The town was first known as Trutro (pronounced Troe-Troe) but was changed to Vanrhynsdorp in 1881 to honour the Van Rhyn family for its contribution as community and church leaders. Vanrhynsdorp is in the wild-flower region but also has a rich variety of succulents, an unusual occurrence in this dry area. The Matzikamma Mountains add even more diversity to the lovely area. Discovering all the interesting sites in and around the town will keep you occupied for several days.
Adventure And Sport
Adventure Activities: Off-road motor cycling, 4×4 routes, paragliding, river-rafting, rock-climbing and swimming are some of the adventure opportunities.
Hiking: Several hiking trails traverse the region. The Succulent Hiking Trail leads through terrain where indigenous succulents are sure to be spotted. Snorkfontein is also a popular hiking destination and has camping facilities.
Mountain-climbing and biking: The Matzikamma Mountain Range presents many opportunities for mountain-climbing and mountain-biking.
Photography: Amateur and professional photographers are presented with views too lovely to ignore.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San Rock Art: Gifberg is the site of many paintings, most of which include the traditional San colours of red and yellow ochre. One exception is a black painting, which is believed to signify feelings of fear.
San Rock Art: The farm Papkuilsfontein lies some 51 km from the town. The rock painting on this farm depicts a snake-like figure, predominantly black, with a variety of attachments.
Wiedouw San Rock Art site: The site is small but the painting contains three interesting elements: elongated human figures, net-like images and handprints. The site lies in the Gifberg (“Poison Mountain”). The mountain owes its name to the profusion of beautiful chincherinchees which cover the mountain in springtime, but which are lethal to livestock.
Art And Crafts
Art and craft shops: The town of Vanrhynsdorp has many arts and crafts dealers, specialising in items such as veldskoene, photographs, iron candle-holders, paintings and pottery.
Olifants River Wines: The Namaqua wine centre sells exquisite wines and wine-tasting opportunities are also available.
Fauna And Flora
Black eagle: The black eagle is one of the most majestic feathered inhabitants of the region and is most often spotted at places such as Waterval and Vleiland Aves. The region has five different bird-watching routes to allow sightings of several species. The oxidation dams are also good bird-watching spots.
Fynbos: Gifberg contains many glorious species of fynbos.
Karoo vegetation: Many different species of flora and succulent indigenous to the Karoo cover the area.
Spring Flower Circle Route: The route visits all the spots where one is guaranteed the most beautiful views of the blooming wild flowers that adorn the region from July to September.
Urionskraal and Gifberg Roads: These are good night-drive routes if you wish to study the habits of some of the nocturnal animals that inhabit the area.
History And Architecture
Anglo-Boer War Route: The Anglo-Boer War Route visits spots in and around the town. Graves of fallen Boers and British soldiers, as well as the war headquarters and Jan Smuts residence, are located in Vanrhynsdorp.
Het Gesticht: Het Gesticht was the first meeting place of the Dutch Reformed Congregation.
Old Gaol: This prison dates back to 1895.
Van Rhyn Museum: This museum building dates back to 1897 and focuses on local history.
Rock formations: The rock formations of Knersvlakte, Maskam, Khobee and Ouberg Sandstone all date back millions of years. The area is very rich in different kinds of minerals and gemstone, such as marble, limestone and diamonds.
Nama-Karoo: As you travel through the Nama-Karoo, stop for a while and reflect on the fact that this landscape is over 650 million years old.
Observatory: The open-air observatory at Vanrhynsdorp offers spectacular star-gazing opportunities.