Karoo, Western Cape

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Western Cape Attractions

Karoo, Western Cape

De Rust, Klein Karoo
De Rust, Klein Karoo

Once you've booked your hotel or Karoo accommodation explore our destination pages below for info on attractions and what to do in the Karoo.

The Little or Klein Karoo, which is a long valley bordered by the Swartberg and the Langeberg Mountains in the Western Cape, forms the southern sibling of the larger Karoo - the Great or Groot Karoo occupies the northern part thereof.

This is the land of succulents - their thick, fleshy diversity unparalleled anywhere else in the world - peppered only by the odd bush and tree that gives the Karoo, at first glance, the appearance of arid, dry and very flat land devoid of living matter and given over to hot days and cold nights. Herds of buffalo, elephant and kudu once dominated these plains only to be hunted or driven out by modern development.

Today the mainly visible animal in the area is the ostrich, farmed for his meat, eggs and feathers, but stay awhile and you’ll hear the rustlings of the bat-eared fox, the suricate or meerkat and the common barking gecko.

Klein Karoo, Western Cape
Klein Karoo, Western Cape
This bleak landscape is, on second glance, an area of towering cliffs, clear streams and a unique biome dominated by the aloe and dwarf baobab tree with its yellow peeling bark and midsummer red tubular flowers.

Majestic mountains lend a blue haze to the distant horizon and spring flowers draw huge numbers of tourists from all over the world for a few weeks every year when sand becomes a tapestry of flowers.

This semi-arid climate with winter rainfall gives rise to various microclimates that allow Karoo winemakers to produce a wide variety of quality wines from vines grown typically along the fertile river banks. Little villages and hamlets make intermittent appearances and towns like Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Van Wyksdorp and Uniondale give the visitor a good idea of a typical South African dorp or town.

View at Montagu mountains, Karoo
View at Montagu mountains, Karoo
The Cango Caves, just west of Oudtshoorn, were discovered by a young Hottentot looking for missing cattle and extend underground for over two kilometres.

Formed as a result of 20 million years of rainwater scouring and dissolving rock and limestone to form halls and passageways, the caves were declared a National Monument in 1938 and include the Wonder Cave that has some superb examples of drip stone formations and a resident bat population.

And last but not least, the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival at Oudtshoorn showcases South African art forms from serious drama to farce and includes music, fine arts, festive food, poetry, theatre for the little people and dancing. Some have described it as a ‘boere bazaar’ (farmers’ market) rather than an arts festival, but one is seriously spoiled for choice here when it comes to catching up on the local art scene.

Karoo

Destinations / Town & Suburbs of the Karoo

Barrydale

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Barrydale

The little town of Barrydale lies nestled at the foot of the beautiful Langeberge in the heart of the Tradouw Valley, close to where the northern exit of the Tradouw Pass winds through the mountains to meet Route 62, the longest ... barrydale information

Beaufort West

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Beaufort West

This quirky town - the oldest in the Central Karoo - is rich in history that holds intrigue for the scientist, the historian and the eco-tourist. Not only was the first reptile fossil discovered near here, in what has subsequently been ... beaufort west information

Calitzdorp

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Calitzdorp

Driving east on Route 62, from Ladismith via the striking Huisrivier mountain pass, travelers suddenly encounter the little town of Calitzdorp, once renowned as the Port Wine Capital of South Africa, but now more commonly known ... calitzdorp information

De Rust

Where to Stay: Accommodation in De Rust

The quaint little Victorian town of De Rust, on Route 62, is conveniently positioned at the southern entrance to Meiringspoort - a magnificent gorge through the Swartberg Mountain Range - and just a few kilometres from Oudtshoorn ... de rust information

Herold

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Herold

Herold doesn’t need much by way of imaginative writing to inspire a visit. The little hamlet of Herold lies right on the Montagu Pass cradled by some of the most majestic mountain scenery in the country on the R62, (Route 62) one of ... herold information

Klaarstroom

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Klaarstroom

The tiny hamlet of Klaarstroom, positioned at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains at the Great Karoo entrance to Meiringspoort, is the genuine article when it comes to Victorian working farm villages – little affected by time and change in ... klaarstroom information

Ladismith

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Ladismith

The little town of Ladismith lies in the shadow of the Towerkop Mountain peak on Route 62, 300 km from Cape Town in the Karoo. The pretty town is unique in a number of senses, not least of which is its unique ‘Ladismith’ style of ... ladismith information

Laingsburg

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Laingsburg

A small, modern Karoo village, Laingsburg lies at the confluence of two rivers in one of the driest parts of the country, 280 km from Cape Town just off the N1 highway that travels through the Great Karoo ... laingsburg information

Matjiesfontein

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Matjiesfontein

Matjiesfontein lies just off the N1 past Touwsriver en route to Laingsburg, in the Klein Karoo. The highway does not pass through the gorgeous little Victorian town that is also a national monument, you need to actually make... Matjiesfontein information

Montagu

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Montagu

Known as the ‘mountain mecca’ of the Cape, Montagu lies surrounded by the Langeberg mountain range nestled between the Keisie and Kingna Rivers in the western corner of Kannaland, and is famous for her orchards, vineyards, ... montagu information

Murraysburg

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Murraysburg

Murraysburg barely qualifies as a Western Cape town, lying as it does on the very parameters of the province's borders with the Northern Cape in the Great Karoo. It's a beautiful little town nestled up against the... murraysburg information

Oudtshoorn

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Oudtshoorn

Know as "The Feather Capital of the World" because of the flourishing ostrich industry. Oudtshoorn's attraction include three show farms: Highgate, Safari and Cango Ostrich Farm. Palatial homes known as "feather palaces" ... oudtshoorn information

Prince Albert

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Prince Albert

Prince Albert had its origins in 1762 when a loan farm named Kweeckvalleij "the valley of cultivation and plenty" was established in a green and fertile valley at the foot of the awesome Swartberg Mountains. Today, the town is one ... prince albert information

Rouxpos

Where to Stay: Karoo Accommodation

Rouxpos is one of those little Karoo towns that has managed, despite the penchant for second homes in available little dorps within a couple of hours of major cities, to remain in relative obscurity. You will not find it on ... rouxpos information

Touws River

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Touws River

The pretty little railway town of Touws River, between Barrydale and Ladismith in the little Karoo, lies some 185 kilometres east of Cape Town. Touws River is set on the fringes of the Klein Karoo, basically a valley ... touws river information

Uniondale

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Uniondale

This charming little town with its quirky individuals and leisurely way of life is about an hour’s drive from George and only 80 km from Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Uniondale lies adjacent to the Langkloof, which winds its way through ... uniondale information

Van Wyksdorp

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Van Wyksdorp

The little Karoo village of Van Wyksdorp lies on the R327 from Ladismith, just off the famous R62, in the foothills of the Rooiberg Mountains. It's the kind of town people describe as a typical Karoo 'dorp' – a rural town in essence ... van wyksdorp information

Karoo

Featured and "Must See" Attractions in the Karoo

Anysberg Nature Reserve

Anysberg Nature Reserve lies in the Little Karoo between Ladismith, Laingsburg, Touwsrivier and Montagu, and is approximately four hours drive from Cape Town. The Anysberg reserve offers the visitor some of the most striking scenery in the Karoo as well as fascinating wildlife and plants and various ... more information

Aquila Game Reserve

Aquila is a private Nature Reserve lying outside the town of Touwsriver; just less than two hours drive from Cape Town along a particularly scenic route on the N1. The reserve is named after the Black Eagle found in the area that is today rarely encountered and regarded as an endangered species. Aquila, whilst ... more information

Bosluiskloof Pass

On the road between Laingsburg and the Gamkapoort Dam lies Bosluiskloof Pass, one of a number of beautiful passes in the area. There are views from some of the higher parts of the pass out over a series of mountain ranges that are absolutely incredible. Bosluiskloof Pass can be reached from the northern end of ... more information

Cango Caves

Almost 30 kilometres outside of Outshoorn in the Klein Karoo, and certainly one of the main reasons for placing this little town on your itinerary, other than the prospect of riding an ostrich, lie the Cango Caves, some of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world set in Precambrian times ... more information

Cogmanskloof Pass

Cogmanskloof, sometimes also spelt Kogmanskloof, is the pass through which one drives between the towns of Montagu and Ashton in the Western Cape. It is the same pass of the famous tunnel, of the same name. Actually it is more like a hole through the mountain just as one passes over the river outside Montagu. It is ... more information

Floriskraal Dam

Floriskraal Dam is a dam about which few people know that lies on the Buffels River south east of Laingsburg in the Karoo that was built in 1957. It lies surrounded by gentle hills and mountains and scrubby fynbos. In the 1981 Laingsburg floods it was the collapse of the Floriskraal Dam wall after the heavy rains that wreaked most of ... more information

Gamkaberg Nature Reserve

Lying in the Little Karoo is the remote Gamka mountain range, isolated because of the conduit of the Gouritz River that slices between the Gamkaberg, and its nearest neighbour, the Rooiberg. The Gamkaberg Nature Reserve encompasses almost the whole mountain range, established in 1974 to ... more information

Gamkapoort Dam

The Gamkapoort Dam lies on the Gamka River, near Prince Albert in the Karoo. Which might position it in your mind geographically, but does nothing to describe or capture the beauty of this part of the country - a landscape that lies in the heart of the Swartberg, where you are completely away ... more information

Gamkapoort Nature Reserve

Gamkapoort Nature Reserve lies to the north of the Swartberg Nature Reserve, whilst Towerkop Nature Reserve lies to the west. Together, they form part of the Greater Swartberg Protected Area, a World Heritage Site that lies between the Great and Little Karoos. This part of the Karoo is a huge swathe of mountainous ... more information

Garcia's Pass

Garcia's Pass links the towns of Riversdale and Ladismith in the Karoo. Back in the old days the only route through the Langeberg Mountains was via the Plattekloof Pass, something of a detour for farmers who wanted to reach Riversdale and subsequently Mossel Bay for trade. Today Garcia's Pass takes travellers along a ... more information

Gouritz Biodiversity Meander

The Gouritz Biodiversity Meander lies in the heart of the Succulent Karoo. It runs along the foot of the Swartberg Mountain Range, a World Heritage Site in its own right, and follows the Swartberg-Gamka-Rooiberg biodiversity corridor – an area incredibly significant in terms of ... more information

Hex River Pass

The Hex River Pass lies on the national road, the N1, and links Worcester with Touws River. The pass is a favourite amongst travellers during winter when the surrounding peaks are capped with snow, usually a sure indicator to those living in the nearby towns and farms that the cold weather has hit, as it does ... more information

Kammanassie Nature Reserve

Lying in the Little Karoo between the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains, lies an inselberg or monadnock - an isolated hill or small mountain that rises abruptly from the surrounding plain - called Kammanassie Mountain. The entire mountain catchment area, and a large portion of state land, make up almost ... more information

Karoo National Park

The Karoo National Park is situated close to the N1 highway between Cape Town and the hinterland, approximately 1000 km south of Johannesburg and 500 km north of Cape Town. Because of the sparse vegetation game viewing in the Karoo National Park is easily facilitated. Best viewing is ... more information

Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden

In Roux Road on the outskirts of Worcester, some 120 kilometres from Cape Town, lies a unique gem of a garden - the only truly succulent garden in the southern hemisphere, and indeed Africa, that displays one of the largest collection of indigenous succulents in South Africa. 155 hectares of ... more information

Klein Karoo Wine Estates

The dry, harsh conditions of the Klein Karoo are actually ideal for the production of excellent wines. The summers are very hot and dry, while winters can hit major lows. The range of wines produced here is extremely varied as a result of this unique climate, and includes many wonderful ... more information

Ko-Ka Tsara Game Reserve

Ko-Ka Tsara Game Reserve, meaning "small bucks kloof" in Khoi, is set in the Nuweveld Mountains of the Great Karoo, 8km outside Beaufort West. 10,000 of the 70,000 hectare reserve is dedicated to the 24 species of game which include the protected Mountain Zebra and Bontebok. Red Hartebeest ... more information

Little Karoo Wine Route

A little surprising, perhaps - that grapes can grow in a semi-arid area - but grow they do in this region, renowned for its extremes in soils and climate. Despite the low rainfall for the area, viticulture happens in the riverine sites, kloofs and valleys of its spectacularly rugged mountains and produces ... more information

Marloth Nature Reserve

Lying just three kilometres from the pretty little town of Swellendam, the Marloth Nature Reserve conserves the central Langeberg Mountains that lie between the towns of Swellendam, Ashton, Barrydale and Suurbraak. The Marloth Nature reserve includes what residents of Swellendam call ... more information

Meiringspoort

Soaring cliff walls with spectacular rock formations line the 25 km tarred road which winds along the floor of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 25 times. Entry to the poort is via Klaarstroom, 55 kms east of Prince Albert en route to Oudtshoorn and the coast. Hardy plants cling to the precarious ... more information

Molteno Pass

Said to be South Africa's first mountain pass, Molteno Pass links Beaufort West to Loxton, in effect joining the oldest town in the area to the Northern Cape. It lies in the Nuweveld Mountains on R381, completed in 1881 and named after the first Prime Miinister of the Cape, Sir JC Molteno, who also represented Beaufort West ... more information

Prince Alfred Pass

The Prince Alfred Pass is another built by the indefatigable Thomas Bain, between 1860 and 1867. It was to be one of his biggest challenges, as the road cut through dense forest and climbs 700 metres in just 14 kilometres. The pass links Knysna with the little town of Avontuur on the R62. It is also fairly difficult ... more information

Robinson Pass

The Robinson Pass cuts through the Ruiterbos Valley, linking Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn. When it was originally hewn in 1869 the pass was known as the Ruiterbosch Pass (sometimes also called Ruiter bos or Brandwaghoogte, for obvious reasons), as Ruiterbos is regarded as the start... more information

Rooiberg Pass

The beautiful Rooiberg Pass lies within the Rooiberg Conservancy, a 60 000 hectare mountainous area in the Klein Karoo. This conservancy in turn forms part of the Gouritz Biodiversity Meander, which aims to conserve this incredible meeting place of three biomes, one of only 35 biodiversity hot spots in the world ... more information

Rooinek Pass

Perhaps because of the connotations of its name, the Rooinek Pass in the mountains around Laingsburg does look a little sunbleached, and wild (rooinek is the Afrikaans for 'red neck' meaning an English speaking South African, usually of British descent; it alludes to the sunburnt necks of the average ... more information

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

At the foot of the Warmwaterberg, in the heart of the Little Karoo, between Montagu and Barrydale on the famous Route 62, the vision of the San is becoming a reality. Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, 54 000 hectares of undulating mountains and plains, indigenous fauna and flora, rock formations and rock ... more information

Seweweekspoort Pass

Seweweekspoort, or Seven Weeks Poort, is a rugged mountain ravine that lies just at the start of the Klein Swartberge near Towerkop Nature Reserve. The ravine or poort is a combination of some of the most beautiful vertical rock folds in the country that combine to form a narrow little pass through which a road winds. The ... more information

Swartberg Pass

The 27km Swartberg Pass is considered one of the finest mountain passes in the world: an untarred road that winds to the summit 1583 metres above sea level in steep zigzags and sudden switchbacks with breathtaking views at every turn. The road is supported in places by hand-packed stone walls, a ... more information

Swartberg Nature Reserve

The Swartberg Nature Reserve lies in the Oudtshoorn district between the Great Karoo and Little Karoo, bordered by the Gamka River in the west and the Uniondale / Willowmore road in the east. The Swartberg Reserve encompasses 121,000 heactares of mostly state-owned land. Gamkapoort ... more information

Theronsberg Pass

The Theronsberg Pass is one of four ways in which to reach the Ceres valley. Others include Michell's Pass from Cape Town (N1, R43, R46), Gydo Pass (the R303 from Citrusdal), and Theronsberg Pass (from Touws River, R46). The Theronsberg Mountains take one into the Tanqua Karoo, a gorgeous semi-arid area ... more information

Towerkop Nature Reserve

Towerkop is named after the imposing split peak of the Towerkop that, together with the Seweweekspoort Peak, overshadows the beautiful reserve. Towerkop Nature Reserve lies west of the Swartberg Nature Reserve and together with Gamkapoort Nature Reserve are not open to the public. This is ... more information

Uniondale Poort

The little town of Uniondale on the N9 south west of Willowmore, has rather a few passes in the vicinity. The town lies in the Kammanasie River valley with mountains on all sides. Just south west of the town is the Potjiesberg pass, the Prince Alfred Pass lies on the R339 on the other side of Avontuur towards ... more information

Karoo

Featured Things To Do in the Karoo

Hiking in the Swartberg Pass

Where: Prince Albert
How much (per person): R1 to R100

Lindsay arranges a hiking permit and then drives you into the Swartberg Pass with a picnic lunch, a bird list and map and you hike back down ... more information

Ride an Ostrich at Ostrich Show Farm

Where: Oudtshoorn
How much (per person): On Request

To ride an Ostrich, visit one of the Ostrich Show Farms in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. Here you can observe large flocks of Ostriches at diffe ... more information

Karoo

Holiday Accommodation in Karoo

For accommodation in the Karoo see:
BarrydaleBeaufort WestCalitzdorpDe RustHeroldKlaarstroom
LadismithLaingsburgMatjiesfonteinMurraysburgOudtshoornPrince Albert
SanbonaTouws RiverUniondaleVan Wyksdorp

Or to see all results in this region at once, visit accommodation in Karoo.

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Also see Western Cape Events to see whats happening or check out Things To Do in Western Cape to view activities by category, including water sports, sightseeing activities, arts & crafts and many more.

On SA-Venues.com you'll find plenty of South Africa accommodation options. We've also listed nearby activities for any town or city in which you plan to stay. And the big bonus is that you deal directly with the venues - no fees involved. With eight world heritage sites, a multitude of game reserves and national parks, over 1350 ha of national botanical gardens, and exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture, South Africa offers the traveller a unique and inspiring experience. Enjoy your stay in the Karoo!
Information about the Karoo in Western Cape, South Africa
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