Attractions near Calitzdorp and Oudsthoorn

Calitzdorp is in the very heart of the Klein Karoo’s unique attractions including the famous port wine farms,
majestic Swartberg Mountains and renowned Cango Caves.

Calitzdorp attractions - the heart of the Klein Karoo

The little town of Calitzdorp is in the heart of the Klein Karoo’s world class attractions.  It is only four hours from Cape Town and ideally situated on Route 62. The towns of Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Zoar and VanWyksdorp make up the municipal area called Kannaland. Kannaland was named after the kanna plant (Sceletium tortuosum) known as nature’s Prozac. The kanna plant has been used by South Africans as a mood-altering substance since prehistoric times. The first known written account of the plant’s use was in 1662 by Jan van Riebeeck. The traditionally prepared dried Sceletium was often chewed and the saliva swallowed, but it has also been made into gel caps, teas and tinctures. It is also used as a snuff or smoked and it is legal.

The fertile Calitzdorp valley was originally a large lake. The soil is mainly alluvial (loose, unconsolidated soil or sediments) and agricultural crops are grown for about 1km on either side of the Nel’s and Gamka (lion in Khoi) rivers. There is evidence of the presence of early San and Khoi people in the numerous rock paintings found in the surrounding mountains. Early writings show that the Khoi called Kannaland ‘the valley with no grass’.

There are many “must sees” to be visited within easy driving distance of your luxury accommodation in Calitzdorp. For energetic guests mountain bikes are available for hire in the village, as well a number of walking trails of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. For the adventurous there are a number of 4×4 routes in the area.

About the Klein Karoo

The Klein Karoo is an important sub-region of the World Heritage site known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. Klein Karoo means ‘little desert’, an arid region that is interrupted every forty or fifty kilometers by fertile valleys fed by mountain streams that enable orchards and vineyards to flourish. Indeed, Route 62, the main highway traversing this fascinating land, is famed as the longest wine route in the world.

The Klein Karoo has a spectacular landscape fashioned hundreds of millions ago of years ago by water and geological upheaval. Its flora ranges from lush greenery in the river valleys to ground-hugging, hardy Karoo plants in the open veldt, including the largest number of succulents on earth.

The region’s astonishing geological shapes and formations are home to the famed Cango Caves, a series of spectacular caverns fashioned over millennia by the seepage of water through porous limestone rock. At night, the Klein Karoo skies provide a stunning display of light virtually unknown to dwellers in the Big Smoke, including the Southern Cross, Orion and the awesome Milky Way in its infinite magnificence. Some say the Klein Karoo credibly challenges Montana as ‘big sky’ country.

What to do in and around Calitzdorp

Calitzdorp is located between two World Heritage sites in the heart of the Klein Karoo and is known as the Port Wine Capital of South Africa or the Fruit Basket of the Klein Karoo. It is ideally situated for visits to all the cultural, environmental and simply breathtaking sites of the region. Take full advantage of its position to plan exciting, entertaining and educational sightseeing opportunities in the Klein Karoo.