Karoo is a semi-desert region of South Africa.
mostly sandy, expanse of undulating plains known as the Karoo is divided
between the Little Karoo, nearer the coast and the Great Karoo, which seems
to stretch into the interior forever. The Karoo, which means 'great thirst'
in the local Khoi-San language, receives little rain so the rather dramatic
landscape exhibits interesting geological features. The broad expanse of
the endless plains is broken by flat-topped mesas and kopjes (conical hills),
which display interesting stratigraphy, contorted fold structures and deeply
striated glacial pavements. The Karoo is particularly rich in dinosaur
fossils, many of which can be seen at the Old Library Museum in Graaff-Reinet.
people consider the Karoo something to be endured in order to get from
Johannesburg to Cape Town, or vice versa but it really is an attraction
in its own right. The two national parks, the Karoo National Park near
Beaufort West and the Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock are nothing
like the bushveld reserves around the Kruger National Park. The vegetation
is much more sparse but, strangely, far more interesting, as it's characterised
by low-growing succulents and aromatic shrubs which, upon closer inspection
are very beautiful and many of which flower spectacularly for a short season.
are black rhinos in the Karoo National Park and, not surprisingly, many
of the beautiful, endangered and rather rare Cape Mountain Zebra in the
Mountain Zebra National Park.
midday can be over-bright and washed out, the quality of light in the Karoo
is magnificent. Sunrises and sunsets are awe-inspiring with pastel shades
of purple, blue, pink and gold filling the entire horizon. The sky before
a storm is particularly dramatic, with shafts of light burning down through
indigo clouds and rainbows dancing merrily just behind the thunder and
the clear skies and freedom from light pollution makes for wonderful stargazing
- the recently built Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is in the
small, rather remote Karoo town of Sutherland.
well as showcasing some very pretty Victorian houses, the many small towns
reflect a sort of sleepiness, which is appropriate to their status as urban
centres in a large sheep farming area.
the edges of these vast plains lie lovely, almost unexplored mountains,
with deep gullies, pretty streams and overhangs filled with rock art. And
even the older buildings - one-roomed stone cottages, corbelled huts and
old stone sheds are coming into their own as they are renovated as tourist
or hikers accommodation.
and Cradock offer a wealth of cultural attractions as well as some great
accommodation Nieu Bethesda is the site of South Africa's best known outsider
art - the Owl House, created by Helen Martins. Nothing happens very fast
in the Karoo. It's a place to go to relax, to sit back and watch time move
gently over the purple hills.
Great Karoo stretches over part of the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and
the Northern Cape.
a trip to the Northern Cape or the Eastern / Western Cape Karoo? A useful
and inspirational book to have on the road is the Getaway Guide to
the Karoo, Namaqualand & Kalahari - Out and About in the Northern Cape
by Brent Naudé-Moseley & Steve Moseley, who are also the proprietors
of Karoo Cottage in Loxton.
Namaqualand and Kalahari represents not only some of the most remote areas
in southern Africa, but also the most scenic and rustic on the subcontinent
– a region framed by a stark beauty that provides an ideal getaway from
well-trodden tourist paths. This fascinating guide provides a unique exploration
of its hidden treasures, national parks and wildlife reserves. Find out
where to go and what to see, sound advice on finding your way through the
Karoo, Namaqualand and Kalahari as well as alphabetical accounts of all
the towns, villages and stopovers, maps and the what, where and how of
Steve Moseley & Brent Naudé-Moseley live in the Karoo where
they’ve spent the past ten years writing and photographing this and neighbouring
regions. During this time they have developed a great love and respect
for its natural and historical heritage, people and culture - all of which
have opened their eyes to a simpler lifestyle and different values. Their
travel articles and images appear in local and international publications
and, after years of travel and research, they have launched a unique photo
library (www.karooimages.co.za) specialising in the Great Karoo, Kalahari
Karoo (Klein Karoo)
Karoo is the hot, dry region squeezed between the Outeniqua Mountains that
separate it from the green and luscious Garden Route, and the rugged Swartberg
Mountains that separate it from the wider, hotter Great Karoo.
well marketed Route 62 extends further than the actual R62, including parts
of the Breede River Valley. It's a lovely, quiet alternative to the rather
more goal-oriented N2, passing through some interesting little towns and
winds its way past loads of wineries and guest farms that specialise in
rugged activities like 4x4 trails and quad bike trails. The major part
of Route 62 runs straight through the Little Karoo towns of Ashton, Montagu,
Barrydale, Ladysmith, Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn and De Rust.
a lot of fun to zig-zag backwards and forwards between the N2 and the R62
over some very scenic mountain passes, alternating between the lush green
Garden Route and the drier, more austere Little Karoo. Most well known
for its ostrich farms, which have developed into mega tourist traps, the
Little Karoo supports a thriving agricultural industry. Olives, deciduous
fruit and wine add to the rather heady mix that most local restaurants
which is most well known for its great port, holds a port festival every
July, and there are fabulous wine farms along the whole length of the R62.
Probably the most well known attraction in the region, though, is the enormous
Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn. There are some great rock paintings in various
parts of the Little Karoo.
magnificent landscapes, locally known as red hills, offer some fun day
walks, and the high mountains on either side of this long, thin valley,
offer fantastic multi-day hikes. There are loads of really great cultural
attractions, not least of which is the annual KKNK, the Klein Karoo Nasionale
Kunstefees (Little Karoo National Arts Festival) in Oudtshoorn. It's a
party. Big time.
& GREAT KAROO - BED & BREAKFASTS/GUEST HOUSES - BEAUFORT WEST
West is a town in the Western Cape province in South Africa. It is
the oldest and largest town in the arid Great Karoo region, and forms part
of the Beaufort West Local Municipality, with 37 000 inhabitants in 2001.
The town was founded in 1818 and initially named Beaufort after Henry Somerset,
5th Duke of Beaufort, who was the father of Lord Charles Henry Somerset,
then governor of the Cape Colony. The town was renamed Beaufort West in
1869. Today Beaufort West is the centre of an agricultural district
based mainly on sheep farming, and is a significant town on the N1 national
road. Next door to Beaufort West is the Karoo National Park. Important
fossils have been found in the area, initially by David Baird, son of the
local magistrate in 1827. As part of a drive to create employment
opportunities, a hydroponics project was started and now supplies premium
herbs and vegetables nationally. The old Town Hall and the Dutch
Reformed Church have been declared national monuments. Christiaan
Barnard, the pioneering heart surgeon, was born and grew up in Beaufort
West. He is commemorated in the local museum.
Manor, BEAUFORT WEST Some of the beautiful scenery
one can expect to see when visiting Beaufort Manor in Beaufort West. Beaufort
Manor offers tasteful Karoo dinners, by candle light, either in our dining
room or under the brilliant stars during summer months. Choose a bottle
of wine to accompany your five course meal, served by our friendly staff.
Guests can expect dishes such as our famous Leg of Lamb, home made chicken
pie, bobotie, mouth-watering gammon and organic vegetables straight from
our Garden. Please book to avoid disappointment.
Guest House, BEAUFORT WEST Set in the vast expanse
of the South African Great Karoo, this beautiful homestead/lodge dates
back to 1850. Built slowly and soundly to the exacting standards and architectural
style of the time, the building remains unchanged with characteristic high
ceilings, original wooden floors and wide verandahs which offer guests
a sweeping panoramic view of the Karoo landscape. The self same atmosphere
can still be felt throughout the old building even though modern comforts
like ceiling fans, wall heaters, air-conditioners and en-suite bathrooms
have been added to ensure our guests a comfortable stay.
Top Guest House, BEAUFORT WEST Tree Top Guest House is
one of the oldest residential buildings in Beaufort West. Restored to a
magnificent 3-star guest house, this could be your accommodation establishment
of choice on a journey through the Karoo. Easy accessible and situated
in quiet surroundings, this will make it an unforgettable experience for
the discerning tourist or businessman. Come and unwind in the shade of
huge pear trees, enjoying sundowners overlooking Birdstreet, unmistakably
the most beautiful street in the Karoo. We offer eight stylishly decorated
en-suite rooms with air-conditioning, dstv, secure parking, swimming pool,
barbeque area, licensed bar, and breakfasts.
is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, about 180 km from
Cape Town in western Kannaland. It is named after former secretary of the
Cape Colony, John Montagu, but was once known as Agter Cogman’s Kloof.
It is situated at the confluence of the Keisie and Kingna rivers.
Montagu is a tourist destination,
known for its hot mineral springs and scenic beauty. It is also an agricultural
centre, where orchards and vineyards are in production and local herbs
are grown. Nearby rock formations make it one of the country's major rock
climbing venues. Montagu is near the Robertson Wine Valley, and is most
easily reached via the Route 62 scenic route.
on Church, Guest House, MONTAGU Nestled
on the foothills of the Langeberg Mountain range in the heart of Montagu,
20 on Church is a picturesque two hour’s drive from Cape Town on the popular
Route 62. This ideal stopover destination between Cape Town and the Garden
Route, offers intrepid travelers a stylish haven to relax and rejuvenate
not often associated with Bed & Breakfast establishments. Surrounded
by majestic mountains in the heart of the Robertson Wine Valley which is
incidentally South Africa’s longest wine route. 20 on Church offers
you the choice of four lavish en-suite bedrooms, one of which opens up
into a private garden where you can enjoy the luxuries of an outside shower.
Game Lodge, Self-Catering/Full-Board Thatch Chalets, MONTAGU Situated
in the spectacular mountains of the Cape Winelands, only 2.5hrs from Cape
Town and 30 minutes from the quaint karoo town of Montagu, African Game
Lodge is a private nature reserve which offers you a taste of nature
where you can relax and enjoy the scenery and wild animals without any
pressure. If you love the environment as much as we do, you will be pleased
to know that we are completely off the grid, using the power of the sun
for our energy. African Game Lodge is down to earth South African hospitality
at its best in the most beautiful natural setting. We offer daily nature
drives and game viewing to see large game on our property, as well as a
cheetah conservation and awareness program.
Vines Guesthouse, MONTAGU Montagu
Vines is situated in the historic conservation area of Montagu. The main
farmhouse was built between 1900 and 1910 and reflects the early Victorian-influenced
Karoo-styled farmhouses of that period. The garden rooms overlook
the wine-producing vineyard and compliment the stately main house. We offer
our guests a taste of old-fashioned comfort and luxury in the town of Montagu
on the world famous “Route 62”. You can relax in the splash pool
set in the tranquil gardens with magnificent old oak and milkwood trees.
Alternatively, you could lounge on the lawns with glorious views of the
vineyards and surrounding mountains, sipping a glass of Chenin Blanc produced
from grapes from our vines.
Victoria, MONTAGU Absorb
the ambience of a lovingly restored Victorian villa. Sleep in a luxurious
en-suite bedroom between percale linen sheets on an extra length bed. Enjoy
an elegant breakfast served with freshly baked homemade breads on the verandah
overlooking the garden and mountains. Relax alongside the sparkling pool
while taking in the splendor of a Karoo sunset on the Langeberg. Our aim
is to make your stay memorable.
Oudtshoorn, the largest
town in the Little Karoo, is most well known as the centre of the ostrich
farming industry. Taller than many men, these huge flightless birds weigh
in at about 150kg and are very fast and – surprisingly – very dangerous.
Don’t tangle with one. How embarrassing would it be to have to explain
to the guys in the office that, while you were on holiday, a bird kicked
you almost to death and you landed up in hospital with broken bones, concussion
and a few major lacerations? You’d never live it down. But they are interesting
– and delicious. Their almost totally fat-free and cholesterol-free red
meat is reputed to be particularly healthy, and is made into a huge range
of innovative dishes in local restaurants. The most traditional way to
eat an ostrich, though, is in the form of biltong – sun-dried, spiced strips
of meat. But, hey. Why eat the bird, when you can wear it?
feathers have moved in and out of fashion a few times over the last couple
of centuries but, at their heyday, they were worth more than their weight
in gold and they funded the building of some magnificent mansions, which
were dubbed “feather palaces” by the envious neighbours. Le Roux’s Townhouse,
which is an annex of the CP Nel Museum, is an excellent example of this
early form of conspicuous consumption.
There are also a number of
farms where you could watch an ostrich display, learn all about these amazing
birds and go wild buying ostrich feather and leather products. The leather
has almost overtaken the feathers as a must-have fashion accessory. Distinctively
knobbed (how many leathers are plucked?) and very hard-wearing, it’s used
to make anything from key rings to full length coats, car upholstery and
even saddles. (OK – so far, one rather weird Cape Town polo player has
decided that a knobbly ostrich leather saddle is a good idea. But, who
knows, it could take off.)
You could, if you were totally
heartless, also ride an ostrich. Sure – they weigh 150 kg and are very
strong but – and this is a big but – they have really tiny little ankles
so many of the birds that are ridden are permanently injured. Which is
not really a problem, as they’re destined to be turned into biltong and
handbags, anyhow, but it’s worth thinking about.
Speaking of handbags, there’s
a crocodile ranch just outside the town, and also a “wildlife ranch”, where
you can dive with crocodiles from the safety of a cage, see a range of
predators, including lions, tigers and jaguars, and you could even – for
a price – “adopt” a baby cheetah. While we’re on the animal thing – there’s
a bunny farm, where you can pet the angora rabbits and buy lovely soft
garments from angora wool, and even a lovely, child-friendly restaurant
where you can ride a camel. Camels, fortunately, are renowned for their
other major attraction in Oudtshoorn is the Cango Caves, which extend for
miles into the extensive limestone hills and exhibit beautiful crystal
and flow structures. You can do a one hour tour or tackle the more adventurous
one and a half hour tour, which includes some tight squeezes.
One of the best ways to see
Oudtshoorn and its surrounds – if you’re relatively energetic – is to do
a semi-escorted cycling trip on the Swartberg Pass. You (along with the
bikes) get driven to the top of the pass 50km from town, from where you
make your own way back. The first 10km is a steep, twisting, turning, incredibly
scenic unpaved mountain pass – but all downhill. From there the next 10km
is a relatively steep downhill on tar, and the last 30km is mostly downhill
En route back to town, you
can stop to visit the Cango Caves, the Wildlife Ranch, an ostrich farm,
and even stop to ride a camel. A short detour (with some uphills) could
take you to a lovely waterfall. It’s a full day ride but – here’s the best
part – if you decide you’ve had enough cycling, you can phone to be picked
up and only pay a small “rescue fee”.
There are some great restaurants
and a smattering of lovely guest houses. The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees
(Little Karoo National Arts Festival), which is a whole load of fun, is
held in April.
House, Bed & Breakfast, OUDTSHOORN Built
in 1905 by Sidney Herbert Adley during the ‘Ostrich Feather Boom period’
1880 to 1914. This magnificent Sandstone Victorian Homestead is situated
on an acre of land in a quiet up market residential area near to the centre
of town. Rated 4 stars by the S.A. Tourism grading council, it has
14 Air Conditioned, individually decorated rooms with T.V, tea and coffee
facilities, Hairdryers, bar fridge and all the necessary amenities to make
your stay most pleasant. Relax at our 2 pools in our well kept English
Ou Pastorie - De Hoop, OUDTSHOORN
invite you to the grand, gabled, sandstone lady - Die Ou Pastorie. You
will be overwhelmed by calm, wonderment and beauty because of her architecture,
accommodation and landscape. The Parsonage and Dutch Reformed Church of
De Hoop, Oudtshoorn were completed in 1909 by imported Scottish stone masons.
This gem of the Klein Karoo has passionately and respectfully been restored
and refurbished as a Guest House for the comfort and entertainment of guests.
It is centrally located for exploration of the Klein Karoo and the exquisite
Garden Route nearby.
Lodge B&B, OUDTSHOORN Oudtshoorn's
premier destination. This highly recommended lodge offers individually
decorated en suite rooms, all equipped with queen size beds or twin beds,
TV, mini-bar, safe, telephone, free coffee/tea and air conditioning.
A warm welcome awaits you in this Victorian Lodge with its exotic garden
settings. Relax at the large salt water swimming pool and enjoy the
superb views of the Swartberg Mountains. Try the fitness center, hire a
mountain bike or just enjoy a drink at the fully licensed bar. Opened
in 1996, Hlangana Lodge has been the home away from home for many visitors
to our beautiful town.
Rustique Guesthouse & Fine Dining Restaurant, OUDTSHOORN Villa
Rustique guesthouse offers 5 luxury rooms (1 Honeymoon suite) all en-suite,
with private entrance and air conditioning. 365 days a year, when
the weather is fine, we let you enjoy our superb champagne breakfast buffet
on the patio around the pool. Guests can relax and stay refreshed
around the swimming pool or enjoy a day trip to the local Oudtshoorn attractions.
Villa Rustique is located in a quiet residential area of Oudtshoorn, the
city of ostriches and the world famous Cango Caves.
Holzapfel, BEAUFORT WEST Your German hosts Marion
and Zwingli have created a charming home with a beautiful garden for the
discerning guest who is looking for luxurious self catering or B&B.
Accommodation in a "home away from home'’ haven in a secure and peaceful
setting, in one of the most beautiful areas in the Karoo. Honeymooners
and those seeking something special will delight in the exclusivity that
the suites offer. Haus Holzapfel offers two sunny and bright Suites which
are beautifully decorated and furnished.
Grove Guest Farm, Country House, Self-catering, DBB, BEAUFORT
WEST Olive Grove Guest Farm is
owned and hosted by Ian and Sonia Taylor. In the AA Accommodation Awards
2007, Ian and Sonia won the prize for the Host and Hostess that go the
extra mile for their guests, throughout the Western Cape, this ensures
a high standard of service and hospitality at this establishment. The unique
combination of Olive, Sheep and Game farming makes this a Karoo experience
that cannot be missed. Accommodation choice is between 7 stylish chalets
and 5 luxury suites, self-catering or country cuisine from our Karoo Kitchen.
Blokhuis, Self-Catering Houses on an Olive Farm, LAINGSBURG Blokhouse was built in 1901
and housed 30 soldiers to protect the bridge during the Anglo Boer War.
The Blockhouse is a National Monument situated on the farm. Geelbeksbrug
is also a working olive farm and guests can enjoy awesome stargazing. The
owner will take you on Geological & Paleontological walking tours where
you can see how erosion exposed ancient rock formations. 37 species of
birds have been ringed, watch birds, swim in the dam or just enjoy the
nature of the karoo.