Once you’ve see the wild spring flowers of Namaqualand, drive on to Pella Oasis, and ask the nuns to take you around Pella Cathedral, one of the most remarkable construction efforts of its time. Meet the warm, friendly people of Pella – and taste some of the sweetest dates in the world.

Did you know?

The Pella Cathedral's clock and big bell were gifts from the people of France.

To find the legendary golden cathedral at Pella, you turn off from the Grand Namaqua Highway (R14), drive for about 10km into scrub desert and look out for the date palm groves.

If you've come from Johannesburg, you've had to pass through the village of Pofadder in the Northern Cape province.

Although 'pofadder' is the Afrikaans word for the venomous puff adder, the town's name has little to do with snakes. It's named after a local Koranna chief called Klaas Pofadder, who died here in a hail of bullets back in the 19th century.

If you've arrived from the west in springtime, your head is still spinning with bright Namaqua daisies. But now you're in Bushmanland, where the amber quiver tree rules.

Pella Cathedral was completed by Father JM Simon, Father Leo Wolf and the brothers of the Order of St Francis de Sales (patron saint of writers) back in 1894. Constructed in Roman-Gothic style, the hardy priests used the Encyclopedie des Arts et Metiers as a handbook and built this marvellous place of prayer in only seven years.

They made 500 trips to the Orange River and back hauling 400 bricks at a time. They used 350 bags of slaked lime and 200 cartloads of sand and 400 wagonloads of stones for the foundations.

This was one of the epic construction adventures of its time. The legend goes that Father Simon carved the large altar crucifix himself, using only his pocket knife, during a six-month period of solitude.

Before the time of Pella and its great desert cathedral, the place was called Cammas Fonteyn. San and Nama people made up the congregation, led by eager missionaries from a number of successive church organisations.

Today, Pella consists of an 8 000-strong community and boasts a delicious, high-quality date crop.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Namakwa 4x4 Exploration
Tel: +27 (0)27 712 8035/6

Klein Pella Guest Farm
Tel: +27 (0)54 972 9712
Email: Glenda@karsten.co.za

How to get here

Pella lies about 30km west of Pofadder.

Best time to visit

In the spring, when the wild flowers are out from August to September.

Tours to do

This is an ideal stop if you are on a 4x4 tours of Namaqualand

Length of stay

You can visit Pella for a morning or stay over on a nearby guest farm.

Where to stay

Klein Pella Guest Farm is close to the town of Pella.