In 1871, a dramatic cloudburst caused a flood that shattered the little Northern Cape community of Victoria West, killing 60 residents. Few thought the town could survive such a tragedy, but today it is a welcoming Upper Karoo destination.

Did you know?

The headstones of many of Victoria West's 1871 flood victims still stand in the town cemetery.

In the late 1800s, the little Northern Cape town of Victoria West experienced a major disaster, followed by a prolonged period of very good fortune.

In 1871, the settlement was hit by a cloudburst that resulted in a 4m-high wall of water that killed more than 60 people. People at the local museum will point out the little church where there is still a stained glass panel commemorating the floods of Victoria West.

Less than 20 years later, when the great South African diamond rush was on in Kimberley to the north, Victoria West benefited greatly from prospectors, miners and travellers stopping over for rest and supplies.

The local farmers also used the town as their central place of worship, called Nagmaal (evening service) in Afrikaans.

Nagmaal was more than a time to pray. It was also a great social celebration, held every few months, and many a romance was born during Nagmaal time.

Victoria West remains a welcoming, gracious stopover to this day.

The town's main event happens in late September each year, when spring has covered the region with daisy blooms.

Die-hard rugby union fans will remember the legendary Springbok, Mannetjies Roux. He is a Victoria Wester, and owns the Victoria Trading Post and Mannetjies Roux Museum, which is full of interesting memorabilia and well worth half an hour of your time.

At the Victoria West Regional Museum, you will discover all manner of lifestyle artefacts going back to the Victorian era.

There is also an archaeological display and a very interesting piece of pigskin. This 3m-long stretch of skin bears the signatures of the first stockholders of the 2nd Standard Bank to be established in South Africa.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Victoria West
Tel: +27 (0)53 621 0312
Email: admin@victoriawest.co.za

Victoria West tourist info
Tel: +27 (0)53 621 0026

Accommodation
Visit the section in the Victoria West page of the Northern Cape Tourism website, or visit the Victoria West website

How to get here

Victoria West lies about 80km west of Richmond in the Northern Cape. Travelling south from Bloemfontein on the N1, go to Richmond and continue south until you see the R63 sign, at which you turn right. It is also 80km east of the town of Loxton.

Best time to visit

The best time to see Victoria West is in the spring month of September.

Around the area

Take a day drive west to the charming town of Loxton and visit the Riverine Rabbit Working Group. Richmond lies approx. 100km to the east and is well worth a day’s visit – it has a street full of bookshops.

Tours to do

Why not begin your spring (September) flower tour in Victoria West, slowly heading westwards with the blooms?

Get around

Unless you’re on a bus tour, the best way to see the area is to drive yourself. The main roads are generally in good condition, so a regular sedan would be adequate.

What will it cost

Farm stays and town self-catering options are very affordable – see the listed Victoria West website.

Length of stay

Victoria West is a 2-day destination. There are good day drives in the area and it’s just a great place to relax in, so take your time.

What to pack

Pack for weather extremes. It can be scorching in summer (November to February) and very cold in winter (May to August). Even spring nights can be chilly.

Where to stay

There are a number of places to stay in Victoria West – check the website for choices.

What to eat

Karoo lamb is a specialty in this area.

What's happening

See if your dates coincide with the meat festival in Calvinia, or the Carnarvon Fly-In air show, or the Richmond Book Festival. You will find that Victoria West is quite central to a lot of Karoo events.

Best buys

Try the biltong from the area – Karoo meats are always good quality.