Vanrhynsdorp - some 300 kilometres north of Cape Town on the N7 - is in administrative terms part of the Western Cape Province. However, geographically, this small town with its 4000 inhabitants belongs to the Namaqualand, Here, the wide open, semi-desert plains of the Nama Karoo start, with its typical vegetation of succulents and a dry, sunny climate. The town is picturesquely positioned in front of the backdrop of the Maskam Mountain. This imposing table mountain is part of the Matzikamma (Matsikama) massif, rising about a thousand metres above the plains.
Like all the places in Namaqualand, Vanrhynsdorp is also a wildflower paradise during the late winter and early spring months. A habitat for a botanical speciality is the so-called "Knersvlakte" north of the town. On these plains which are densely studded with quartz stones, the plant lover can discover a unique variety of miniature succulents only to be found here. The locals call them "baby bums".
Vanrhynsdorp is a calm and quiet place, hardly touched by tourism. The town's atmosphere is defined by a couple of Victorian buildings. Especially interesting is the old prison house, built in 1895 from limestone and clay bricks. Now arts & crafts products are on display and for sale here.
Vanrhynsdorp is a truckstop and overnight halt for long distance traffic off the N7 and the trading centre for the surrounding farms where mainly sheep are bred and Rooibos Tea is produced. And north of town there is a gypsum factory which adds to the prosperity of Vanrhynsdorp.