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WWhen the sun goes down and you’ve kept your eyes on the ground the whole day, it’s time to look up, beyond South Africa, beyond this planet…it’s time to give the universe a good gander. Because you see, at Sutherland in the Northern Cape, you’ll get one of the best views of the universe this world has to offer.
Sutherland is actually a world-renowned astronomical centre in South Africa. Besides the ever-so-charming and sparse Upper Karoo, here you’ll find The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) situated on a mountain top, 14km out of town. Obviously, this is the place to stargaze, being one of the best star-viewing destinations in the southern hemisphere.
After you’ve flirted with the Milky Way, you also get to explore the town of Sutherland, which was established all the way back in 1855, when life centred on pioneer farmers and the Dutch Reformed Church.
TThe region continues to be a strong livestock-farming area – and an astronomer's delight. While the town and the area are worth a look at, you are really here to experience the wonders of the stars, but don’t forget to tuck into a classic Karoo dinner featuring slow-roasted lamb shanks or feel what it's like to be in one of the coldest places in South Africa on a crisp winter's day.
Sutherland, Northern Cape
AAnother claim to fame this town has is that it was the most southern place where diamonds were discovered in South Africa, and the old diamond diggings can still be seen in the area.
For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s an array of activities in Sutherland, including horse riding and hiking.
Should you visit the observatory, also look out for Salpeterkop, an extinct volcano that was last active 66-million years ago (and the last active volcano in Africa, south of the equator).
LLet’s not forget that Sutherland is also the birthplace of two celebrated South African poets and writers, NP Van Wyk Louw and WEG Louw. The Louw Museum in Sutherland houses several items of interest such as the old lykswa (mortuary cart), which was used between 1912 and 1950.
Once you’ve been to Sutherland, you’ve also been to Jupiter, Venus, and the Milky Way. More so, you’ve experienced the beautiful Karoo and the heart of one of South Africa’s most charming little towns.
The Upper Karoo Route from Victoria West to Calvinia via Carnarvon offers the beautiful landscape of Northern Cape (strewn with daisies in spring), rare wildlife and a thriving, hospitable culture.
Northern Cape is a vast arid province bisected by the Orange River – a superb wedding destination, whether among lush vineyard greenery, spring wildflowers, or the stark dry beauty of the Kalahari.
Northern Cape is South Africa’s driest province, where the arid Karoo merges with the true desert of the Kalahari – but it offers wildlife aplenty, a mighty life-giving river and spectacular scenery.
The Wild Flower Route through Northern Cape province is a wonderland in spring, featuring legendary Namaqualand daisies and thousands more species, and again in autumn when the amaryllis bloom.
The Riemvasmaak Community Conservancy in Northern Cape: hike, drive or bike silent Kalahari Desert splendour amid canyons and hot springs, hosted by survivors of apartheid’s forced removals.
The Richtersveld Community Conservancy – since 2007 a World Heritage Site – has a brilliant array of hardy plants adapted to the arid climate, and an ancient tradition of nomadic seasonal herding.
A honeymoon in Northern Cape province can be all about desert peace, thunderous waterfalls, plains dotted with wildlife, vineyards and lazy river adventures, historic meanders or white-water thrills.
The Tankwa Karoo National Park in the Great Karoo is in a remote area that is perfect for birdwatching, star gazing and spotting semi-desert flora.