Brandvlei, Northern Cape


You’re now in Great Pan Country.

Words and Photographs by Chris Marais

Brandvlei lies halfway between Calvinia and Kenhardt on the Great Pans of the Northern Cape. This is a place where the San Bushmen roamed, and where desperadoes once hid from the law and where speed merchants looking to race rocket cars like to come these days.

Driving around the area, you will see farms with some of the most exotically enchanting names around: Verdwaal Vley (Getting Lost Marsh), Varskans (Fresh Chance) and Handelkraal (Market Kraal).

They say Brandvlei (Burning Marsh) got its name this way: a trekboer outspanned overnight here, forgot to extinguish his campfire and set the local bush alight. He was forever known as ‘Ou Brand’ (Old Fire) and the place was called Brandvlei. Either way, you’re not likely to see much marsh or wetland up there these days. It’s as dry as a desert out there.

Nevertheless, the fun of visiting a place like Brandvlei is you get the real Outback feel of the Northern Cape up here, the remote Great Nothing of it all.

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