When travellers of the world decide to explore South Africa a discerning few find themselves in the Karoo, where nature dazzles on the endless plains and among the mountains. Here, in blazing summers and icy winters, the silence is so pure you can hear God think, the stars so near you feel you have only to reach out to touch them.
The Karoo is one of the world’s most unique, arid zones. In South Africa it stands alone, globally it is an envied rarity.
Situated in the western parts of the Eastern Cape, Steytlerville is the home of peace and tranquillity. Here one can rest, relax, refresh yourself and recharge the inner batteries of your soul, while exploring, enjoying yourself and indulging your need for some unusual entertainment.
Nature has endowed Steytlerville with exceptional beauty and it is known for its astonishing variety of semi-desert vegetation which includes dwarf shrubs, tiny succulents, umbrella-shaped wild plum trees and ancient cycads.
Visitors to the small Karoo town will immediately be struck by the town’s exceptionally wide Main Street which was designed when the town was established in 1876 to allow ox wagons to turn around at both ends. Nowadays the wide streets are divided by flower boxes planted with bougainvilleas and the street lamp poles are adorned with the coats of arms of families associated with town and area. The town’s houses provide beautiful examples of Edwardian and Victorian architecture.
Steytlerville lies in the heartland of the mohair production area. The Angora goats, which produce the mohair, thrive in the natural Karoo scrub and dry climate which is perfect for mohair production. Port Elizabeth, which lies south-east of Steytlerville, is known as the Mohair Capital of the World because most of the mohair that is produced internationally passes through its brokerage and processing systems.
The surrounding area that adjoins Port Elizabeth has developed an agri-tourism product known as the Mohair Meander. Tourists are encouraged to visit working mohair farms and see how products associated with mohair are made, and to share in the Karoo lifestyle of the area that produces this rare natural fibre. Several outlets along this route sell mohair products.
Steytlerville lies at the entrance to the eastern parts of the Baviaanskloof and showcases a host of architectural gems like quaint Edwardian- and Victorian-era houses with tin roofs and large street-facing verandas complete with broekie lace and stained glass windows.
One of the best towns the Karoo has to offer, Steytlerville with its bougainvillea-lined streets and horse-drawn carts is a diamond waiting to be discovered. It comes as no surprise then that the town is home to several South African personalities, as a holiday in this town easily leads to relocation.
Dr A.G. Visser lived in Steytlerville during 1909 – 1916. Besides being a medical doctor and poet, Visser was also very musical and conducted the church choir during Sunday morning services. During this time he would quickly slip out to see his patients when the service commenced, and slip back in again just in time to lead the choir in their closing hymn.
His one time home in the main street is now declared a National Monument.
Dr Danie Craven or "Dok" has an interesting connection with Steytlerville. It was here where he wooed Beyera Hayward and eventually married her in the Steytlerville Town Hall. Whilst being the Springbok Captain he played a game for Steytlerville against Willowmore. He mentioned it as one of his hardest games ever, seeing that everybody kept telling the players to "give the ball to Craven" and of course, he was drilled into the hard ground playing field by all 15 opponents.
Nobody has made a contribution to rugby of such variety and intensity as Danie Craven did - and nobody will, not with the changed workings of professional rugby.
Craven played for and captained the Springboks when they were at their best and the masters of the rugby world in the thirties. Dok passed away in 1993.