It came as a bit of a shock to find out that 80% of the Northern Cape’s roads aren’t tarred, so driving from Sutherland to Namaqualand via Calvinia, Nieuwoudtville, Garies and other small towns, on a dusty dirt road for most of the way, is how all good stories start!
Although to properly end my tale of Sutherland, before driving off into the sunrise we did pop into the local butcher to pick up the most delicious lamb chops and his special homemade wors, which were a steal at under R200 for the lot!
As soon as you leave Sutherland in a northerly direction, roads — at least of the tar variety — disappear.
If the dirt roads were a shock to my city soul, the rolling vistas, flattened mountains and stunning scenery came as a pleasant surprise. Best part was that since I was still feeling low from too much SALT (lol) I was a passenger in my own car so could enjoy the passing parade of scenic views of the Hantam Karoo mountains without having to navigate the corrugated dirt roads.
Where the gravel road ends and the tar starts, we discovered the quaint little dorp of Calvinia. The Calvinia Museum is housed in the former art deco styled Jewish synagogue built in 1920. The museum authentically portrays the lives of the early European settlers. Outside stands the Calvinia, a majestic antique steam train in mint condition. I did a quick tour of the uber interesting museum, which is bigger than it looks from the outside, and then popped into the local Calvinia Hotel for a look around. We actually came back via Calvinia from Kgalagadi two weeks later and stopped in there for delicious lamb potjiekos.
Then it was onto Nieuwoudtville on the Bokveld escarpment covered by wheat, heather and flowers, to meet up with our buddies for a quick lunch in a charming garden coffee shop.
I’m fascinated by small town churches so this trip turned into my own version of a Platteland pilgrimage!
After lunch we took the awesome majestic Vanrhyns Pass with its majestic and unexpected views over the Knersvlakte on the descent to Namakwa’s coastal terrace. And then we met up with the N7 to drive the straight road up to the Namaqualand National Park, our home for the next three days.