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  In the town of: Calitzdorp:

- General Information -

   By Scapey on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 11:34 am: Edit Post

This General information facility is created to talk and tell things about this town that are not directly tourist facilities as such. Things like the history, climate and calender of regular events, etc.

An internet search showed the following pages pointing directly to the vicinity of this town:

www.ingrids-welt.de (in German/Deutsch) Kruisrivier, Red Stone Hills Farm, Red Hills

If you know of any more general information web pages that link directly to this town's area, please please add a note below and tell us about it.

Any other notes or questions about this town would also be very welcome.

   By Colin on Sunday, October 12, 2003 - 10:33 am: Edit Post

This picturesque trail starts at the foot of the Huisrivier pass, just out of Calitzdorp. The route is not difficult but a moderate degree of fitness is advisable as there is no access into the valley to recover any hiker who cannot complete the entire route. The route follows the Gamka River as it winds its way through the Rooiberg and eventually runs into the Olifant’s River.

The route is rich in birdlife so take your binoculars. Some species, which can be viewed, include the Black Eagle, Cisticolas, Herons, Martins and Swallows, Gymnogene, to name but a few. The gorge is approximately 500 meters deep and the view is spectacular. If you are lucky you may spy baboons, klipspringers and dassies. There are big pools where you can cool off in summer, so come prepared with a bathing costume. There are three places where hikers have to wade through the water, and although not deep, the surface to be crossed is slippery. Hikers should carry their own drinking water and a snack. The hike ends at St Helena where the river emerges into the fertile valleys of Calitzdorp.

Unless you want to walk all the way into Calitzdorp, it is advised that you arrange to have transport waiting for you at the end of your hike – the time is approximately 5 hours or longer if you stop to swim, take photographs or have a picnic.
For full details contact: George Hattingh TEL: (044) 2133310

During the recent Calitzdorp Naturally eco-tourism venture, Rob Martin of Somerset West (Robert’s Birds) took time off to visit Calitzdorp and share some of his expertise and knowledge with birders who accompanied him on the Bird Field Trips at Red Stone Hills. The list of birds sighted in this area is amazing and it is the ideal spot in which to base yourselves, if bird watching is your scene.

We set off in perfect weather, along winding country lanes, heading out towards the red arches of conglomerate rock, for which Redstone is noted. The spring flowers were ablaze and we walked through a floral carpet accompanied by the constant soothing sound of the birds. “That’s a bokmakerrie,” Rob would say. “Listen, did you hear that call? That’s a ,” he continued. Birds that escaped our notice were soon pointed out by our observant guide – how pleasant to stand in the stillness of the hills, a breeze just rustling the veld vegetation, and listen intently for that elusive bird call. “To be successful with birding, you have to know their call,” was advice, which Rob gave us. “It’s not enough to merely identify the bird by its shape, markings or colour”.

Rob has been visiting Calitzdorp over a very long period and he has an intimate knowledge of the birds of this Klein Karoo area. If bird clubs would like to organize a mini club outing to see the Calitzdorp birds, contact: Pietro Potgieter, Redstone Hills, e-mail: redstone@pixie.co.za or telephone (044) 2133783. Self catering cottages are available or bed & breakfast is also offered

Dr. I.C. (Sakkie) Rust of Franschhoek conducted the Geology and Palaeontology Field Trips recently held in Calitzdorp. Sakkie was a lecturer in geology for his whole life and retired as Professor and Head of the Dept. of Geology at the University of Port Elizabeth.

He is of the opinion that the concretions (which are numerous in the Calitzdorp area) are termite nests, calcareous and made of the same substance as dorbank. As dorbank forms in soils over a period of years, these nests are probably of recent origin and not Cretaceous.

Field trips were conducted in the Huisrivier Pass and Redstone Hills areas and participants found the wealth of information, which Sakkie had to impart, most interesting and informative.

   By Libby_rea on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 12:16 pm: Edit Post

Wow! I've fallen in love. Taken a long time but I think I've finally got there! I went to look at Calitzdorp on the recommendation of a friend who has recently bought there as an escape from the 'rich man's playground - Knysna'. I drove from Oudtshoorn along the infamous Route 62, the mountains on either side of me were topped with glistening peaks of snow. The ranges grew closer and became more vivid and stark with each passing moment. The aloes were persistant in their vibrancy, the vistas I breathed in with a longing that I had half forgotten. As the mountains enclosed me with their reaching arms, I knew that I was about to feel contact. And there it was - the little dorp nestled in the v of the connection between the Outeniqua's and the Swartberg.

The 'main street' has, like many South African towns, become a CocaCola sign meca, with corner Cafe's and depressed looking garages, that one imagines to find in the Australian outback. But like those many South African towns, there in all its glory stood the Church, strong and handsome, a sign that this was a TOWN, a place where people lived and grew and prospered. I turned off into a side street and was instantly in raptors, the architecture was as it was meant to be. Karoo huisies alongside each other, differing in style and colour, but retaining that same 'forever-ness' as the church. Each turn brought a new design, a new stoep, a different broekie lace, a wholesome welcoming to this gorgeous little karoo gem. I was taken in and rejoiced in my finding.

I have now become the proud (very proud) owner of one of these beautiful little houses. I plan to return there soon and make Calitzdorp my home. Everyone that I met in my brief interlude there, were happy, smiling and oh so eager for me to return permantently, not because of who I am, but because I am newly in love and the world loves lovers!

Go and see for yourselves, you'll be so happy that you chose Route 62 as your road through the Klein Karoo.

   By Colin on Sunday, October 12, 2003 - 10:29 am: Edit Post


Matjiesvlei has a rich history. Originally it belonged to Oupa Michael Le Grange. Bennie and Pieter Nel are the only living descendants who are still farming in Matjiesvlei. Once upon a time there were about 25 families living in Matjiesvlei. There were two schools (one white and one non-white) and some of the former teachers included: Pieter Thiart; Kitty Boshoff; Judy (now Fourie), Mr Oosthuizen; Mr Verschuur (every morning he used to tell Bennie a ‘jakkals/wolf’ story before the school day began); Mrs Roux (Gawie); Mrs Le Grange and Mr Pieterse. Jan Nel (wine maker from Boplaas) was one of the last pupils before the school was closed. Mr E. Hendricks of Calitzdorp was one of the last teachers at the non-white school. Bennie Nel recalls that at that time, the pupils had to drink a spoon of ‘lewertraan’ provided by the school, every day, and it tasted awful! Bennie was a pupil at the school from Sub A to Std 5.

In those days Matjiesvlei had its own post office and this building is still there today. The only telephone in the area in the early days was at this post office. Tannie Ann Fourie was the last postmistress. Matjiesvlei also held its own church bazaar, which was held in the school building now restored by Colin and Bronwyn Lumb. This old building has been turned into a guesthouse – THE OLD SCHOOL HOUSE (See the separate OLD SCHOOL HOUSE scapenote entry). Contact Colin and Bronwyn Lumb Tel/Fax: 044-2133996 E mail: Lumb@absamail.co.za

Matjiesvlei is also noted for its spekbosveld. Tannie Maryna Nel tells the story that when the thunder rumbled then the spekboom bushes would bloom! If these indigenous bushes get the rain at the right time, they are really spectacular. The endangered Rooigat Hare also appears among the rocks from time to time. In winter the aloes are a spectacular sight.

The are three other guesthouses situated in this historic setting. The DOUGLAS HOUSE belonged to Oupa Jan Douglas, and the house was occupied by himself, his wife Mimmie and his three daughters, Girl, Lena and Hanna (twins) (Lena was Bennie’s mother). Tannie Hanna is the only daughter still alive at 84 years old and is a resident of the Old age home in Oudtshoorn. Douglas House can sleep 9 people in 2 double beds, and 5 single beds (3 bedrooms in the house and one bedroom outside)

Pieter Thairt built THIART HOUSE in 1936. He was a teacher at the Matjiesvlei Junior School and was married to Girl Douglas. They also had twins, Minnie and Tiekie and a son, Kallie. He was very interested in the garden and house and constructed many interesting features. He bred birds and the original birdhouses can still be seen in the garden today. He also built the gate, which is a unique structure. This house can sleep 9 in 3 double and 3 single beds. Both houses have fully equipped kitchens, hot water, braai facilities and bedding. Guests need only bring their own food and come to relax in the stunning beauty of Matjiesvlei. Contact: Bennie and Selma Nel TEL: (044) 2133753 E Mail: matjiesvlei@hotmail.com

4 x 4 enthusiasts will enjoy the campsite at Oudehuiskloof Guest Farm. The Bush Camp has 3 private and secluded campsites with toilet and shower on the banks of the Gamka River and can take a maximum of 10 people. The area is safe and visitors can relax and enjoy fishing, canoeing, swimming and bird watching. Near by, nestling deep in the heart of the Swartberg Mountains, is Oupa Flip se Huis, a self-catering cottage offering secluded accommodation in an authentic, restored, historic farmhouse, dating back to the late 1800’s. The cottage can sleep 6 – 8 persons with 1 outside and 2 inside bedrooms; is fully furnished and there are braai facilities on the stoep with uninterrupted panoramic views of the mountains.
Contact: Pieter and Marieta Nel at TEL: (044) 2133753 or E Mail matjesvlei@xsinet.co.za

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