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The coldest place in Africa blessed with an abundance of stars

Visit Sutherland Northern Cape South Africa Coldest place in Africa and do stargazing

Discover the warm welcome of the Northern Cape

The village or town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape province of South Africa might not be a tourist destination with white sandy beaches or grand shopping centers, but it sure is special.

Here, almost in the middle of nowhere, this beautiful little town of Sutherland is home to SALT (Southern Africa Large Telescope) the biggest telescope in Africa.  

What is Sutherland famous for?

Due to the fact that this small village is situated far from the city, it is the perfect place to do stargazing and that is exactly what it’s famous for.  Being halfway between Chile and Australia, it was the perfect place to set up the telescope.  But Sutherland is also famous for being the coldest place in South Africa during winter, so when you go for your visit, do take warm clothes (and maybe extra socks, and scarves, and another jacket, and….).  The coldest temperature recorded here was -16.4 degrees on 12 July 2003.

This tiny Karoo town has only one tar road which is the 1km long main road.  The rest are all gravel roads.  You’ll find no big shopping centers, but a food stoor and ATM and fuel stations as well as a number of churches, etc.

Where is Sutherland?

You’ll have to travel by car:

It is an approximate 3 hr 50 min (344 km) car ride from the Cape Town International Airport.

How to get there:

From the airport, you’ll take the R300 towards the N1.  Continue on the N1 for about 2 hr 39 min (233,5 km).

At the Matjiesfontein turn off you turn left.  From there it is about a 1 hr 13 min (113 km) drive via the R354.

 

Dorp van die jaar finalis 2019 - Sutherland - Kwȇla | kykNET

In 2019 the town was nominated as a “Town of the year finalist” by KykNET.  The video is in Afrikaans (the language spoken by most of the local residents), but it will give you an idea of what to expect when you visit.

When is the best time to visit

The best time to visit Sutherland is actually during winter (July to August) – this is strangely enough the best time to visit the planetarium and see the stars.  Furthermore it is also freezing cold during that time of the year, but everything turns into a beautiful winter wonderland of white fluffy snow.  (Something special for those of us in South Africa not used to seeing snow every winter.)  From September to October you’ll find it to be the best time for hiking – during early spring time.  This is also a magical time to visit this quiet little town in the Karoo.  A time when nature comes to life.

Things to do in Sutherland

  • 23 Km before Sutherland, you’ll see “Hokaai Padstal / Verlatenkloof Farm stall” – this Fram stall is the perfect stop for some local produce.
  • You have to visit the big Telescope SALT.  To arrange for visits or get more information, visit their website:  https://www.saao.ac.za/
  • Visit the planetarium
  • Star gazing sessions are presented throughout the year, but you have to book in advance.  Stargazing at the Sutherland Planetarium (Tel: 078 603 0058) Every evening, weather permitted from 20h00. 
  • Visit the Louw Huis Museum (Home of writer NP van Wyk Louw)
  • Middelfontein offers walking trails with beautiful scenery and flowers, especially in springtime.  Walking the Footpath of the passionate shepherd is a special experience.
  • Mountain biking
  • Mountain climbing
  • Experience a Karoo sunset or sunrise and take in some quiet me-time
  • Located 15 minutes’ drive from Sutherland is the Rogge Cloof, a biosphere reserve in the Karoo region, which also offers accommodation.

Where to eat

In the heart of this historic town, you’ll find The Blue Moon Restaurant for traditional and delicious food.

While you’re in the area:

Where to stay in Sutherland

Find the best places to stay

Book with someone you can trust.

Also read about a beautiful place called Jasper in America.

Rogge Cloof

“Located 15 minutes’ drive from Sutherland, Rogge Cloof is a biosphere reserve in the Karoo region that offers self-catering as well as all inclusive accommodation.

Some of the units at Rogge Cloof are equipped with a kitchenette and a spacious living area with dining table. Free WiFi is available.

Activities on site or in the surrounding area include game drives, wine tasting, star gazing, fossil hunting, hiking, cycling and volcano visits.” – Booking.com

Rogge Cloof

A 40 min drive from the South African Astronomical Observatory and SALT.

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