Vanrhynsdorp, Western Cape

Vanrhynsdorp – in the heart of blooming Namaqualand.

By Chris Marais

Many people associate the north-western Cape Karoo town of Vanrhynsdorp with the magnificent seasonal blooms of spring.

Vanrhysndorp, however, is really all about succulents – and they’re an all-year phenomenon.

The town’s first name was Troe-Troe, said to originate from a Nama war cry.

It’s centrally situated for travellers going north, south, east or west. Whether they’re headed for the open deserts of Namibia on the N7 or whether they’re exploring southern Namaqualand in September, many use Vanrhynsdorp as a stop-over.

The magic of the Cederberg Mountains is not far away, Nieuwoudtville with its amazing bulbs is nearby and the Knersvlakte bio-region is all about.

This is where you find a combination of fynbos, small ground-hugging succulents, Namaqua flowers and the statuesque quivertree all together in one spot.

The town is, however, recognised as being southern boundary of the semi-desert Nama Karoo.

Then there’s the famed West Coast and its northern string of seaside towns like Lamberts Bay, Doring Bay and Elands Bay, not more than 100km from Vanrhynsdorp. The 10 towns of the Olifants River Valley are all within striking distance.

One of the special historical places not far from Vanrhynsdorp (about 35km south on the N7 near the village of Trawal) is the Heerenlogement (Dutch for ‘gentlemen’s lodgings’), a cave that was used by the early explorers for shelter on their way north to search for copper.

You will find the names of Adriaan van der Stel, Andrew Geddes Bain and Francois le Vaillant etched into the walls of this extraordinary cave.


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