The Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa is the highest quality spot to stay in the town, and the natural hot springs are on its property. Pamper yourself by going for a massage, before enjoying the hot spring baths. The hotel offers Halaal meat (uses the same supplier as that for the Arabella near Hermanus). Enjoy the buffet supper. Upper floor rooms overlooking the valley have the best views, while lower floor rooms open up to the lawns. Rooms facing the pool are closer to the spa baths (and rooms facing the valley are quieter). Rooms close to reception can be noisier.
Most people visit Caledon for their natural warm spring baths.
Whilst the main attraction in Caledon is the warm water springs, there's also the wildflowers, horse riding and the Raka Winery is a half hour drive away.
The Natural Hot Spring Baths are on the grounds of the Caledon Hotel. There's the classic Victorian Bath in the form of a large rectangular pool; as well as a series of smaller pools starting from the hottest up top and culminating in a waterfall down into a pool with a circular current around an island (the kids tend to like this one the most). My favourite pool though is the old pool, which is next to where the zip line starts. The pools used to be open 24 hours a day, but nowadays close at 11pm (the rumour being that guests used to find condoms in pools in the early morning, resulting in them closing earlier) - although there is no way of closing the old pool (it's in an open area completely seperate from the other pools).
Iron predominates in the waters of the Caledon springs (i.e. it's a chalybeate spring), with the water being odourless and clear.
1890s: Samples of Caledon water win first prize for mineral & curative properties at the Chicago World Fair.
1710: The Council of Policy grants land so that a house can be built for visitors at the spring baths.
The casino at the Caledon Hotel offers a variety of slot machines as well as tables.
This is the Anglican Church which was designed by Bishop Gray's wife, Sophy Gray. Building started in 1850 and the church was consecrated in 1855 by Bishop Gray, and on the 23rd March 1979 it was declared a heritage site.
1848: Bishop Gray travels to Caledon, seeing a man riding an ox for the first time in his life. "However, the bishop found many English people in the neighbourhood and selected a site for a church. In the district. Bishop Gray visited an English farmer who had several English families with him. They had no church or clergyman of their own within one hundred miles. The bishop visited an English girl of 12 who was lying in bed, apparently dying. "She did not pray and said she could not; she knew not what prayer was, nor could she read," Bishop Gray declared. "Poor child! We all knelt down and prayed for her."" extract from Laurie Green's Beyond the City Light.
The Caledon Wildflower Garden is managed by the Caledon Wildflower Society, together with the municipality. The garden is open daily for flower viewing. Also go on a tour of the factory at Honingklip Dry Flowers and buy flowers at the Protea Nursery.
1933. Cecil Young starts the Caledon Wild Flower Garden, which was subsequently completed by Mr De Wet Meiring.
September 1892: Caledon's first wildflower shower, and the 2nd in the Cape (the first in the Cape was in Tulbagh in 1891). "Pioneers of the Caledon show were Messrs. Alf Devine, Gawie le Roux and Miss Hope McLeroth. They gambled on drawing a crowd, hired the shed where sewejaartjie flowers (everlasting flowers, which were used to fill mattresses for babies) were dried for trade purposes, and offered £100 in prizes. Little did the competitors realise that the three promoters had only about a hundred shillings between them. However, the Worcester brass band was engaged. The shed was filled with exhibits, including more than three hundred varieties of wildflowers collected by one competitor, Miss Fick. People took the train from Cape Town to Sir Lowry's Pass and completed the journey by Cape cart. When it was all over the three pioneers found they had made a net profit of sixty-six pounds. How different it might have been!" From Beyond the City Lights by Laurie Green.
SA Forest Adventures offers tree top zip lines, off road go karts, target shooting/archery and paintball.
The Raka Winery is a half hour drive from Caledon, where you can enjoy some wine tasting.
Hop onto a flight to Cape Town and hire a car at the airport, from which it's just over an hour's drive to Caledon. When driving along the N2 to Caledon, spare a thought for when wagon was the mode of travel, and a wagon trip from Cape Town to Caledon would take 13 days. From Europcar at Cape Town International Airport, it's about 97km to the Caledon Hotel. Along the way you'll pass Somerset West, Grabouw and Bot River.
"I travelled on the Caledon train in the early nineteen-twenties, when newspapers did not send junior reporters to agricultural shows by car. It was a leisurely train; the timetable seemed to be forgotten once Cape Town was left behind. I remember the friendly conductor, known to all regular travellers as "Van". He sat down in my compartment and told me stories of his branch line. Apparently he had been on the run ever since Sir Walter Hely Hutchinson had waved the first train out of Cape Town station. Farmers along the line presented "Van" with bags of fruit and "Van" passed on some of this largesse to his regular passengers. One day "Van" found himself in the grip of raging toothache. However, there was a dentist on board, returning to Cape Town after a fortnightly visit to his practice at Elgin. The dentist identified two seriously decayed molars, but he was reluctant to extract the teeth in the swaying carriage. "I'll arrange things with the engine driver," exclaimed "Van". He did so and Loxton the driver slowed down at Steenbras and enabled the dentist to give the mandibular injection with a long needle. Such was the driver's skill that there was no sudden jerk to upset the operation. Twenty minutes later "Van" opened his mouth wide and the first tooth came out. By the time the train reached the bottom of Sir Lowry's Pass the second molar had been removed safely. The dentist leant out of the window with the tooth still in the forceps and waved to the engine-driver; a pre-arranged signal. Loxton waved back and opened the throttle. The train was fifteen minutes late at Cape Town that day but no one seemed to mind. Dentist and patient went to the station wine bar (known as "Merriman's Arms") and ordered hock. The teeth were passed round the bar and aroused great interest." from Lawrence Green's When the Journey's Over.
July 1962: At 08h46 the last train leaves Cape Town for Caledon before the branch line is closed. "There were a number of old travellers on board. They spoke of the lunches they had taken when the train stopped at Houw Hoek; the years when there were many Cape carts but few motor-cars on the road that ran parallel with the railway. Perhaps there were some that day who had gone to Caledon baths to cure their gout. The Mayor of Caledon and many others went to the station to meet the last train. "Van" was not forgotten that day." Laurie Green in When the Journey's Over.
1939. Peter Dreyer, the writer, is born in Caledon.
1902: The railway line reaches Caledon.
"Within living memory Caledon belonged to the agterwereld. It was a poor relation of the other Western Province districts, an area without a railway, still in the Cape cart and wagon age. "Kale Donners," as some were pleased to call the Caledon folk, were regarded as much less sophisticated than the well-educated and more prosperous Boland people. But the rough young men of Caledon had a suitable nickname ready for their critics from the wine districts. "Rosyntjietone", they would shout, a cunning reference to the old-fashioned method of pressing the grapes with bare feet." Lawrence Green from his book, Beyond the City Lights.
1890: A royal tour reporter with Prince Alfred notes that Caledon has 5 schools, 2 ministers, 3 churches, 3 doctors, 1 bank, 3 law agents, 2 moneylenders, a boarding house and 6 hotels.
1885: A white man is imprisoned for being in debt (the first time this happens).
1873: The great fire of Caledon, in which 13 houses are lost in a single night.
1866: A report in the Cape Standard from their Caledon correspondent: "The brass band is dead & the instruments sent out from England might just as well be sold. The library is in a lingering state. On the other hand the Archery Club has weekly meetings."
1850s?: The first hotel in Caledon is opened.
1850s?: An agricultural society is formed in Caledon, to raise money for destroying unwanted wild animals (3 pounds was paid for a fully-grown hyena, 2 pounds for a leopard and 6 shillings for a jackal).
1810? The Caledon village is proclaimed, doing away with the old name of Zwartberg. The town is named after the first British governor of the Cape (1806-11) and 2nd Early of Caledon, Irish peer Du Pre Alexander (1777–1839),
1816: Rev. Latrobe, head of the Moravian mission writes about his visit to Caledon, as recorded in the book America & The British Colonies: "On another occasion we visited the town or village of Caledon, about twenty-five miles south from Gnadenthal ; it is but as a sapling rising out of the ground ; the houses are neat, and the church in form of a cross, without a steeple. The circumjacent country is naked, and a barren waste, except a few green spots of cultivation in the vale. There are warm baths about a mile beyond the town ; the temperature of the water is 118° Fahrenheit at the spring, and 112" in the bath. Between two hot springs a cold spring rises."
1772: "We arrived at the hot bath of Zwarteberg or what is called the Bad agter de Berg. The spring arises from a hillock at the foot of the mountain, to the westward of it; and chiefly from 2 sources. The water is moderately hot, and deposits a great quantity of a light yellow ochre (hydrated iron oxide) at the bottom of the channels in which it runs. The hillock consists of an iron ore or a ferruginous lava; and is heavy, black, shining, of a very close texture, and strikes fire with steel. The very road is black, owing to the dust of the broken ore, which lies upon it like soot. The water has a chalybeate or inky taste, but is by no means sulpherous. It became black on mixing Peruvian bark or blue vitrio with it, and white with sugar of lead. The patients here use the water both for bathing in, and at the same time for drinking, though without any regulations or proper diet. The water is carried by a channel from its source into a boarded hut, where there are a few steps, on which the patient may sit as deep in the water as he chooses. The Company has caused a brick house to be built here, the care of which they have left to an old man. The few rooms that are here for the accommodation of the patients, are parted off by means of sail-cloth into many small cabins, some of the patients live in their own tents or waggons, and others lodge at the farm that is situated at the bottom of the hill. The bath is used the whole year throughout, but most in summer, or from August to February. The mountain above it is called Zwarteberg." CP Thurnberg, from the book, Travels at the Cape of Good Hope.
Willem Adriaan van der Stel's cattle grazed up to the slopes of the Zwartberg.