On 30 July 2020, Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced that intraprovincial leisure travel is once more permitted in South Africa under level 3 lockdown regulations.
We’ve all been itching to escape the four walls of our homes and go on a weekend getaway to de-stress and recharge – and now, if you’re a Northern Cape resident, you can do that and more by taking a sho’t left to safely explore one of these quirky small towns scattered across your home province.
Tucked away in the Upper Karoo along the road to Nieuwoudtville, Loeriesfontein is said by some to have been named after a Jewish travelling salesman named Lurie. Others say it was named after the Knysna loerie (Tauraco corythaix).
The town boasts the largest collection of windmills in the country – housed in a dedicated windmill museum, of which there are only two in the world (the other is in the United States).
About 40km from Loeriesfontein, on the R357 road, you will find the famous quiver tree forest. The quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma) can grow up to 4m tall in the region, with the ability to store water in its trunk, resist drought and live up to 400 years. In spring, the valleys of this forest are covered in a carpet of colour when the wildflowers are in full bloom.
A proper Northern Cape tour or road trip is incomplete without a stopover in Sutherland. This small town on the Roggeveld plateau is 1 450m above sea level, which translates into brilliant night skies, making Sutherland arguably one of the best stargazing destinations on Earth.
Another trump card that separates Sutherland from the rest is that you can visit the town at any time of the year and always find something interesting to do. Visiting in winter might see you discovering and playing in the snow, while those who opt to visit in spring can immerse themselves in the annual wildflower display in the Roggeveld area between July and September.
The town is home to the world-renowned Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) at the South African Astronomical Observatory field station. The observatory also offers daytime and night-time tours to keen stargazers. Near the observatory is Salpeterkop – where the last active volcano south of the equator can be found. Don’t worry, though – the volcano is said to have last been active more than 66-million years ago!
Loxton may come across as just another retreating church spire to the swift-moving traveller navigating their way on the R63 in this part of the Northern Cape. However, the Upper Karoo village of Loxton has carved out an interesting identity for itself in its own right.
Loxton is where the acclaimed movie Jakhalsdans, directed by Oscar nominee Darrell Roodt, was shot. The full-length Afrikaans film with English subtitles was filmed on location in Loxton and has garnered great commercial and critical success since it was released on circuit in 2010.
Famous Afrikaans crime novelist Deon Meyer – who wrote the screenplay for Jakhalsdans – incidentally also bought a place in Loxton, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city when tackling his brilliant writing projects.
Loxton is the perfect escape for weekenders looking for a hideaway far from crowded holiday destinations. Here, you can expect good-hearted people, wide-open spaces, trees that are more than a century old, leiwater channels, donkey carts and authentic Karoo architecture.
From 30 October to 1 November 2020, the annual Bikes and Books event, hosted by Meyer, is due to take place in Loxton. Be sure not to miss this event that combines mountain bike riding with fireside chats about literature. Read more here.
Located in the heart of the Namaqualand area, Springbok is set in a narrow valley bisecting the granite domes of the Klein Koperberge and is the principal town of the region. The town owes its existence to copper mining undertaken after 1850 and a ready supply of water.
In Springbok, you’ll find the Goegap Nature Reserve, which features ample natural riches, supporting 600 indigenous flower species, 45 mammal species and 94 bird species. The Hester Malan Wildflower Garden within the reserve showcases many indigenous succulents and a rock garden.
Visitors to the town can also look forward to exploring the Blue Mine, which is the town’s original copper mine. A tour here includes a walking trail offering insights into the town’s rich history, enhanced by the picture-perfect surroundings.
There’s a lot to see and explore in the Northern Cape! View more of our cities and towns to find your top picks – and, hopefully, a dream weekend getaway in your own backyard.
Please find the updated level 3 regulations for the tourism sector here.