The Terrific Karoo – A Spot of Excellent Dryness – South Africa

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The Good Karoo, is an spot of about four hundred 000 square kilometers.

Much less than two hundred yrs back big herds of antelope roamed the grass flats. The Bushmen/Hottentots, the very last Stone Age individuals, shared the “Location of Terrific Dryness”. The Hottentots herding their sheep and cattle in the age-previous pastoral pattern and the Bushmen next their classic nomadic pursuits of hunting and feasting.

Stock farmers gradually changed the wild video game with sheep and the grass receded together with the transformed grazing and weather designs.

Throughout the Anglo Boer War of 1899 the Republican Commandos and rebels from the Cape Colony, executed functions throughout the Karoo. In the Calvinia Magisterial district contributing a substantial number of fighters to the Republican induce.

A lot of blockhouses can even now be observed at strategic locations in the Fantastic Karoo with a primary instance at the Geelbeks River twelve kilometres exterior Laingsburg.

At the moment sheep farming is the financial backbone of the Karoo with other forms of agriculture having area in locations exactly where irrigation is doable. Lately activity farms and tourism to this intriguing place is also creating an influence.

Places to stop by in the Good Karoo in South Africa:

Prince Albert

Prince Albert had its origins in 1762 when a mortgage farm named Kweeckvalleij “the valley of cultivation and a great deal” was established in a green and fertile valley at the foot of the amazing Swartberg Mountains. Nowadays, the town is one particular of the prettiest in the state – a area of wonderful serenity and allure, with beautiful architecture, intriguing flora and fauna and wonderful Karoo hospitality. Just 2 kms from the foot of the awesome Swartberg Pass, Prince Albert is the excellent base for exploring the miracles of the Swartberg which includes Gamkaskloof (The Hell) and Meiringspoort. Climbing, mountain biking, birding and botanical excursions are main points of interest. Apart from a exceptional weather, with a substantial sunshine index and stunning night time skies, the village by itself is a smaller gem, with fantastically preserved Cape Dutch, Karoo and Victorian structures. Of these, 19 are Nationwide Monuments.

Prince Albert is recognised for its sun-ripened refreshing and dried fruit, specifically figs and apricots. Karoo lamb, olives, olive oil and selfmade cheeses are local delicacies. Pursuits for visitors include things like a guided historic walk as a result of the town, a properly marked “koppie path” with just about a hundred shown plants, fossil searching and stargazing, a tractor trail to the olive farm, classic Karoo foods and a visit to the delightful Fransie Pienaar Museum – and there is sufficient resort and guesthouse accommodation to fit all preferences and pockets. Prince Albert is properly situated for overnight stops from Gauteng, Cape City and Port Elizabeth. The Yard Route resorts and beaches are two several hours south by road. Oudtshoorn, the Cango Caves and the Karoo National Park are just an hour absent by road.

The Swartberg Mountains

The Swartberg mountains are a spectacular backdrop to the village of Prince Albert. After regarded as pretty much impenetrable, there are now 3 major gateways – the Swartberg Go, Meiringspoort and Seweweekspoort – linking the Fantastic Karoo with the Small Karoo and the coast. Meiringspoort and the Swartberg Go are pretty much on Prince Albert’s doorstep, and with their amazing natural beauty and numerous alternatives for recreation, ought to be on each visitor’s itinerary.


Soaring cliff walls with breathtaking rock formations line the twenty five km tarred street which winds together the ground of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 25 situations. Entry to the poort is by means of Klaarstroom, 55 kms east of Prince Albert en route to Oudtshoorn and the coast. Hardy vegetation cling to the precarious rock faces even though birds, baboons and more compact fauna abound in the protected kloofs and crevices.
Among the the most scenic spots is the waterfall tumbling into a dim pool which, legend has it, is bottomless. Meiringspoort has been flooded several occasions in its 140-yr historical past – 1885, 1968 and 1996 ended up devastating – and so the concept for constructing a substantial street above the mountains was born. The Swartberg Go was opened in 1888.

The Swartberg Go

The 27-km Swartberg Go is deemed just one of the finest mountain passes in the globe: an untarred street that winds to the summit 1 583 meters above sea degree in steep zigzags and unexpected switchbacks with breathtaking sights at each and every change. The highway is supported in locations by hand-packed stone partitions, a trademark of excellent street engineer Thomas Charles Bain. Along the way there are relics of an outdated jail, toll hut and other intriguing historical sites. Often covered with snow in winter season, the mountain’s exclusive micro-climate supports fynbos and a wealthy chicken daily life in contrast with the arid zone flora and fauna exterior its interesting shady kloofs. The Swartberg Move was declared a Countrywide Monument in its Centenary calendar year, 1988.


Gamkaskloof (also regarded as The Hell) is a interesting valley in the vicinity of Prince Albert the place a little, happy neighborhood lived in isolation for far more than 100 years. Obtain was only on foot or horseback, and harvests of dried fruit and wild honey were carried out by pack animals. When a highway was carved into the valley in 1962, a gradual exodus started, with the very last farmer, Piet Swanepoel, leaving in 1991. Their modest homes and relics of fruit orchards can even now be viewed. Accessibility to Gamkaskloof is 15 kms from Prince Albert close to the northern summit of the Swartberg Move. Website visitors need to allow for practically a full working day in a sturdy auto to journey the 57kms to the close of the valley and again.

Beaufort West

The Beaufort West Museum has an extraordinary assortment of awards built to South Africa’s pioneer coronary heart transplant surgeon, Professor Chris Barnard. The ornate Victorian making in which it is housed was the 1st City Corridor of South Africa’s very first municipality. There are a number of other architecturally exciting buildings in the city. An Anglo-Boer War blockhouse however “guards” the railway bridge. Once-a-year Activities: The Show – February The Beaufort West 50 % Marathon – March Kanniedood Marathon – May possibly Beaufort West Marathon – August Rotary Wildfees – September.

Gamkasberg Character Reserve

Scenic attractiveness is a significant function of this reserve which is dwelling to golden mimetes (a lately found out plant species), mountain zebra, baboon and a number of antelope species. Spring, when the wild flowers are in bloom, is the very best time to stop by the reserve. The duration of climbing trails varies from two hours to three days.

Karoo Nationwide Park

Pointed out for plains activity and a rich chook existence, the Karoo National Park also supports black rhino and the riverine rabbit. Between a quantity of shorter walks and mountaineering trails, the park has the world’s initial fossil path for the blind. Specially made for the adventurous, the demanding a few-working day Springbok Hiking Trail sales opportunities to the greatest position of the Nuweveld Mountains.


The town was almost absolutely wrecked by a flood in 1981 – only one hundred yrs immediately after it was proven. Images of the devastation, as very well as the Wolfaard Historic Assortment can be observed in the library. From a geological factor, Laingsburg lies in one of the most exciting locations of the Karoo, and the sunsets are fairly stunning. Annual function Karoo Ultra Marathon – September.


A Victorian village founded in 1884 as a health resort by a Scottish entrepreneur. Immediately after slipping into decrease, it was rescued and refurbished by a perfectly-acknowledged hotelier. The full village was declared a nationwide monument in 1975. The outdated station houses the Railway Museum and the large, privately owned Marie Rawdon Museum.

By Gerald Crawford