If you’ve been heading north for a while you might feel like (another slice of) Kardoesie’s renowned carrot cake by now, but you can do that on your way back to Cape Town. In fact, it’s a bit of an obligatory stop for many. So – continue north to Vanrhynsdorp for now.
The original farm on which Vanrhynsdorp stands was called Troe-Troe which means return-return. As with many other towns in South Africa the building of the church was the beginning of the town.
The original gaol housed a museum as long ago as the 1970’s; the last prisoners left in the 1930’s. At a stage the building fell into a state of disrepair but it has been lovingly restored. These days the premises offer a restaurant; it sells bric-a-brac and succulents and it has antiques to admire or acquire. Each cell has a different theme. Rumours of ghosts abound for those who are brave enough to try to meet up with them.
Vanrhynsdorp also made it into the history annals of South Africa. On Friday, the 10th of March 1933, Victor Smith had the dubious honour of making one of the first successful forced landings in South Africa, en route from Cape Town to London on a solo flight. He landed on the Knersvlakte near Vanrhynsdorp.
Vanrhynsdorp is perfectly positioned to use as a base for exploring Namaqualand flowers in season. Around Vanrhynsdorp you have one of the most diverse succulent regions – including dwarf succulents – in the world. Many plant species are endangered which makes it all the more special to be seen on a trip into the veld.
Vygies in all the shades of orange and purple parade in the flower season when visitors from all over the world visit Vanrhynsdorp to experience this unique occurrence.
In the vicinity of the Varsch River (‘varsch’ means fresh) just north of Vanrhynsdorp is a good birding area where birders can tick off the Namaqua Sandgrouse, different Lark species (Clapper-, Karoo- and Spike-heeled-) the European Bee-Eater, the Cape Penduline Tit, the Ant-eating Chat and the Rufous-eared Warbler.
Once you have explored Vanrhynsdorp you can continue on to the Namaqualand and the Hantam Karoo though keep in mind that it’s always worthwhile to pay a visit to Piketberg, Citrusdal, Clanwilliam, Wupperthal, Nieuwoudtville and Garies.