Loxton is one of those surprising and unusual Karoo villages lucky enough to have experienced a transformation of fortune. Twenty years ago the village, in common with so many small towns across the Karoo, was in decline with many of its residents moving away to the big cities to seek their fortunes – or at least a living. Many of the old cottages and houses fell into disrepair and other than the grand Dutch Reformed Church in the centre square of the village it started to look a bit tattered and run-down. In recent years however Loxton has become a sought-after and almost trendy Karoo village, a place where artists can exercise their creativity and it is the ideal village to relax and unwind from the stresses of modern city life. Many of Loxton’s most recent residents have in fact turned their backs on the frenetic and stressful life in the city and have chosen a more peaceful and tranquil existence in the tranquillity of the wide-open spaces of the Karoo.
In common with the village of Vosburg the early residents of Loxton had the foresight to plant the streets with hundreds of trees. Today many of the streets are still lined with these cypresses, pepper trees, and beefwoods, which provide welcome shade in the hot summer months. If you visit the village in winter you may notice that the trees look somewhat sparse, but in the hot summer months the trees mantle the village in a welcome canopy of shade.
One of the great innovations of a number of Karoo towns was the installation of irrigation furrows that are used by residents to irrigate their gardens. Loxton’s “leiwater” not only provides water for the tree-lined streets it also waters most of the gardens in the village, allowing residents to cultivate orchards and vegetables. In the spring months the snowy blossoms of the pear trees brighten up the streets with the promise of a rich harvest to come. Along with the usual sheep farming Loxton is also the centre of one of the biggest garlic-producing regions in South Africa.
With the influx of new residents many of the old cottages and houses have been renovated and as you stroll through the shady streets of the village you will notice many examples of beautifully restored Karoo cottages, with one or two examples of grand old Victorian and Edwardian era residences complete with deep shady verandas, high sash windows and wooden shutters. For those with an interest in different styles of corrugated iron roofs, so typical of the traditional Karoo dwelling, bullnose, concave and ogee styles can be seen. The diamond-shaped window at the end of the veranda is also a common feature.
The unique stone Corbelled houses that are shaped similar to beehives are also found in the Loxton district. These dwellings only occur around Loxton, Fraserburg, Williston, and Carnarvon. They were built in the early 1800s by the trekboers or nomadic farmers and due to the lack of any other building materials, consist solely of local stone without any supporting roof beams.
If retail therapy is important to you then Loxton is not the place for you. Although the basics are available there is no supermarket of any description and most of the village’s residents will make a monthly trip to Carnarvon or Beaufort West to stock their deep freezes. In fact there is not even a petrol station in the village, with the only fuel available at the local farmer’s co-op. For convenience fill-up in Victoria West, Carnarvon or Beaufort West before spending any length of time in the village.
Loxton has also achieved some notoriety as the quintessential Karoo backdrop for Afrikaans movie productions and the village has played host to the production of some well-known feature-lengths. Probably the most well-known movie is Jakhalsdans. The acting talent of the local residents was also drawn into the movie with both feature and cameo roles played by local Loxtonians. The most prominent role being that of Janke Bruwer who played the role of the five-year old Mia Malan with consummate skill and panache.
The best way to explore the town is on foot and a stroll down the shady streets will most often result in a chat along the way with some of the village folk. Hospitality is the hallmark of many a small Karoo village and Loxton is sure not to disappoint. As part of your stroll be sure to take the time at sunset to walk up the hill overlooking the town for wonderful views across the plains to the horizon. The view provides a great perspective of the space and ambience that surrounds the village and you will also get an idea of why Loxton is known as an arboreal village.
Loxton is well off the beaten track and although the R63 road connecting Loxton with Victoria West and Carnarvon is tarred, it carries very little traffic. All other roads into the village from Beaufort West along the R381 and Fraserburg along the R356 are gravel and carry even less traffic. As a result Loxton is one of the most peaceful and pleasant villages in the Great Karoo and definitely one of my favourites.