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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.