Maps & Info

Maps & Info Thankfully, the roads today are a lot better

Getting to Sutherland

Long before the modern road and rail system, getting to Sutherland called for plenty of grit. The closest railway station was at Matjiesfontein, 110km to the south. From there, the mail and goods had to be hauled by wagon, a four-day trek across expanses of Karoo flatlands culminating in a bone-jarring heave over the Verlatenkloof and Rooikloof passes of the Roggeveld mountains. There’s still a sign at the bottom of the Verlatenkloof Pass warning: “Fasten safety belts and remove dentures”.

The topmost, steepest section of the pass is called Dankie-en-asseblief (thank you and please), “thank you” because the wagon made it to the top and “please” to ask for help the next time.

Today it’s much easier.

Sutherland is in a remote area of the Northern Cape province. Unless you’re flying in by small plane – in which case you will be able to land at Sutherland’s airstrip – getting there involves driving significant distances along some of the country’s major road arteries. South Africa’s national highways are well-maintained and will take road travellers most of the way to Sutherland before it’s necessary to branch onto smaller roads. 

Distances by road from major South African centres:

From Cape Town: 350km.
This is the most common route. Take the N1 north. At Matjiesfontein, follow the Calvinia signs. Stay on this road all the way through the town and keep driving. The road is tarred all the way to Sutherland.

Distance by road from other centres:

From Durban: 1 248km
From Johannesburg: 1 150km
From Bloemfontein: 763km
From Kimberley: 668km
From Pietermaritzburg: 1 202km
From Grahamstown: 662km