Northern Cape DestinationsCarnarvon, Upper Karoo
One of numerous little towns in the heart of the vast inland basin known as the Karoo, Carnarvon lies surrounded by the rather famous flat topped koppies of the Karee Mountains, west of Williston and directly north of Loxton.
These hills have become something of a landmark of the Northern Cape and people visit Carnarvon every year just to see them.
Carnarvon was originally known as the village of Harmsfontein, within a territory known as Schietfontein. This area was the site of a Rhenish mission station and the only source water in the vicinity. One needs this history to make sense of the town today, as many of the road names are of the early Rhenish missionaries – Alheit, Sterrenberg, Biesenbach, Stremme and Hartwig.
The beautiful NG church has been standing here since 1875, the original having been built using stone. And one of the main reasons for visiting Carnarvon is the little Karoo style buildings and corbelled houses.
Corbelled houses represent the first true north-west Karoo architectural style of building. These domed roofed buildings are made completely out of flat stones in a beehive-shape, built this way by the Trekboers because there was no wood for trusses. The only other evidence of such structures is in the Mediterranean parts of Europe.
Carnarvon also lays claim to the one fort in the region, atop its koppie, whilst the museum, now in an old church hall and worth a visit, lies right next to a corbelled house rebuilt as a monument.
Don't miss the Tortoise Reserve whilst in Carnarvon. Some sixty mountain tortoises live here, respond to their names, and will take treats from your hand. And the Carnarvon Hotel's Blikkiesbar is said to have a huge collection of whiskies and beer cans on display.