Calvinia is the second-largest town in Namaqualand and, in keeping with the reputation of others in the region, is popular during the spring flower extravaganza. The town is a compact collection of streets, houses and shops at the base of the Hantam Mountains on the R27, 70km from its nearest neighbour, Nieuwoudtville.
There are a number of architectural styles from the Cape Dutch era through to Art Deco and modern. An icon of the town, and popular with visitors, is the Hantam Huis, which was built in 1854 and has been well preserved in its original state.
Adjoining the town to the north is the Akkerendam Nature Reserve, which spreads across the smoothly curving mountain slopes and is particularly attractive during flower season. With the open veld around Calvinia interspersed with soaring mountains, it has a pleasant outdoors feel and is a good place to lace up one’s hiking boots and set off on foot. It has enough tourist facilities to offer the visitor a pleasant stay.
Look out for
Wild flowers in spring are the main attraction here when they carpet the veld in and around Calvinia after good winter rains. From the town there are several drives taking in the flower spectacle, and some farms in the area allow visitors to drive around the fields and get close to an amazing array of blooms.
Akkerendam Nature Reserve, north of town, is great for walking or driving around and has great views. It’s a good spot for spring flowers. There are two trails across the Hantam Mountains and hikers may even spot the rare Sterboom (star tree), or some of the 65 bird species found here.
Giant post box - a bit of a curiosity and one feature of the town that visitors can’t miss.
Hantam Huis - this restored Cape Dutch building comprises a coffee shop, museum, dining area and groaning shelves of items for sale, such as prickly pear syrup, skuinskoek, Black Nightshade jam and pomegranate liqueur.
The Museum is in an art deco synagogue with a class 24 steam-locomotive and tender out front.