As tradition goes, my husband took me away for my birthday last year. The only catch, I did not know where we were going.
The Friday morning he loaded me in the car and off we went. I knew we were going to be on the road for some time so we left bright and early.
We had breakfast just on the other side of Ceres next to the road at one of those cement tables and chairs. As we were getting ready to leave again and collecting our stuff, I was standing next to Etienne, he was still sitting down finishing up his last bite, and briefly looked down, just to find a dead snake! It was cm’s from my foot. I froze and almost passed out. It was not just a snake, it was a puff adder (Pofadder). His head was smashed in and it was pretty fresh. He had to be very naughty. I think it was murder but the body was moved. There was no blood spatter around the scene.
At this point I was fairly convinced we are going to Touwsrivier, but we made a u-turn and took off on the gravel road.
I saw road signs indicating the distance to Calvinia and Sutherland. I thought to myself no, we will not go to Sutherland because this is something we want to do in Winter one day to see the snow.
As we drove I figured out, well, I think Sutherland it will be. At one point Etienne looked at me and asked if I now have any idea where we are going and I looked at him with a smile on my face and said yes, I think we are going to Sutherland to watch the stars. He asked me if this was my final answer and then he confirmed.
I was excited.
I have always wanted to go to Sutherland. Sutherland is always referred to as one of the coldest places and when the weatherman predicts the weather and indicate the temperatures for sure they are always either real cold or super hot.
They also have the cleanest sky and that is one of the reason why the telescope is there. On a cloudless night you can see to infinity, not really but you get the idea.
It really is a very small town. There is not much to do. They do have a few restaurants, a PEP, liquor store, police station, a beautiful church, Primary- and High School and the observatories.
There are more than one place in town where you can go do stargazing, this is the reason after all why most people come here, but we were referred to Uncle Jurg, he is one of the best in town.
Friday was a very chilled day. After we arrived in Sutherland, eventually, felt like we drove for ages, we went for lunch and then back to our camp site and had a quiet evening. Accept for the cars leaving and entering the town.
Our campsite was just outside of town, but it felt like we were next to Kyalami. It was very noisy. There were road works and workers driving in and out from different work sites outside of town. They all seemed to stay in Sutherland. The hotels were pretty much fully booked.
On my birthday the Saturday Etienne filled some balloons with air. He said he want our camping site to look festive. We had a lovely homemade breakfast and we spent some time in town. We had something to eat and drink at different places, we went to two of the shops that sells some handmade- and or second hand products and had a lovely conversation with one of the ladies in town.
I had to ask her how she kept herself busy because there was really nothing to do around there. She laughed and said that she is involved in some small projects and groups with the older ladies in town. She loves it.
I even had some left over cake that I baked myself.
So, on my birthday the Saturday night, we went to go star gazing with Oom Jurg. It started with a presentation and showing the constellations and which ones we will be looking at. This guy really have a passion for stars. It started as a hobby and now he does it full time.
We also had a chat with a young man who is a palaeontologist. We saw some pictures and very interesting fossils they have dug up
The way this evening was presented kept me listening and had my interest. I enjoyed the stars immensely, but I was waiting for the moon. Yes, maybe I have a bit of a thing with the moon. No particular reason it just fascinates me how much of an influence the moon have on the earth and one cannot really fully comprehend it.
Oom Jurg had this neat trick to take a photo with your cell phone and we got some pretty cool shots. I was very impressed.
We stayed a little after everyone left and had a chat about photography, particularly night photography and Oom Jurg had some good tips.
It was really wonderful. I really enjoyed it and would like to go back.
Go have a look at their website HERE, it has all the info on how to book and activities available.
Have you gone star gazing before?