The Karoo National Park is one of South Africa’s most accessible national parks, located a few kilometres west of Beaufort West and abutting the N1 motorway towards Laingsburg.
The park straddles the Nuweveld Mountains’ mountain slopes and high peaks, which stand sentinel over the broad plains of the Koup.
The park is home to around 63 mammalian species and 200 avian species, and it is a key sanctuary for the extremely endangered riverine rabbit, which is only found in the Great Karoo’s dry river courses.
Local farmer William Quinton was engaged in advocating the notion of a conservation area in the Beaufort West area in the 1950s, and the Karoo National Park was born. His enthusiasm stemmed from the fact that the Karoo once supported millions of plains game, particularly enormous herds of springbok, which had nearly vanished in the previous century. The legends of millions of trekbokke, or migrating antelope, passing through Beaufort West in the early 1800s conjured up images of a Karoo that had transformed beyond recognition.
The establishment of the Karoo National Park in 1979 was an important milestone in preserving at least a small portion of the Nama Karoo Biome that had all but disappeared after centuries of stock farming across the length and breadth of the Great Karoo.
Accessibility of this new National Park was further enhanced with the opening of the magnificently situated Rest Camp facing the high ramparts of the Nuweveld Mountains. Download a detailed map of the Rest Camp.
Aardwolf, Caracal, Bat-eared Fox, Cape Fox, Suricate and Aardvark, Red Hartebeest, Eland, and Black Wildebeest, among others, live in the Park, along with the endemic Cape Mountain Zebra and a variety of highly adapted species to the harsh, arid conditions, including Aardwolf, Caracal, Bat-eared Fox, Cape Fox, Suricate and Aardvark, Red Hartebeest,
With the reintroduction of Lion and the very rare and secretive Black Rhino into the area, the Rest Camp was recently fenced in.
The Karoo National Park has grown to around 90,000 hectares over the years, encompassing a vast swath of mountains, valleys, and open plains.
The access road from the main gate to the Rest Camp is paved, but all other roads in the reserve are gravel, with the main loop road providing access to conventional motor vehicles to the spectacular Klipspringer Mountain Pass and beyond via the Doornhoek Picnic site via the 45-kilometer Potlekkertjie Loop encompassing all of the Park’s main environments via the 45-kilometer Potlekkertjie Loop encompassing all of the Park’s main environments.
The shorter loop route connects the Rest Camp with Lammertjiesleegte and the well-equipped Bulkraal Picnic Site, which features a brilliant swimming pool, which is great for cooling off on a hot summer day.
The Fossil Trail, which is located near the Rest Camp and gives a wealth of information about the Karoo’s geological past and long-extinct animal species dating back 300 million years, is one of the park’s most popular attractions.
Visitors seeking a wilderness adventure in beautiful semi-desert and hilly terrain can access a network of 4X4 tracks in the Park’s remote western part. For those wanting full peace and isolation, this section of the Park offers minimal lodging in two remote cabins.
Despite its proximity to Beaufort West and the busy N1 highway, the Karoo National Park is a haven of peace and tranquilly that invites the jaded city dweller to experience a glimpse of the Karoo as it was before European settlers arrived and transformed the forbidding Karoo environment into one of South Africa’s most important stock farming regions.
The Park allows discriminating visitors to see the Karoo’s fragile, harsh, unforgiving, yet hauntingly beautiful Karoo, which has persisted for millennia. Trekbokke, or nomadic antelope, are extinct in large numbers.
However, due to the Park’s extension throughout a large stretch of the Central Karoo, one can still get a feeling of its magnificence and uniqueness in the midst of mountains, valleys, and rolling plains.