Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Red Hills
The valley in which the little Karoo town of Calitzdorp rests, beneath its prominent red hills stretching, virtually, all the way to De Rust (you canít help but notice them whilst driving Route 62, particularly at sunrise or sunset when their vividness is accentuated), was once a lake.
It is small wonder then that the vines and other agriculture grown on either side of the Nels and Gamka Rivers is as productive as it is.
The locals call this Kannaland. But the explanation of these red hills dates way back to before the dawn of man when the continent of Gondwana split up setting Africa free from its attachment to South America and Australia, India and Antarctica. Over countless years the crust of the earth transformed itself, stretching and cracking with accompanying earthquakes and storms that left the earth irrevocably changed.
Africa slowly morphed into the continent we know today. The Oudtshoorn Basin emerged out of the crust extending west to Calitzdorp along the base of the Swartberg Mountains.
Rivers carried with them huge amounts of rock and scree to deposit them on the shores of lakes. Today these strange rocks that seem to have emerged out of nowhere are known as the Buffelskloof Formation.
Some of these rock sediments are rich in Hermatite, an iron mineral which oxidises in a humid climate into a reddish colour. These red, gravel sediments came to rest on the north side of the Oudtshoorn basin, but over 100 million years most of it has eroded, leaving only isolated koppies in a band that stretches between Calitzdorp and De Rust.
These are the Red Hills of Calitzdorp. Weathering over the years (although just how many years is difficult to gauge because there are virtually no fossil remains in the rocks) has broken through many of these leaving little overhangs, caves and some incredible features like Hole-in-the-Wall.
Getting there: To experience the hills take the 50 km round-trip along the Groenfontein road into the Red Hills via the Calitzdorp Dam (great to cool off en route).
Stay: We recommend Red Stone Hills self-catering