with its incredibly beautiful decor of Table Mountain, signal Hill and Lions Head. The coast is lined between heaven and earth with places like Green Point, Camps Bay, Clifton and Hout Bay. The Mother City is a prominent background in many Deon Meyer stories.
Fever: On board of a ship in the Duncan dock Nico meets his mother Amelia.
Sofia Bergman: we are in Cape Town, in the harbour, there is Table Mountain, right in front of me, so beautiful! And there lies a ship, a big ship, ready for departure. On the ship stands Nico with a woman. And then I see: there Nico jumps into the water, there he dives of the ship and he swims to the quay. And then we go get Nico.
After breakfast we take leave of each other.
End of the Deon Meyer Fever Trail.
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