“Gateway to the Universe”
The Karoo is not as much a place as a feeling, it enters through your bloodstream – taking its time to unfold until its time to leave, then you realise it's taken a hold of your soul…
Why Sutherland? Because it is the best stargazing close to Cape Town! If you are looking or dramatic landscapes, amazing stargazing, and endless head space then you should be packing and on your way to Sutherland.
Sutherland, known for its snow and stars is also well known as the coldest place in South Africa and home to the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere …. A telescope so strong that one could see a candle flame on the moon. But over and above the snow and stars there are so much more to this mystical town.
After you have flirted with the Milky Way it is time to explore Sutherland which has a rich history dating back to 1855.
As one of the locals once said : “The town is not particularly pretty and the people aren’t particularly nice, but there is some magick here”
The tiny Karoo town of Sutherland has about 4500 inhabitants. The only tar road in town is the 1km long main road, whilst the side roads are all gravel adding to the Platteland charm that it oozes. The town has an OK Food Store, Liquor Store, Butcher shop, Absa, Capitec and Standard Bank ATM’s, a post office, two fuel stations, police station, number of churches and a farmer’s co-op.
Snowfall is common in winter and the coldest temperature recorded in Sutherland was -16.4 degrees on 12 July 2003.
The SAAO (South African Astronomical Observatory) takes advantage of the local climate and remoteness of the Sutherland District. The area is cloudless for most of the year and also very underdeveloped with clear unpolluted and very dark skies, except for an inverted “blanket” made of zillions of stars which looks like someone had thrown a bucket of glitter into the sky.
Let’s start at the beginning : Where is Sutherland? This little town can be found in a relatively remote part of the country and is not on any major highway. It is, however, a little more than 100km from the N1 and merely a short left at Matjiesfontein. Once you turn off onto the R354 at Matjiesfontein, you follow the winding tar road into the desolate and dramatic landscape of the Karoo, leading you up, up and up to the little town at the top. Your adventure starts here. About a 3.5 hour drive from Cape Town, Sutherland is an excellent weekend getaway for romantics, families, avid stargazers and the off-the-beaten-track travellers.
“When the sun goes down and you have kept your eye on the ground the whole day, it’s time to look up, beyond South Africa, beyond this planet …. It is time to give the universe a good gander. Because you see, at Sutherland in the Northern Cape, you’ll get one of the best views of the universe this world has to offer.”