The religious reformer, John Calvin, would no doubt have been proud of the town named after him, at the foot of the Hantam Mountains and on the banks of the Oorlogskloof River. This town was founded in 1851 and was a hub of religious activity for the farmers of the district who came from all over in their ox-wagons to celebrate Nagmaal (Holy Communion). Today, this town is at the centre of one of the country’s largest wool-producing areas.
Adventure and Sport
4×4: Some of the farms have 4×4 trails. Most of the trails offer additional attractions, such as Anglo-Boer War sites, San rock art and (during the spring) wild flowers.
Hiking – Akkerendam Nature Reserve: Enjoy a hike in the shadows of the Hantam Mountains.
Fauna and Flora
Akkerendam Nature Reserve: The reserve lies just north of town, in the shadow of the Hantam Mountains. Enjoy the beautiful scenery, interesting plants, such as the sterboom (star tree) and listen to the voices of the many species of birds attracted by the presence of the Karee Dam.
Wild flowers: The farms of the district are the sites of magnificent wild-flower scenes during the flower season, just after the first spring rains.
History and Architecture
Calvinia Museum: The museum is housed in the Old Synagogue, built in 1920 in the art deco style. Its exhibits feature the lifestyle of the early European settlers and includes crockery, cutlery, costumes and furniture, as well as a cedarwood horse-mill.
Dutch Reformed Church: The stately church is a prime example of Neo-Gothic architecture.
Grave of Abraham Esau: Abraham Esau, the “Martyr of Calvinia”, was a collaborator of the British who was shot by Boer forces during the Anglo-Boer War.
Hantam House: This building, in Cape Dutch style, still has its original cedarwood woodwork and was built in 1854 by Field Cornet A van Wyk. Choose a traditional delicacy from the menu of the coffee house that was built in the original kraal (pen) of the dwelling.