Calvinia

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Northern Cape Calvinia

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Introduction

Calvinia is a regional town in the Northern Cape province of South Africa named after the French religious reformer Jean Calvin. The town falls under the Hantam Local Municipality which forms part of the Namakwa District Municipality. The Calvinia district is part of the Great Karoo region of South Africa. The town is just south of the Hantam mountains on the banks of the Oorlogskloof (meaning "War Ravine") River. Calvinia enjoys 80% starlight and is renowned for its kaleidoscope of spring wildflowers coinciding with the Namaqualand wildflower spectacle. An asteroid (1245 Calvinia) is named after the town.

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Sights and Activities

The Calvinia Museum is housed in the former art deco styled Jewish synagogue built in 1920. The museum portrays the lives of the early European settlers. It displays a cedarwood horsemill and mounted Cape fat-tailed, Merino and Dorper sheep. Unusual specimens such as a 4-legged ostrich and genetically anomalous sheep can also be viewed.

The Akkerendam Nature Reserve is located three kilometers north of Calvinia. The reserve offers unique flowers and two hiking trails cross the Hantam mountains. The indigenous and rare sterboom (literally translated "star tree"; Cliffortia arboreais) can be seen here.

The Boekhuis (translated "Book House") was built in 1860 by Jacobus Nel van der Merwe in Cape Dutch style with a concave-convex gable. This historical T-shaped house in Water Street is made available for the exclusive use of writers.

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Events and Festivals

The Hantam Meat Festival, an agricultural show and great barbecue (Afrikaans "braai"), takes place every year in late August.

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Weather

The average summer temperature is 22 °C, with peaks above 40 °C. The average winter temperature is 10 °C but can fall to -8 °C. On the surrounding mountains, snow falls regularly.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Big cities and most of the popular places in the country usually have an internet café though they are not as abundant as in, for example, Asia or South America. It's also relatively expensive, usually 20-30 rand an hour, sometimes even more. Many of the accommodation options have internet access available, either wireless with your own laptop or by their own computer(s). Wireless access is also available throughout the country in more and more cafes and eateries, sometimes free and sometimes for a small fee. Note that you usually have to login anyway and agree with the terms and conditions. It is cheapest to buy a prepaid cell phone starter pack (less than R10) and access the Internet with GPRS or 3G. Generally R2 per MB for out of bundle data from most providers (50c for Virgin Mobile), but it becomes a lot cheaper if you buy a data bundle. In general coverage is good except the more rural parts of the northern and northwestern parts of the country (especially Northern Cape).

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

South Africa's country code is 27. Telephone numbers in South Africa are 10 digits, including the local area code. There are also some prefixes like 0800 (toll free), 0860 (charged as local call) and 0861 (flat-rate calls). The general emergency number is 10111, ambulance is 10177 and police is 1011.

South Africa has very good phone facilities, which are also becoming more and more competitively priced, now that more operators are active on the market. The main ones are Neotel and Telkom South Africa. Local phone calls are cheap (about one Rand an hour), domestic long-distance calls are about twice as expensive. International calls start at around 6 Rand an hour but can be (much) higher to less usual countries. Note that public phones are about twice as cheap as new private phone centres. Phone calls tend to be the cheapest during the weekend and during business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm) on weekdays and more expensive during the evening and nights at weekdays.

There are also good mobile-phone facilities, with GSM and 3G networks. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile and 8ta. SIM card prepaid starter kits are available from R10. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls. You can buy credit for prepaid phones just about everywhere, remembering you will usually need cash to do so from service stations.

Post

The SAPO (South African Post Office) is the nation's postal service. They have a track & trace system for parcels as well. Post offices are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Domestic and international deliveries are reliable but can sometimes take up to several weeks. If you want to send something oversees of any value, try using one of the private mail services, like Postnet. Also international courier companies like TNT, UPS and DHL tend to be fast, very reliable and competitively priced.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 12:45 on Aug 2, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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