Great Salt Pans of the Northern Cape
Brandvlei lies in the heart of what is known as the Thirst Land or Dorsland in Afrikaans due to the lack of rain. The tiny town lies northwest of Loeriesfontein on the R357 and halfway between Calvinia and Kenhardt.
Brandvlei is situated in Bushman land. The region contains very little vegetation, primarily very low shrubs and yellow grass among a rocky desert kind of landscape. Travelling from Brandvlei towards Kenhardt you will pass through a huge landscape of nothingness for the next 200 km or more. This is saltpan country, and apart from sheep farming, Brandvlei is also the home of SALTCOR, one of the country's largest private salt producers, exporting worldwide.
An interesting fact about the area is that in 1929, Sir Malcolm Campbell unsuccessfully attempted to break the world land-speed record here by travelling over 300 mph in his Bluebird 1.
Driving around the area, you will see farms with some of the most exotically enchanting names around: Verdwaal Vley (Getting Lost Marsh), Varskans (Fresh Chance) and Handelkraal (Market Kraal).
Why would you visit I hear you ask – to get lost in the great nothingness, appreciate the birdlife on the salt pans after the summer rains (between November and March) and perhaps to Paraglide – the Karoo thermals are said to have helped people set world records here!
Brandvlei accommodation includes one or two Guesthouses and B&B’s in the vicinity of the town.
Things to do and see
- Brandvlei Dutch Reformed Church
- Lekkerlê and Kans Farms San Rock Art
- Verneuk Salt Pan
- Akkerendam Nature Reserve
Brandvlei receives approximately 149 mm of rain annually, mostly during the summer months. It is known as a desert climate with virtually no rainfall during the year.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 35˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 0˚C and 23˚C.
It is said that Brandvlei got its name when a Trekboer stopped over here for the night, alongside a dry riverbed, and forgot to extinguish his campfire and thereby setting the local bush alight. He was forever known as “Ou Brand”, meaning “Old Fire”, and the campsite was called Brandvlei (Burning Marsh).
The camp grew into a settlement and later into a town. But it was only when a flash flood cut this seriously remote little town in two, in 1961, that it got its own municipality - just after it recovered itself.
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