In the last edition of our famous book, Guide to Best Budget Getaways, we likened Calitzdorp to a TV3 presenter: pleasant enough but not quite having what it takes to hold an audience. However, since writing this, the town has become hottish property! (Okay, we all make mistakes…) Calitzdorp straddles the much-touted Route 62 highway and despite it’s quick ascension is still a calm little place of unassuming dusty Victorian streets. Whether you decide to bed down in the village itself is up to you, but for a full weekend of it you might opt to be in the beautiful Groenfontein or Matjiesvlei valleys stretching out beyond the dorp.
Things To Do
- Calitzdorp’s ‘New Byzantine’ Dutch Reformed church and the simple Karoo-style buildings dotted around it are what attract most visitors. Many of the older homes, some of them tiny dolls’ houses, served as overnight tuishuise (church houses) for farmers coming into town for their weekly spiritual fix.
- Complete your stroll through the historic centre with a glass of port, for which Calitzdorp is well known, thanks to a hot dry climate and poor soil. Some of the country’s best port is made at three wineries, all within walking distance. Die Krans Estate and Boplaas are among them. Further out of town, Peter Bayly Wines does a fine Portuguese-style port – visits are by appointment only.
- Several scenic drives/rides fan out from Calitzdorp. The circular Groenfontein-Kruisrivier route is the prettiest of the lot, a narrow 50km dirt road looping back and forth in the Swartberg foothills, passing dusty abodes and old farms. Heading towards Ladismith, the narrow and fiery-red Seweweekspoort is also well worth doing by car or mountain bike.
- Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, a low-key reserve draped over a rugged isolated mountain, is a good place to stretch the legs. Originally established for the conservation of Cape mountain zebra, Gamkaberg has accommodation, a 4x4 route and hiking trails. Don’t visit in February, unless the idea of 44 degrees in the shade turns you on.
- Calitzdorp Spa is a fair distance out of town and like many spa resorts is built for crowds and not style. The facilities are a little tired and only a notch or two above standard municipal mould – excuse the pun. The peachy monolith of 80s-inspired architecture doesn’t add much to the appeal.
- Compared to Oudtshoorn up the road, Calitzdorp is yet to shine as a gourmet destination. For a meal on the stoep, Die Dorpshuis is friendly and serves both light day fare and solid Karoo staples like roasted lamb, ostrich steak and Eisbein. For good coffee and cake and quirky decor, Die Handelshuis is a civilized outing. There are also one or two other eateries along the dusty main street (R62), including Lorenzos, that seems popular among fashionable locals.
The setting? Gorgeous Klein Karoo, minus the harsh edges: early morning cows on their way to be milked, the sounds of phlegmatic tractors and the occasional farm bakkie; open vistas of tobacco fields ...
Now, here's a farm spilling rich history and Karoo character. Matjiesvlei goes right back to 1821 and has been in the same bloodline ever since - today it's farmed by 5th generation Bennie Nel and his...
Where You'll Also Find Us
Arniston (Waenhuiskrans) • Barrydale • Baviaanskloof • Betty's Bay • Bonnievale • Bredasdorp • Caledon • Calitzdorp • Cape Agulhas & Struisbaai • Cape Peninsula & Surrounds • Ceres • Citrusdal • Clanwilliam & Cederberg • Darling • De Rust • Elands Bay • Gansbaai • George • Grabouw & Elgin Valley • Greyton • Hermanus • Hogsback • Knysna • Ladismith • Malgas • Matjiesfontein • McGregor • Montagu • Mossel Bay • Napier • Oudtshoorn • Paarl • Plettenberg Bay • Porterville • Pringle Bay, Betty's Bay and Kleinmond • Riebeek West & Riebeek-Kasteel • Robertson • St Helena Bay • Stanford • Stilbaai • Sutherland • Swellendam • Tulbagh • Velddrif • Vermaaklikheid • Wellington • Wilderness • Worcester & Hex Valley • Yzerfontein