Northern Cape DestinationsSutherland, Upper Karoo
Mention the town of Sutherland and most people will know that this is the place people go to look at the skies. And they would be right. Almost 120 kilometres due north of Matjiesfontein in the Roggeveld of the Karoo, Sutherland is a space of clear, dark night skies. It's where one can marvel at the star scapes that sweep the outer limits, and where astronomers come to use the telescopes of the South African Astronomical Observatory.
But Sutherland's awe inspiring skies are but one of the attractions for visiting. It's in the middle of nowhere - obviously or those night skies wouldn't be what they are - which means people visit here to escape from everything, and it's also one of the coldest towns in the country (other than Bufffelsfontein) with frequent snow falls during winter, the looming Roggeveld Mountains bedecked in snow.
Sutherland is also close to the sites of unique corbel houses. Corbel houses are only found in this region in and around the towns of Fraserburg, Williston and Carnarvon. They look something like stone beehives and were built from flat stones common to the area where wood was not available.
Wheat chaff and sand were mixed with water to use as 'cement' or a binding material, or whenever farmers in the area could, they used the sand from ant hills as it apparently has unbelievable binding properties. Usually the corbel home had but one door, a window, and a domed roof with openings in the top, which could be covered when it rained.
And if you're interested, to the south of Sutherland is an eroded volcano by the name of Salpeterkop. But if you've come to Sutherland, chances are that all you want to do is kick back, look at the stars, and brood on how often you can escape the city.
If you are planning a trip to Sutherland you may find this article useful: "Sutherland, the coldest town in South Africa".