About R354 Sutherland to Matjiesfontein

The tarred R354 between Matjiesfontein and Sutherland (110km) is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the Western Cape. It’s also one of the best-kept-secrets, known only by those who head en masse to the Tankwa Karoo’s AfrikaBurn who use part of the route before turning off the R354, or Capetonians who have discovered the allure of Sutherland.

The R354 connects Matjiesfontein, just off the N1, with Calvinia, passing briefly through Sutherland before continuing to Calvinia (to reach SALT the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, and one of the largest in the world, you take the R356 east out of town).

The drive to Sutherland lacks the impact of the return journey. It is the way back down the R354 that is the clincher, descending from the Roggeveld across the Komsberg range over passes with names like Verlatekloof, Rooikloof and Turck se Pas.

As far as visual impact is concerned, the scenery is sublime. The combination of flowers in spring, the undulations of hill after hill in a continuous descent with consistent views out over valleys, is hard to beat. Best driven in the early morning, or early evening, during summer, or during the months of spring when the erica is in flower, this route will having you pulling over onto the shoulder of the road more times than you can count for photo opportunities.

The drive is about an hour and a half in one direction, with enough scenery to keep you occupied and the Hokaai Padstal (Verlatenkloof Guest Farm) just after a major bend in the road on the Verlatenkloof Pass at a perfect juncture for coffee, jams, biscuits and rusks.

To make a day of it add the detours to Ceres and/or the Tankwa Karoo National Park. For off road bikes these additional dirt roads are popular. Or extend the drive by continuing to Calvinia, stopping in Middelpos - the tiny village about which actor, Sir Anthony Sher, writes in his book about his relatives; wandering traders, who once lived here in the middle of nowhere.

You can cycle the route as well.

Need to Know

WhereThe R354 lies between Sutherland and Matjiesfontein, Karoo, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

How muchFree

OvernightStay nearby in Sutherland, in Northern Cape

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