Anje Rautenbach is a Bay travel writer and a blogger who runs the travel blog, Going Somewhere Slowly. As a solo female traveller she discovers the nooks and crannies of the world in slow motion, fuelled by caffeine and a passion for storytelling
There is more to the Karoo than meets the eye; roads wind around the wrinkly creases of mountains, lone windmills groan in the air, and in the distance, the cracked semi-arid soil humbly bows to raindrops as it caresses the land.
Steytlerville is no different; there is more than meets the eye.
It is a town that will dazzle you with stoepstories, small-town treasures, starry nights, Karoo treats and wide open spaces – where divinities soar and dance on the plains – that will seep into your soul.
Head to the small Karoo town, less than 150km from Nelson Mandela Bay, to recharge, relax and rejuvenate your soul.
Take the road less travelled and steer your way to tranquility via the R329 and discover the town from the Valley of Flags, all the way through to the other end, where home- cooked meals await at Lizzy’s Khaya.
The best way to explore Steytlerville is to stop, walk and talk to the people of the town to get an authentic experience of the Karoo hospitality and stories, but if you want to get an idea of what is waiting for you less than two hours from Port Elizabeth, here are a few ideas of things to do and see in Steytlerville:
Valley of Flags
When you enter Steytlerville from Kleinpoort, on the R329, the Valley of Flags will greet you.
The Valley of Flags is a road gallery of South African flags, from 1474 until now, painted on the cliffs of the Noorspoort Pass by George Craven.
Cape Town has Table Mountain, but here in Nelson Mandela Bay and around the Eastern Cape’s Karoo land, we have the mighty Cockscomb Peak, the third highest peak in the Eastern Cape at 1768m.
Allow yourself a few good minutes (possibly hours) to just enjoy the lines and wrinkles of the peak (and the Groot Winterhoek Mountains); watch how it changes shape as you drive and let the mountain capture your soul.
When Steytlerville says “Welcome”, hit the brakes and stretch your legs. The open-air museum exhibits old farming implements and under the shade of a big old tree you can learn and read more about all the flags painted in the Valley of Flags.
The name of Steytlerville originated from Minister Steytler.
In 1907, the NG Church was inaugurated with an organ consisting of 1046 shiny pipes.
Today, this church still holds the record for being the biggest Edwardian-style church as it can seat 1200 members.
Karoo Theatrical Hotel
Every Saturday night, at the Grimaldi’s theatre of the Karoo Theatrical Hotel, an extravaganza of music, feathers, food, comedy and art paints the town in all shades of fabulous.
Wine and dine and enjoy the iconic Steytlerville Follies Dinner show, which has drawn crowds from all over South Africa.
The Veranda Coffee Shop
The Veranda Coffee Shop in Steytlerville’s Main Street fills the town with an alluring smell of coffee and freshly-baked cake. It’s the perfect place for some stoep-sitting, where you can watch the movements of Steytlerville with a cup in the sun.
Michelle, the owner of the coffee shop, is also passionate about animal rehabilitation and in her backyard there is a whole different kind of passion …
Pegasus Early Motoring Museum
Once you’re done with your decadent piece of cake at The Veranda Coffee Shop, the owner will lead the way to her backyard to the unique and diverse Pegasus Early Motoring Museum.
Here you can find classic cars, old-town memorabilia, petrol pumps, signage, a wagon and newspaper cut-outs of big motoring moments from South Africa.
Lizzy and her Khaya is one of Steytlerville’s most beautiful modern- day stories. Her business grew from selling sweets to Steytlerville’s kids to a successful restaurant that has been on the lips, photos and to-do lists of many local and foreign tourists.
Dining at Lizzy’s Khaya is like sitting around your grandmother’s table for a family dinner.
She waits you in and welcomes you into her home like a long-lost family member; ready to chat and ready to cook- up-a-storm. Her food is unbeatable; deliciously traditional and authentically South African.
Directions to Lizzy’s Khaya: Take the Willowmore Road out of Steytlerville, make an immediate left and at the brown ‘Lizzy’s Khaya’ sign a right and just continue with the road. It’s a short ride out of town and Lizzy is no stranger to the locals; ask around if you do get lost!
Explore the streets of Steytlerville and prepare to be dazzled with Karoo fairy dust blowing from the old architecture, through the kitchens home to Karoo treats, all the way to all the stories and folk tales from yesteryear.
See more from Anje at goingsomewhereslowly.com