KarooNorthern Cape of South Africa
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Tourism information offices
- Blue Crane Route Tourism Office, +27 42 243 1448, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Graaff-Reinet Tourism Office, +27 49 892-4248, email@example.com.
- Nieu Bethesda Tourism Bureau, +27 79 070-8988.
By planeThere are two airports located in close proximity to the Karoo. The closest is the Port Elizabeth airport which is 162 km from the Karoo. The East London airport is 256 km away. There are regular flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and other South African destinations to the airports in Port Elizabeth and East London.
By carThe Karoo is easily accessible by motorways from Cape Town (717 km), Durban (815 km), and Bloemfontein (453 km). You could also drive in from Johannesburg (1014 km) or Port Elizabeth (250 km). The road conditions are fairly good if you are coming from any of these cities.
By busAll major South African coach companies offer regular schedules to and from destinations like Addo.
phone: +27 49 846-0067Situated in the delightful plains of Camdeboo, Aberdeen was founded in 1856 and is a declared architectural conservation town and a veritable repository of styles including Victorian, Georgian, Karoo, German, Gothic Revival, Russian, Art Nouveau and Flemish Revival.
phone: +27 42 243-6448Many believe Cookhouse was named after a small stone kitchen erected by garrison troops during the frontier wars. Today, Cookhouse is best known as a railway junction.
phone: +27 49 892-4248Graaff-Reinet is the oldest town in this area, known as the ‘Athens’ of the Eastern Cape, and is recognized as the home of magnificent examples of Karoo architecture and over 220 heritage sites, more than any other town in South Africa. Another unique characteristic of the town to look out for is one of the largest grape vines in the world, which was planted in 1870. The town lies on the banks of the Sundays River and is surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park.
JansenvilleThe little town of Jansenville owes its origins to the Dutch Reformed Church that formed a parish there in 1854, named after the last Dutch Governor of the Cape. Jansenville is game country with many game farms and hunting concessions in the area. The restored Sid Fourie House serves as the local museum and has a surprising variety of interesting collections relating to both the lifestyles of the past and the locality in particular. It offers travellers a welcome break in their journey through the Karoo Heartland.
phone: +27 79 070-8988The village of Nieu-Bethesda lies at the foot of the Sneeuberge, approximately 55 km from Graaff-Reinet. The town came about after having been established as a mission station in 1875. It is known for its sacred Bushman rock art sites, fossils and the Owl House, which is a museum dedicated to the eccentric artist Helen Martins.
phone: +27 42 243-6448The peaceful hamlet of Pearston, immortalised by Eve Palmer in the Plains of Camdeboo, personifies the Karoo. It is reached from Graaff-Reinet by driving across the Camdeboo, where the scenery is characterized by multilayered Karoo mountains and koppies in the distance across endless expanses of Karoo plains.
phone: +27 42 243-6448Established in 1825 by Lord Charles Somerset and found at the base of the Boschberg Mountain, Somerset East is home to many beautiful heritage sites and buildings of historical importance. It is also known to produce some of the finest roses in the country, while the Walter Battiss Art Gallery, in the hometown of this grand old man of South African art, has the largest collection of his work in Africa on display.
phone: +27 42 243-6448Gallows exhibition that is staged around the actual beam from which the five rebels were hung in 1816. Be sure to look out for the timeline of events that happened in the rest of the world during the same period.
phone: +27 42 243-6448The Walter Battiss Art Gallery boasts one of South Africa’s most celebrated artists, who left some of his major works to the people of Somerset East. The gallery is in a historical building - dating back to before 1825.
The Karoo is an outstanding choice for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, swimming in natural pools, horseback riding, 4x4, quad-biking and fossils trails or walks For the nature lovers there are 235 bird species to identify and a wealth of plant life to discover. Other adventures include fly-fishing, golf, malaria free safari and hunting operations. Annual events include the Castle Lager Biltong Festival, the Spring Rose & Flower show, and the Bruintjieshoogte Cycle Tour & Bruintjieshoogte - ADD Marathon race between Pearston & Somerset East.
The Camdeboo National Park has 24 km of gravel road that offer tourists a chance to sight Buffalo, Red Hartebeest, Eland, Gemsbok, Springbok, Blesbok, Ostrich and Black Wildebeest. The park supports a diverse spectrum of wildlife including 43 mammal species, of which 13 are carnivores. Also located in the Karoo area is the Kamala Game Reserve, a Big 5 reserve that is situated at the confluence of the high Bruinjieshoogte and Boschberg mountain ranges.
Camdeboo National Parkphone: +27 49 892-3453
Kamala Game Reservephone: +27 83 235-9927
Samara Samara Private Game Reservephone: +27 49 891-0880
Noorspoort Guest Farmphone: +27 49 935-0001
4X4 TrailsThe Karoo offers 4x4 trails for every type of off-road vehicle, quads and mountain bikes, from a casual drive in the mountains, to more challenging adventures to undertake.
Hiking & Walking Trailsaddress: Somerset EastThe diverse nature of the vegetation and typography of the area creates a landscape that is well suited to the interest of hikers. There are one and two day hikes available on the mountain.
Crag Lizard TrailThis 1½ km walk starts at the parking area of the Valley of Desolation and is clearly marked with the Crag Lizard logo.
Eerstefontein Day WalkHikers have a choice of three route options ranging from 5 to 16 km. A number of good picnic sites can be found at Eerstefontein and Agterstefontein. The trail starts and ends at Spandaukop Gate (Berg-en-dal).
Driekoppe Overnight Hiking Trailphone: +27 49 892-3453This overnight hiking trail through the mountains of the eastern section of the Camdeboo National Park can either be attempted by foot or by 4x4 vehicles.
Compassbergphone: +27 49 842-2420Compassberg (2502 m) is the 2nd highest in the Eastern Cape and highest peak in the Sneeuberg range. To climb to the top and descend, it takes approximately five hours, while the base of the mountain is a forty minute drive from Nieu Bethesda. There are different degrees of difficulty, depending on the route you choose to follow.
Ganora Guest Farm
Camdeboo National Park
HuntingIn the Karoo, game is plentiful, making it the perfect destination for hunting enthusiasts or for a camera safari. Prime hunting is offered on the rugged Karoo terrain with Blesbuck, Duiker, Gemsbok, Kudu, Mountain Reedbuck, Springbuck, Steenbok and Wildebeest.
GolfThe highly-rated 9-hole (18-tee) golf course in Somerset East is said to be one of the most beautiful in the country. There’s also the Graaff-Reinet Golf Club, with magnificent views of Spandau`s Kop.
Water SportsAlthough the level of the Nqweba dam fluctuates widely as a result of unreliable rainfall, the dam is periodically used for a variety of water sports such as power boating, skiing, yachting, canoeing and windsurfing.
Nieu Bethesda does not having filling stations, and shops and restaurants accept cash only.
Local telephone directory: 1023
International telephone directory: 10903
Ambulance: Tel: 10177 or +27 49 891-0356
Police: Tel: 10111
Fire Station: Tel: +27 49 892-2121 or +27 82 853-7036