Information

Caledon is situated on the N2 national road in the Overberg region in the Western Cape province of South Africa, located about 113 kilometres (70 mi) east of Cape Town next to mineral-rich hot springs. As of 2011 it had a population of 13,020. It is located in, and the seat of, the Theewaterskloof Local Municipality. The Caledon district is primarily an agricultural region.

 

Most agricultural activities involve grain production with a certain amount of stock farming. The town is locally well known for the Caledon Spa and Casino and for its rolling hills and yellow canola fields in spring. The town has a Mediterranean climate of warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters.

 

Temperatures are modified by its close proximity to the South Atlantic Ocean, just over the Klein River Mountains to the south. The place was originally known in Dutch as “Bad agter de Berg” (Bath Behind the Mountain). A bath house was built in 1797 and a village called Swartberg sprang up, which was later renamed Caledon in honor of the Irish peer Du Pre Alexander.

The early Khoi-Khoi people discovered the springs long before Europeans came to the Cape. Only after Europeans settled in the Cape, the Caledon springs became increasingly famous. Actual development started in 1710 when Ferdinand Appel secured a grant of 10 ha in the area on condition that he erects a building for the use of visitors to the curative waters. However, the Bot River, a days journey by wagon from the springs, is indicated on a map dated 1662 and it is thus likely that the mineral waters were visited well before the 18th century.

 

The hot springs at Caledon became popular and was developed as the years passed.  Seven springs of chalybeate (iron rich) water originally bubbled to the surface, one of which was cold and the other six thermal. The water, in contact with rocks heated by pressure deep under the ground, is warmed to a steady temperature of approximately 50°C, with just less than 1 000 000 liters reaching the surface each day.  Just like other natural springs in South Africa, the thermal springs of Caledon are not related to volcanic activity. The principal feature of the water, besides its warmth, is that it’s free of any organic matter and contains a large amount of iron. Samples of Caledon’s mineral spring water were submitted in 1893 to the greatest exhibition of the time, the Chicago World Fair. The water was awarded first prize as one of the world’s top quality mineral waters.

A full century elapsed before the farming community increased sufficiently to warrant the establishment of a drostdy and a church in the area. The government’s decision to create a sub-drostdy at Caledon was taken in March 1810 and five months later, four local farmers, Wessel Wessels, Philipus de Bruyn, Johannes Marais and Hans Swart requested permission to build a church with the aid of government.  In April 1811 Caledon received its first deputy landdrost (magistrate, subordinate to Swellendam) and in 1813 the first Dutch Reformed church was consecrated.  Besides provision for the officials and the minister, seventeen plots were surveyed, fifteen along the Ou Wagen Weg (Mill Street) and two in Church Street.

 

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Caledon developed slowly in the early years as it served a poor farming community, and water in the village was scarce.  The only sources were the hot springs and the Drinkwaterskloof in the Swartberg and both were limited.  By the 1840’s the conversion to the wool producing Merino sheep was causing a silent revolution in the district. From having been a very poor grain producing area, the Overberg became one of the most prosperous farming districts in the Colony and the growing wool exports were reflected in the remarkable growth in the village of Caledon.

The average Caledon temperature is mild because it lies close to the coast,Weather during summer can get as hot as 30-40ºC (90-110°F).

January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year.

In winter, temperature can be as cold as -1°C, averaging between 10-20ºC (50-70°F).

Seasons and clothing requirements

As Caledon lies in the Southern Hemisphere, it has opposite seasons to those living in the northern half of the world.

Summer: December – February

Summer in Caledon is moderate to hot, with temperatures hovering around 20-35 degrees celsius. In most places you can wear shorts and a t-shirt or singlet during the day, adding a light jumper at night.

Autumn/Fall: March – May

Temperatures during this time are a little cooler than summer but theCaledon weather can be excellent. Suitable clothing includes light pants or shorts, and a t-shirt or long-sleeved top. It can cool off at night more during this season, so make sure you are prepared with a warm sweater.

Winter: June – August

Winter in Caledon brings colder weather to much of the country, with snow in the south and rain in the north. You’ll need jeans, long-sleeved tops and coats in most places, and if you’re heading into the mountains thermals, gloves and thick sweaters are also a good idea.

Spring: September – November

Spring brings weather of all types – expect everything from cold, frosty, clear days to sunny and hot. Make sure you are prepared for this type of weather if you are visiting during this time. Jeans are good and layers work well on top, as they can be added and removed depending on what the weather brings.

Four Seasons in One Day

Caledon weather can change unexpectedly. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature if you’re going hiking or doing other outdoor activities.

Planning a trip to Caledon?

This section has important and practical travel information we recommend you read before you depart.

Travel to Caledon is pretty simple but there are a few things that may be different to your home country. A little prior research will have you better prepared and ensure you make the most of your holiday.

 

Whether it’s learning about our currency, familiarising yourself on the requirements for driving in South Africa or contacting a Visitor Information Centre for local information on what to see and do, our travel guide will help you out with everything you need to know.

Currency & Banks

Caledon’s unit of currency is the South African Rand (ZAR). All major credit cards can be used in South Africa, with Visa and MasterCard accepted most widely.

There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought in or taken out of South Africa. However, every person who carries more than R10,000 ZAR in cash in or out of South Africa is required to complete a Border Cash Report.

 

Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres.

 

Banking in South Africa

The main networks are:

 

South African banks are open from:

Monday to Friday 09h00 – 15h30

Saturday 08h30 – 11h00

Note:Some branches have extended opening hours (8am to 5pm). Please contact your specific branch to confirm.

 

Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.

International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving home.

 

Currency values

  • Coins have values of 10c, 20c and 50c cents, R1, R2 & R5
  • Notes have values of R10, R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200

 

How Much Will it Cost?

Here is a general guide of what you can expect to pay in Caledon for a few common items.

A hotel breakfast: R150 – R200
Dinner: R100 – R300 per main meal
Cafe lunch: R50 – R100
Cappuccino: R25 – R30

 

Tipping and Service Charges

Tipping in Caledon is not obligatory – even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for good service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in Caledon do not add service charges to their bills.

 

Credit cards with “Smart Card” technology

Smart cards are payment cards that carry an embedded microchip allowing them to store encrypted, confidential information, and carry multiple applications from different industries alongside debit, credit, or prepaid payment applications. Please note these cards, which often have no magnetic strip, are generally accepted anywhere in Caledon that has credit card facilities.

Mobile Operators & Internet access

Staying connected to the internet throughout your travels is easy with a little bit of planning when you first arrive.

 

Mobile networks in South Africa

The main networks are:

 

You’ll need to take your mobile device(s) into a branch when you first arrive to purchase your pack. Use the branch locator to find the most convenient location for you.

If you’re looking to use a combination of devices to connect to the internet, it is most cost-effective to set up your phone as a wireless hotspot that your other devices can run off as well. You can purchase data packs that expire after a certain amount of time. The network you choose will advise you on what will work best for your needs.

If you choose to purchase a mobile data pack with Telecom, you’ll be eligible to access their free WiFi hotspots, dotted throughout the country.

Driving in South Africa

What should you know before driving in South Africa?

If you’re used to driving in the city, you should take care when driving on South Africa‘s open country roads. We have a good motorway system but weather extremes, the terrain and narrow secondary roads and bridges require drivers to be very vigilant.

 

Important road rules

  • Always drive on the left-hand-side of the road.
  • Always keep on or below the legal speed limits indicated on road signs. The maximum speed on any open road is 120km/h. The maximum speed in urban areas is 60km/h. Adjust your speed as conditions demand.
  • When traffic lights are red you must stop. When traffic lights are amber you must stop unless you are so close to the intersection it is unsafe to do so.
  • Do not pass other cars where there are double yellow lines – these indicate that it’s too dangerous to overtake.
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts or child restraints at all times, in both front and rear seats.
  • Do not drink and drive. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in South Africa and strictly enforced by police, with severe penalties for offenders.
  • Signposting follows standard international symbols and all distances are in kilometres (km).

 

Drive to the road conditions

  • Don’t underestimate driving times. Although distances may seem short, South African roads often include hilly, narrow or winding terrain, which slow down your journey. If you’re used to driving in the city, take care when driving on the open country roads, and watch out for single-lane bridges.
  • Road conditions are variable. Off the main highways some roads may be unsealed and extra care needs to be taken. A few of these roads are not safe for vehicles and insurance does not cover them – ask your rental car company to mark these roads on your map before setting off.

 

Don’t drive tired

  • Get plenty of sleep before a long drive. Take regular breaks – one every two hours.
  • Never drive if you are feeling tired, particularly after you have just completed a long-haul flight.

 

Cycles and Motorbikes

  • Helmets for riders of cycles and motorbikes must be worn at all times.
  • Rear and front lights on cycles are required at night.
  • Motorbikes should drive with a headlight on at all times.
  • Cycling is not permitted on motorways.

 

International Driving Licences and Permits

You can legally drive in South Africa for up to 12 months if you have either a current driver’s licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP). After 12 months you are required to convert to a South Africa licence. This applies to each visit toSouth Africa.

 

In South Africa all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their licence or permit at all times when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. The common legal age to rent a car in South Africa is 18 years.

 

Make sure your driver’s licence is current. If your licence is not fully written English, you must bring an English translation with you or obtain an IDP. Contact your local automobile club for further details about obtaining a translation or an IDP.

 

It is important to note that if you are caught driving without an acceptable IDP, you may be prosecuted for driving unlicensed or for driving without an appropriate licence. You will be liable for an infringement fee of R1000, or up to R10,000 if you are convicted in court.

 

The Police also have the power to forbid an unlicensed driver to drive until they have an appropriate licence. If you continue to drive after being forbidden, the vehicle you are driving will be impounded for 28 days, at the vehicle owner’s expense. You may also risk not being covered by your insurance in the event of a crash.

Health and Safety

South Africa is unfortunately not the safest place to travel with a relatively high crime rate.

 

This is why you should take the same care with your personal safety and your possessions as you would in any other country, or at home. Take copies of your important documents (like your passport and credit cards), and keep them separate from the originals. You should also keep a record of the description and serial number of valuable items (like digital cameras). And remember, in an emergency dial 10111.

 

Keeping yourself safe

  1. Carry a mobile phone and don’t hesitate to dial South Africa’s emergency phone number if you feel unsafe or threatened – dial 10111.
  2. Travel with someone you know and trust whenever possible.
  3. We recommend you don’t accept rides from strangers and don’t hitchhike.
  4. If you’re out at night, keep to well lit places where other people are present. Don’t take short cuts through parks or alleyways. Take a taxi or get a ride with someone you know.
  5. Avoid accepting drinks from strangers and never leave your drink unattended.
  6. Carry a basic first-aid kit for use in emergencies.

 

Keeping your possessions safe

  1. Always lock your accommodation and vehicle and keep windows secure when you’re not around.
  2. Store valuables securely, ideally in a safe at your accommodation. Never leave valuables or important documents in parked vehicles.
  3. Never leave bags, backpacks, wallets or cameras unattended in any public place, especially airports or bus/railway stations.
  4. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or expensive jewellery.
  5. If withdrawing money from a machine, withdraw small amounts only – preferably during the day – and shield your pin.
  6. Don’t leave maps, luggage or visitor brochures visible in your vehicle. These are obvious signs that you are a tourist and may have valuables.
  7. If you are travelling by campervan, park it in designated areas whenever possible.

If any of your possessions are stolen or valuable items misplaced, advise local police as soon as possible.

 

Getting Help

The emergency telephone number in South Africa is 10111. It is a free phone call. If you have an emergency and need a quick response from the Police, the Fire Service, Ambulance or Search and Rescue, dial 10111.

There are Police Stations in all main towns and cities in South Africa and in many rural locations. Contact details can be found in local telephone books.

Don’t hesitate to contact the police if you feel unsafe or threatened. Report any theft and crime to the police immediately.

 

Safety in the outdoors

People can sometimes get caught out by South Africa’s rugged terrain and unpredictable weather.

Seven safety tips to help you stay safe in South Africa’s great outdoors:

  1. Plan your trip: Seek local knowledge and plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.
  2. Tell someone: Tell someone your plans and leave a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned. Leave a detailed trip plan with the Department of Conservation (DOC) or a friend including a “panic” date, the more details we have about your intentions, the quicker you’ll be rescued if something goes wrong.
  3. Be aware of the weather: South Africa’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes
  4. Know your limits: Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Going with others is better than going alone
  5. Take sufficient supplies: Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication such as a mobile phone and battery powered radio.
  6. Don’t rely on cell phone coverage and consider using a personal locator beacon, especially if you’re travelling alone
  7. If lost, seek shelter and stay where you are. Use a torch/camera flash to attract attention at night. Try and position something highly coloured and visible from the air to help a helicopter search during the day.

 

Other safety precautions in the outdoors

Although there are no snakes or dangerous wild animals inSouth Africa, you should be aware of the following:

  • Giardia: Giardia is a water-borne parasite that causes diarrhoea. To avoid contracting it, it is best not to drink water from lakes, ponds or rivers without first boiling, chemically treating or filtering it.
  • Sunburn: South Africa’s clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce sunlight stronger than much of Europe or North America, so be prepared to wear hats and sun block if you plan to be out in the sun for more than 15-20 minutes.

 

Safety in the water

South Africa’s extensive coastline and network of waterways provide ample opportunity for swimming, boating and fishing. However many people are unprepared for the potential dangers of the water.

  1. If in doubt, stay out.
  2. Never swim or surf alone, or when cold or tired.
  3. Swim between the flags. Beaches with potential hazards are often patrolled by lifeguards, who put up yellow and red flags. Between these flags is the safest place to swim. Listen to advice from life guards.
  4. If you have children with you, watch over them at all times.
  5. Learn to recognise ocean rip currents.

 

Medication and vaccinations

Visitors bringing in a quantity of medication are advised to carry a doctor’s certificate to avoid possible problems with South Africa Customs. Doctor’s prescriptions are needed to obtain certain drugs in South Africa.

Flowers & Birds

Trees and shrubs

You’ll be awed by the South Africa’s majestic varied forests that include fynbos, many varieties of trees, and baobabs. Underneath the trees you’ll find a dense and luxurious undergrowth including countless native shrubs, a variety of ferns, and many and mosses.

 

Splashes of colour

An array of colourful colours are to be seen around Caledon’s farm lands from the bright yellow canola fields to the flowing green wheat fields. In spring there is an abundance of wild flowers growing in Caledon’s wild flower garden.

 

Blue Cranes

On the Caledon blue crane route the highlight is undoubtedly sightings of the country’s graceful national bird. This route through the beautiful Overberg region is a fine road trip of majestic bird life, rolling grain fields and interesting stopovers leading down to the southern Cape coastline.

The central character on the Caledon blue crane route in the Overberg area of the Western Cape is South Africa’s national bird. You’ll find plenty of blue cranes in this incredibly fertile wheat- and barley farming area as you drive along the N2 highway from Cape Town. The farmers themselves, proud of the cranes, initiated the route.

The blue crane is one of Africa’s stateliest birds. Its feathers have been worn by royalty, its face has adorned the South African 5c piece and the sight of flocks settling across the fields of the Overberg is a majestic one.

The best way to enjoy a Caledon blue crane route is to pull over, cut the engine, stay in your car and take out the long camera lens or binoculars. These birds are easily startled and you may expose some freshly laid crane eggs to the elements and various predators by chasing the adults away.

Caledon is but one town in the Overberg region. A drive through the area is balm for the soul. There are charming roadside shops, picnic spots, small towns and landscapes to enjoy, and in no time you’re on the rocks at Walker Bay in Hermanus, watching the evening parade of Southern Right whales and their calves showing off in the waters below – a non-avian perk of this South African bird tour.

From Hermanus, move on to Stanford and then Gansbaai, where the adventurous go out to sea and dive with great white sharks. From there, one crosses the Agulhas Plain to beautiful Arniston and then to Bredasdorp via the Moravian village of Elim. All along the way, there are possible sightings of blue cranes.

Photos by : Vincent van Oosten