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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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
With ratings from actual guests: