Calvinia Tourist Attractions
Calvinia, an isolated little town at the foot of the Hantamsberg (1,673m/5,489ft), is a possible base for a trip through Namaqualand, northwest of the town. The surrounding area is famed for its show of blossom in spring.The town, founded in 1848 and named after the Swiss Reformer John Calvin, is second only to Harrismith as a center for the breeding of merino sheep. This breed of sheep, famed for the fineness of its wool, originally came from Spain. In 1789 King Charles V of Spain presented a number of merinos to William V of Holland, and six of these came to the Cape, where - to the displeasure of the Spanish - they flourished magnificently. The progeny of the original six provided the basis of South Africa's merino-breeding industry.
Akkerendam Nature Reserve
2km/1.25mi north of Calvinia, at the foot of the Hantamsberg, is the Akkerendam Nature Reserve (area 2,300ha/5,680ac), established in 1962. Two hiking trails run through the reserve, which is open throughout the year. The Karebook Trail, which runs along the foot of the Hantamsberg, is a short walk of 3km/2mi; the Steerboom Trail takes 7 hours. Both trails allow visitors to discover the marvelous flora of the Hantamsberg. The fauna of the reserve includes various species of antelope
Calvinia's Museum is housed in a former synagogue (a relic of the time when the population of the area included a high proportion of Jews). The Museum's collection illustrates the history of European settlement and sheep-farming and also includes archaeological finds from the surrounding area and old furniture and photographs.
This restored historic building, with 17th & 18th C furniture, now functions as a guest house.
Waterfalls, wildflowers, nature reserves and national parks surround Calvinia.
Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve
From Nieuwoudtville a track runs 10km/6mi south to the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve (area 5070ha/12,520ac), the main attractions of which are its Bushman paintings and a number of interesting rock formations. A 46km/29mi long hiking trail runs through the reserve; to walk the whole trail takes 3 or 4 days, spending the nights in mountain huts, but it is also possible to walk along selected sections.
Tankwa Karoo National Park
The Tankwa Karoo National Park (area 27,064ha/66,848ac), 95km/59mi south of Calvinia, was established to safeguard and restore the natural splendor of the semi-desertic landscape of the Karoo. After a rare fall of rain the area becomes a sea of flowers. It is planned to develop leisure facilities in the park.
70km/43mi west of Calvinia on R 27 is Nieuwoudtville (alt. 719m/2,359ft; pop. 1,000), in a sheep-farming region in which corn and rooibos tea are also grown.
On the beautiful road from Nieuwoudtville to Louriesfontein are the 100m/330ft high Nieuwoudtville Falls, which are particularly impressive after rain, and the bizarre Kocurboom Forest.
Nieuwoudtville Wild Flower Reserve
The Nieuwoudtville Wild Flower Reserve (area 115ha/284ac) is particularly attractive in spring. If the winter rainfall has been sufficiently abundant 300 species of wild flowers bloom here.