The A-Z of South African small towns: Part 1

small towns, south africa, road trip, travel, family, kid friendly, explore, discover, history, culture

Inspiration can strike in the strangest of places. When it comes to writing, I do whatever I can not to force the process and, more often than not, these posts write themselves in my (in one form or another) and bubble around until I can’t ignore it any more. Today, for example, was spent swimming in the sea. A sure fire way to ensure that I am physically tired enough to actually get some sleep for once. But alas, the post needed to come out so, here I am.

Now, when it comes to inspiration, this post came to mind in quite an ambitious way. How about an A-Z of South African small towns? I can already think of A through H…and then, I get stuck. Let’s not even think about XY and Z yet. Eish!

The concept isn’t bad though. I mean, it requires a commitment of around 26 posts and, if I do 1 every 2 weeks or so, there’s my whatchamacallit plan, right there! Except, won’t 26 posts along this similar line get a bit monotonous? And is there enough content about each town (without going into the history component) to warrant a read? I haven’t even started and already I have my reservations.

So, let’s see where this goes, shall we.

The A-Z of South African small towns

Ashton: this little town makes a great base for all sorts of exploring along Route 62. You’re in wine country, so there is a myriad of cellar tours and wine tastings for those in the know, but it is also the land of park your car at your chosen accommodation and explore the town on foot. Think along the lines of those old fashioned images you see when you look at history books. It’s a lot of old oak trees and kids playing games in the streets. It’s the kind of place where you can really disconnect from your hurried life style and take time to just sit on the stoep with a cup of tea.

When it comes to the surrounding towns, set aside a day to just pop in at the next town, park sort of near the centre and then explore that on foot too. Drive, park, walk and repeat – obviously stopping to enjoy the restaurants/farm stalls and taking in a tour or two.

Belvidere: B was a tough one. There seems to be quite a few perfectly nice towns that start with the letter B but Belvidere was the one that stood out for me. Look, Knysna is nice, ne but it was very fast paced for what used to be a small town. It’s all chain stores and franchise restaurants. But Belvidere is the place you actually want to get to know. Before we embarked on our road trip, I didn’t know anything about the actual small towns. To the point where I still considered Knysna to be one.

The boundaries of Belvidere seem a little amoeba-like but as long as you set out to find Castle Rock, you will see another side to this little harbour town, and get a true sense of the people who live there.

Camdeboo National Park: Yip, another letter that had a number of contenders. And yes, a National Park isn’t a small town in any sense of the word. But I chose it anyway because, while I didn’t really love Graaff-Reinet, I really loved The Valley of Desolation.

If you feel like you’ve lost your perspective on life, try spending a few hours looking over the valley of Graaff-Reinet from the viewpoint of rocks that have been around for a few million years. Breathtaking doesn’t really cover it.

Darling: This little town on the West Coast is known for Evita se Perron but it is also a brilliant base for the Wild Flower Festival held in September every year. While the post I have tagged doesn’t specifically relate to Darling, it gives you a good idea when it comes to planning your trip in September with options if you are looking for places to stay. Staying outside of Darling will also be a little cheaper and you don’t need to worry about crowds and traffic. 

Empangeni: Here is town that wouldn’t have even come up on our radar if we hadn’t been invited to stay at this long-stay accommodation. Who knew that when we decided to tackle TazzDiscovers Roadtrip 2.0, that staying here would have unlocked so many must see places, for us. Empangeni isn’t really a small town. I mean, relatively speaking it is fairly big and quite busy, but it still made a great base from which we visited Richard’s Bay, St Lucia and Shakaland.

The stand out here is just the hospitality we experienced. Never in my life have I felt so welcome and valued by a perfect stranger. Spider, it was an honour to meet you and we are so grateful for the opportunity and advice you gave us.

Fouriesburg: This little town on the border of Lesotho shouldn’t be confused with it’s neighbour, Ficksburg. While Ficksburg is known for their Cherry Festival, Fouriesburg is so tiny, you would literally miss it if you blinked.

This is the town I long to visit again simply to see the sunflowers in full bloom. As we visited near winter, all we managed to see was fields of dormant stalks but it made a brilliant spot to stop so that we could cross the border for the first time by popping over to Lesotho for the day.

George: G was another letter with many, many options to choose from but it is the ideal base if you want to explore the Garden Route as everything you want to see and do can be accessed from that central point. Not to miss spots include The Redberry Farm and The Outeniqua Transport Museum. The Garden Route is one of our favourite places to explore so we will tell you about a few more small towns in the area, a bit later.

Hogsback: I can’t explain this little town except to say it is magical. If you thought you don’t believe in fairies and pixies any more, Hogsback will get your imagination flowing again. The simpler life is what you can expect with neighbours getting involved and doing everything they can to help each other.

Ilha de Mozambique: The letter “I”was always going to give me some trouble, so I hope you will forgive me for going all international on you. Of the 2 islands we visited when we cruised on the MSC Symphonia, Ilha de Mozambique was my favourite. And it was more about the rose quartz lined streets and the charming little town, than it was about the fact that there weren’t any jellyfish to rudely interrupt your swim. Thanks for nothing Portuguese Islands 😉

This feels like a good place to stop for now. Are there any towns that you feel should have been mentioned? It would be a good way for us to create a new road trip bucket list so that we can be sure to comprehensively get to know our gorgeous country.

About TazzDiscovers 122 Articles
This is a family travel blog and we are based in Cape Town South Africa. Our daughter is 9 years old and our son is 12. We sold our house, switched mainstream school for home school and headed out on an 11 week road trip around South Africa in our Volkswagen Polo, to encourage others to invest in our beautiful country. We plan to explore Limpopo and the North West Province once we've managed to secure funds and a 4x4 so that we can also visit Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia. Contact us for unique, family friendly content about 7 of the 9 South African provinces tazzdiscovers@gmail.com

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