South-Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and we’re not saying that just because we live here… For example did you know that there is a town called Lekkersing or what about the village called Xikhumalo? Probably not, we didn’t either to be honest, that is until we got hold of the book A-Z Place Names of South Africa by Ann Gadd.
The reason for this is probably that every time we go on holiday we are in such a hurry to get to our destination that we don’t notice all the little small beautiful towns along the way. Here is a list of our favourite off-the-beaten-track places from the book worth a stop. We dare you to pick the closest one this weekend and make a road trip of it!
It is a rural town located in the Eastern Cape Province it is situated near the Great Winterberg Mountain range. Known for wool and sheep farming, this little town is worth a stop to sample the traditional cooking and have a beer at a local shebeen, watch dancing and buy some beadwork.
A town in the Mpumalanga Province it is situated in the De Kaap Valley and is fringed by the Makhonjwa Mountains. The second oldest cycle tour in the country, the Jock Cycle Tour, takes place here.
It is located in the Western Cape Province. Bobby Hendricks, famous for the hit song ‘Give me hope, Joanna’ was born here. Visit the casino and place a bet or enjoy a cup of moerkoffie at Dassiefontein. The Caledon Country Fair is held in the Botanical Gardens during the first weekend of September.
A small village is located in the Northern Cape Province, worth a visit to explore Wonderwerk Cave and see artefacts and implements dating back 400,000 years.
Located in the Northern Cape Province, this is a World Heritage site for its natural and cultural importance. It was previously known as Stinkfontein (‘ stinking spring’). Stop to learn about the Bosluis Basters and the Namas at the museum. Enjoy some dumplings cooked in goat’s milk, or ride a donkey cart.
Located in the Western Cape Province, the name is of Dutch origin meaning ‘dale of mercy’ or ‘valley of grace’. You should stop to visit the Moravian mission church, which houses the oldest pipe organ in the country.
The name is said to come from the noise the sea makes when the waves crash to shore. This beautifully named town is located in the Eastern Cape. Stop to take a walk on the Beads Beach named after the pottery beads and gemstones found there.
Located in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. It was a residence and base of operations for Mahatma Gandhi and also the home for the first president of the African National Congress, John Langalibalele Dube. Stop to take the Inanda Heritage Trail, starting in the Phoenix settlement, where you can visit Gandhi’s house.
This town is located in the Eastern Cape Province and is home to the Kouga Mummy, the only mummy ever found in Southern Africa. It was discovered in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness in a cave and now resides in the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. Langkloof Bloeiselfees (‘Blossom Festival’) is held here around August and warrants a visit.
Located in the Eastern Cape Province and possibly named after the karee trees found there. Stop to explore the Oudebosch protea farm, which also has a coffee shop that serves fantastic roosterkoek.
This little town is located in the Northern Cape Province the name origin is Afrikaans meaning ‘pleasant/beautiful singing’. You should stop to take a donkey cart ride to the Skurwehoogte Caves nearby or visit the Kalkfontein farm to enjoy a traditional meal.
Located in the Eastern Cape Province this town has spectacular waterfalls, deep gorges and unspoiled beaches. You should definitely stay over at the Mbotyi River Lodge.
This town is the birthplace of the ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu and Evelyn Mase, the first wife of Nelson Mandela. It is located in the Eastern Cape Province. You should stop to take photographs and enjoy the spectacular scenery because this is regarded as one of the most beautiful areas in the Eastern Cape.
Op die berg
This town is located in the Western Cape Province, the name comes from Afrikaans meaning ‘on the mountain’. You can stop to go cherry picking or, if you’re lucky, you might see some snowfall in the winter.
This fisherman’s town is located in the Western Cape Providence and is known the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, built in 1936 that is the last manually controlled lighthouse in South-Africa. You should stop to try the great food at Square Spoon and Gaaitjie Salt Water.
This town is known as the ‘Rose capital of South-Africa’ farming, it is located in the Eastern Cape Province. Why should you stop? Visit the Memorial Gardens and the Walter Everitt Sunken Gardens, or have a picnic at the Berry Reservoir.
This town is located in the Northern Cape Province. In the 1800s the European aristocratic patients with lung diseases such as whooping cough and tuberculosis would come here for the fresh air. You should stop because you wouldn’t want to miss the Bookbedonnerd Karoo Literary Festival in October.
Located in the Western Cape Province this town is known for some of the highest fossil dunes in South-Africa. You should stop to gaze out to sea and see if you can spot a school of humpback dolphins. The Wild Oats Market, held on every Saturday, is a must.
The name of this town means ‘head of the elephant’ in Venda, from the name given to the founder of the tribe. The town is located in the Limpopo Province and you should stop to explore the Dzala Ruins of the royal kraal of the Vhavenda kings.
This town is located in KwaZulu-Natal Province, the origin of the name is from the Mkomazi River, which is Zulu, meaning ‘whale-cow river’. You should stop because Umkomaas is the closest launch spot to the Aliwal Shoal, a volcanic reef about 5km offshore.
Located in the Western Cape Province, this charming town is best known for fruit farming. The Theewaterskloof dam nearby is the largest dam in the Western Cape. The Villiersdorp Agri & Arts Festival, held every October, is a highlight.
Located in KwaZulu-Natal Province the name means ‘to weep’. It is the second oldest European settlement in Natal. You should stop to go to the Weenan Game Reserve where there is vulture feeding displays. Between November and May you can also enjoy 30km of the most thrilling white water rafting in South-Africa.
Located in Limpopo Province, this tiny town is worth a stop for every amateur photographer because of the beautiful scenery.
This Western Cape town is known for its Sixteen Mile Beach, arguably the longest uninterrupted sandy beach on the South African coastline. The mentionable seafood makes it worth your while to visit the town. For delicious artisan treats head to Vygevallei Farm Stall where you can enjoy delights such as carrot and cardamom jam.
A small town located in the Free State Province. You should stop to visit the Hippopotamus Cave, named for the predominance of San hippo drawings.
So next time you are going on holiday and you drive past a small little town, stop and take some photographs of our country you might just be pleasantly surprised at what you find.
Compiled by Natassha Burrell