Open Africa
Open Africa

Kanna Biodiversity Experience


Attractions

Calitzdorp Museum
This is a cultural historic museum that reflects life in the village of the last century. Many local artefacts can be se...

Guided Botanical Outings
This attraction primarily aims to showcase some of the interesting groups of local plants and wildflowers, present durin...


Features

   Accommodation

Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Bouganvillea Backpackers
Bouganvillea Backpackers is a self-catering accommodation facility in Calitzdorp. Calitzdorp is an ancient town in the K...

Klaar Gesukkel Guesthouse
This guesthouse offers accommodation for four to six guests. Breakfast, lunch and dinner may be served on request. Acti...

Klein Kannaland Farm
  This historic Karoo farmhouse is fully equipped for self-catering. The bedrooms are furnished with beautiful old...

Kruisrivier Gallery Apartment
The gallery is a renovated old school building and consists of Roger’s workshop and displays his photography and u...

Kruisrivier Guest Farm
Situated at the foothills of the majestic Swartberg Mountains between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp, Kruisrivier Guest Farm...

Ladismith Country House and Self-Catering Cottage
Situated 7km outside the town of Ladismith on the slopes of the Klein Swartberg Mountains, Ladismith Country House striv...

Matjiesvlei Cottages
  Middelplaas Cottage: Middelplaas is a cosy two bedroom self-catering cottage in rural Matjiesvlei, just outside...

Mavuradonha Campsite
This campsite is situated in a rural, quiet area with beautiful surroundings. All campsites are grassed. Campers can enj...

Opsoek Valley Holiday Cottages
Opsoek Valley has two cottages available. One cottage has three bedrooms (a main bedroom with en-suite bathroom) sleepin...

Oudemuragie Guest Farm
This picturesque farm is situated at the foot of the majestic Swartberg Mountains. In this tranquil and safe unspoiled n...

Red Stone Hills Guest Farm
Discover the glorious landscapes and wealth of fascinating natural history of the central Little Karoo! The 3-day progra...

Rietfontein Ostrich Palace
Rietfontein Ostrich Palace is situated on a working ostrich farm between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn on the Route 62. It i...

The Barking Frog B&B and Coffee Shop
A B&B in Van Wyksdorp with a coffee shop where guests can enjoy light meals and refreshments. The coffee shop displ...

The Old School House and River View Cottages
The River Farm: The River Farm is a 343ha section of the original Matjiesvlei farm. The perennial Gamka River flows thr...

The Retreat at Groenfontein
The Retreat is a Victorian farmhouse set in 560ha of the beautiful Groenfontein Valley Conservancy, bordering on the 129...

Vincent Gallery and Self-Catering
This gallery displays various mosaic works, paintings, photographs and décor items. They offer a selection of gif...

Welgevonden Guesthouse
Welgevonden Guesthouse offers accommodation in four en-suite rooms on a B&B basis. All rooms are tastefully decorate...

Klein Karoo Valley Guest Farm
Klein Karoo Valley Guest Farm is situated in the little valley of Opzoek, surrounded by the majestic Swartberg mountains...

Port Wine Guesthouse
This stylish 1830 homestead is centrally situated in the heart of the port capital of South Africa, Calitzdorp, overlook...

Blue Sky Organics and Self-Catering Cottage
Blue Sky Organics is a certified organic olive farm with its own factory and olive press. This is the first organic oliv...

Die Withuisie Self-Catering Cottage
Die Withuisie offers accommodation in a self-catering cottage. The cottage can accommodate 2-4 people. Guests can relax...

Skilpad Manor
Skilpad Manor offers self-catering accommodation in the heart of Van Wyksdorp. The house is an old Karoo style house bui...

Matjiesvlei Guest Farm
Matjiesvlei Guest Farm offers guests a peaceful, relaxing stay in one of four self-catering units - Douglas-Huis, Thiart...

Kammanassie Self-Catering Cottage
Kammanassie Cottage offers self-catering accommodation to visitors.Meals can be arranged on a B&B basis and dinner i...

The Queen of Calitzdorp
All of our 15 rooms are beautifully appointed and equipped with air-conditioning, DSTV, coffee and tea making facilities...

Porcupine Rest Camp
Located in a picturesque valley near the farming hamlet of Vleiland – on the R323 linking Laingsburg to Route 62 v...

BKH Products
BKH Products specializes in sandblasted products. Items include enamel mugs and glasses. Customized orders are welcome....

Strooi Kooi B&B/Self-Catering
Strooi Kooi sleeps two people and is a unique cottage built of straw situated on the edge of a vineyard just outside Car...

Soeterus Guest Farm
Situated on Route 62, Soeterus Guest Farm is easily accessible and an ideal stop on the alternative route from Joha...

Albert Manor Guest House
Albert Manor is set in a beautiful garden with majestic views of Towerkop, Elandsberg and surrounding Klein Swartberg Mo...

Calitzdorp Country House
Built in the style and luxury of a gentleman’s country residence and extravagantly furnished with antiques, Persia...

Paddagaste Self-Catering Accommodation
Paddagaste Farmhouse: Set in the quietest corner of the Klein Karoo, on the outskirts of the little hamlet of Vanwyksdo...

   Activities

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Alicatt Tours - Zoar
Alicatt Tours operates along the Gouritz Meander between Ladismith/Zoar and De Rust.  Tours of the Garden Route, as...

Alicatt Tours - De Rust
Alicatt Tours operates along the Gouritz Meander between Ladismith/Zoar and De Rust. Tours of the Garden Route, as well...

Buffelspoort 4x4 Trails
Buffelspoort offers three trails to choose from: Slang Gat – 11km; Blouberg – 14km; and Poort Route &nd...

TBI Adventures
Situated in an unspoiled and pristine wilderness area against the fantastic Swartberg Mountains, TBI Adventures offers i...

The Donkey Trail
‘Die Hel’ in the Gamkakloof Valley was first inhabited by farmers in 1830. It was accessible only by foot un...

Olyvenrivier Farm
Olyvenrivier is a fully certified organic farm, growing olives, figs, almonds and a selection of fresh produce. They sel...

Peter Bayly Wines
A small boutique winery situated at the foot of the majestic Swartberg Mountains in the beautiful Groenfontein Valley.&n...

Gamka River Safari Co.
Experience the Klein Karoo on horseback or in an open vintage Land Rover and capture the essence of Africa. Gamka River...

Zoar Donkey Taxi
Hendrik offers a donkey cart taxi service. He also conducts morning and evening rides through the village.

   Arts & Crafts

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Roger Young Gallery and Coffee Shop
This gallery is a renovated old school building and houses Roger’s workshop. Guests can visit the gallery where al...

Mazawattee Antiques
Items for sale: Variety of antiques; Bric-a-brac; Small furniture items; Porcelaine items; Brass and copper items...

   Environment

Below is a list of environmental attractions on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Sand River Bird Sanctuary
Facilities and services: Bird-watching; Walks; Boer War graves.

Tankwa National Park
The magnificent Tankwa National Park straddles the border of northern and western Cape provinces with the mountainous bo...

Karooicus
For sale: Large range of indigenous plants. Stroll through the nursery and experience what is available. Activiti...

Free Energy Living
Free Energy Living offers courses on sustainable living. It ranges from recycling to green building, alternative energy...

   Food & Drink

Below is a list of restaurants and other food and beverage outlets on this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Smits Winkel Padkafee
A roadside restaurant on the R62 that sells local produce such as dried fruit, jams and a wide selection of collectables...

Die Handelshuis Restaurant
A country-style restaurant serving delicious cuisine.

Sue Chef
All products are homemade and most ingredients are sourced locally. Products for sale: Buttermilk rusks; Bran rusks...

   Services

Below is a list of services on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

CyberTEL Computers
CyberTEL Computers offer computer related services and sales. There is an internet café and copy centre. They als...

Herandien Taxis
Herandien Taxis offers a transport service in Zoar. This transport is the ideal way to do some sightseeing. Zoar is a hi...

Dysselsdorp Liquorice
Dysselsdorp Liquorice is the only sole producer of liquorice concentrate, produced from a local plant, the liquorice roo...

Elnatan Econo Suncooker and Dried Fruit
Features of the Elnatan Suncooker: Cooks food from 70ºC-150ºC; Bakes cakes and bread in 2½ hours;...

Ladismith Tourism
Functions of the office: The office encourage and assist in an orderly development of the tourism industry and ensure...

Calitzdorp Tourism
Calitzdorp Tourism offers information to tourists about attractions in Calitzdorp and surrounds. They can also assist wi...

Oasis Community Projects
Oasis Community Projects is a social development and community upliftment umbrella organisation, which seeks to provide...

 

Overview
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The Kanna Biodiversity Experience is situated in the Little Karoo and forms part of the scenic Route 62 and includes the towns of Ladismith, Van Wyksdorp, Zoar, Calitzdorp and De Rust. Neatly placed amongst majestic mountains and passes of the Swartberg, Gamkaberg, Rooiberg, Seweweekspoort, Huisrivier and Meiringspoort, the area boasts some of the most spectacular rock formations in the region. The area is located in the succulent Karoo biome that features these desert-adapted species in abundance. The Karoo is characterised by its arid and flat landscape where hot days and cold nights make it one of the best regions on the world for stargazing. The route offers a range of attractions linked to people, biodiversity, history and culture.

Ladismith:

The little town of Ladismith is handsomely set against the foot of the Klein Swartberg Mountains and is overlooked to the north by some of the most scenic peaks of the Swartberg Mountains. The area is renowned for its dairy produce and the Parmalat Shop offers traditional cheeses such as Gouda and cheddar or brie and creamy blue. Ladismith Cheese has been manufactured in Ladismith since 1940 under the leadership of Roy Taylor. The Ladismith Cheese Company was founded in June 1999 and has grown significantly since then. 

The town is also known for its talented local artists and the Otto Hager Church building in South Street has a permanent exhibition of their work on display. The Touwsberg Private Game & Nature Reserve offers a large variety of game and flora in self-contained biological and geological ecosystems. Touwsberg Private Game & Nature Reserve is located on 2 500 hectares and features a unique combination of mountain fynbos and typical Karoo veld. 

The town serves an extensive farming area with ideal climate for the production of quality fruit. Ladismith produces a third of the country’s apricots, peaches, plums, and nectarines for the export market. The Hoeko Valley is ideal for cultivating wine and Ladismith Cellar produces a number of quality wines and offer tastings to the public by prior arrangement. 

The seemingly unclimbable summit of the Klein Swartberg known as Towerkop remains a favourite amongst mountaineers. The name Towerkop (Enchanted peak) has its origin in a folk tale that tells the story of a witch who was thwarted near the summit while cross the range on night. In her rage she split the great rock dome before her using her wand and today it remains divided into the eastern and western pinnacles. 

Zoar:

Neatly placed along a fertile valley 22km from Ladismith, Zoar is surrounded by mountains and is developing as a popular attraction among hikers as trips can be arranged by the local community. 

Zoar was established in 1817 as a mission station and was named after the biblical town on the Red Sea.  In 1833 the land was formerly transferred to the Berlin Missionary Society to be held in trust for the local inhabitants. 

Amalienstein:

The quaint village of Amalienstein started as a Berlin Mission station and was named after the lady who provided the funds to purchase the land, Frau Amalie von Stein. There is a legend in the Karoo that talks about a beautiful mermaid that can be seen sitting on a rock at rivers and waterfalls, combing her long black hair. This legend was explored in a documentary on SABC television called 'Magic Places'. It followed an intriguing trail of indigenous stories, first-hand sightings of mermaids, fossils, and mysterious San rock art of mermaid-like creatures which occur only in this area.  Amalienstein is one of the areas where the mermaid is said to have been seen.

Van Wyksdorp:

This quiet village of Van Wyksdorp is situated on 42km from Ladismith. The town has a population of approximately 2 000 people that includes the surrounding villages and farms. Van Wyksdorp was established in 1839 as a Dutch Reformed Church parish, on the farm Buffelsfontein which was owned by Gerrit van Wyk. The name Van Wyksdorp was a result of the large number of Van Wyk residents in the area. During the years of the ostrich boom, it was the centre of education in the Little Karoo. The school was built in 1912 and during the boom had well over 200 pupils who came from surrounding towns. 

The area is popular with mountain bikers and off-road motorbikes and passes such as the Rooiberg Pass is well known for its scenic beauty. Van Wyksdorp is renowned for its dried flower industry and wild flowers are harvested from the mountain sides, dried, dyed and exported.  Popular tourism activities include 4x4 trails, hiking trails, mountain biking and camping. Stargazing and bird-watching are popular pastimes and the area has abundant wildlife.

Calitzdorp:

This typical little Karoo town of Calitzdorp is nestled in a fertile valley that was originally a lake. Streams meander through the surrounding Swartberg and the Rooiberg mountains to provide a source of water for the surprising amount of fruit grown in the area. 

The Khoi people called the area Kannaland – valley with no grass. There is evidence of early San and Khoi people in numerous rock paintings found in the surrounding mountains. In 1853 land was donated by the Calitz brothers so that a church and school could be built. Queen Street is one of the oldest streets in town and houses a number of Edwardian, Victorian and Karoo style buildings that gives the town its sense of place.

This dry arid area was only explored by European settlers in the late 17th Century, where they found only Khoisan people who inhabited the area for centuries before them. Herds of buffalo, elephant and kudu once dominated the vast plains only to be hunted or driven out by modern development. Even though this semi-arid area seems inhospitable, it was turned into a productive farming district by making use of modern farming methods that turned the valley into a productive and wealthy part of the district.

The Khoisan people:

Khoisan is the collective name for two ethnic groups of Southern Africa who share physical and linguistic characteristics. Culturally, the Khoisan are divided into the foraging San and the pastoral Khoi. Khoi pastoralists arrived in Southern Africa shortly before the Bantu and adopted the hunter-gatherer economy of the San due to a drying climate.

Terms used to describe the Khoisan people include Bushmen, referring to the San, and Hottentot, referring to the Khoi or Khoe. Khoi derives from the old Nama word for 'person', while Khoe is the modern Nama word. 'Bushmen' is still being used by some individuals although San is considered to be politically correct.  

Colonial history:

This area was first settled by Europeans in the middle of the 18th Century. As in other areas of the Little Karoo, strong men wandered across the southern mountains, hunting, grazing cattle and hoping to escape the grasping hand of the tax-gatherer. Ladismith started as a permanent place for worship for surrounding farmers. In 1851 a portion of the farm Elands Vallei was bought from Balthazar Kloppers. The town was established in 1852, named after Lady Juana Smith, wife of the Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith. The original Ladysmith was changed in 1879 to Ladismith to prevent confusion with a similarly named town in Natal. At first the town was administrated by the Dutch Reformed Church until it received local government status in 1862 and became a municipality in 1903.

The ostrich feather craze converted Ladismith into a boom town, like many other Karoo towns, with 50 000 birds feeding on lucerne fields around the town. The feather crash of 1914 brought the district to bankruptcy and economic relief and rehabilitation only came in 1924, when the branch railway was opened connecting Ladismith to the main line at Touws River. The link provided an outlet to markets for farmers to sell their products. In 1981 a tremendous flood severely damaged the railway line, and is now replaced by road transport.

Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith:

Lieutenant General, Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith, known as Sir Harry Smith, was a notable English soldier and military commander in the British Army in the early 1800s. He is particularly remembered as the hero of the Battle of Aliwal (India) in 1846.

In 1828, Smith was ordered to the Cape of Good Hope, where he commanded a division in the Xhosa Wars of 1834-36. In 1835 he accomplished the feat of riding from Cape Town to Grahamstown in less than six days. 

Lady Juana Smith:

Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith, Lady Smith was the wife of Sir Harry Smith. Born into an old Spanish noble family, in 1812 at the age of fourteen, she found herself orphaned when her home town Badajoz was besieged for the fourth time during the Spanish Peninsular War. After the siege ended in a successful but very bloody storming by the British and Portuguese forces, the sisters sought protection from the plundering and pillaging soldiers by some British officers they found camping outside the city walls. One of them was Brigade-Major Harry Smith, of the elite 95th Rifles scout regiment, whom she married a few days later.

She chose to accompany him and remained with him throughout the rest of the war. Her beauty, courage, sound judgment and amiable character endeared her to the officers, including the Duke of Wellington, who spoke of her familiarly as Juanita and she was idolised by the soldiers.

Known as Lady Smith in her later years, Juana Smith is commemorated directly in the name of Ladysmith in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and Ladismith in the Western Cape, as well as indirectly in the name of Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada.

Lady Smith is sometimes said to have introduced the cantaloupe or muskmelon (Cucumis melo cantalupensis) to South Africa, where she eat it every day for breakfast. The farm workers then started referring to it as spanspek (or spanspec or sponspe(c)k), which in Afrikaans literally means Spanish bacon. 

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Open Africa Routes

A route is a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants. It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary.

South Africa - Western Cape

South Africa - Western Cape

The Kanna Biodiversity Experience is situated in the Little Karoo Priority Area of the Succulent Karoo. This is in the eastern part of the Western Cape and forms part of the scenic Route 62. Towns that form part of this route are Ladismith, Van Wyksdorp, Zoar, Calitzdorp and De Rust.

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Alistair Reizenberg

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birding western-cape ladismith 4x4 calitzdorp escape zoar adventure amalienstein food van-wyksdorp

 

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