road tripper eastern cape karoo
road tripper eastern cape karoo

Road Tripper Eastern Cape Karoo

4.29 out of 5
(7 customer reviews)


Traveller’s Companion to the Eastern Cape Karoo region of South Africa.

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This is a book that reveals the secrets and delights of one of South Africa’s finest and most affordable holiday routes.

Road Tripper Eastern Cape Karoo has been compiled and designed as an easy-to-use and compact illustrated guide with a map, 130 insights and an extensive directory to point you to the best of the region.

The book lets you:

  • Plan a route with overnight stops at Victorian-era hotels, friendly guesthouses and traditional farmstays;

    road tripper eastern cape karoo

    Johan Trollip, one of the artists of Steytlerville.

  • Discover our array of Karoo padstalle (roadside farm stalls) and the delicious foods on offer;
  • Go on a remarkable pub crawl to all the quirky bars en route and get the publicans to sign their pages;
  • Learn the kind of lifestyle snippets you would never be able to source anywhere else;

    road tripper eastern cape karoo

    The Eastern Cape Karoo – undiscovered adventures for the traveller.

  • Break the ice with the locals, who are a friendly and hospitable lot;
  • Work out your own Karoo Bucket List of travels.

And at the end of your journey, Road Tripper Eastern Cape Karoo will be your take-home memento of a lifetime experience. You will have made new friends and found fresh downtime hideaways to return to, year after year.

Road Tripper Eastern Cape Karoo is also available as an Ebook, which you can order HERE.

Note: The book price includes local postage. If you are ordering from outside South Africa, contact for postage tariffs.

4.29 out of 5

7 reviews for Road Tripper Eastern Cape Karoo

  1. 5 out of 5


    On Friday as I entered Victoria Nance’s Dustcovers in Nieu Bethesda I was greeted by your book. I got one and on arriving home, I read it, every spare moment. Firstly of coure Middelburg, then followed all the other places I know.
    Congrats on a very good piece of work. Believe me, I know how much research has to be done. (fortunate for you, you still have the youth on your side!!!)
    Well done

  2. 5 out of 5


    Just got Road Tripper yesterday and have finished it already!! It is wonderful and a great addition to Karoo literature !!! Well done! Love it!!

  3. 4 out of 5


    That talented and very productive team, Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit, have just released their latest travel book, Road Tripper – Eastern Cape Karoo. The general area is within striking distance of the lower South Coast, a day’s drive away, and this book then opens it up for us.

    The book covers 17 towns and villages and the routes in between over 256 facing pages, each with a colourful and often amusing description and usually charming black and white photograph, Chris’s speciality.

    We meet so many of the region’s human characters, and believe me, there are lots of characters in the Eastern Cape Karoo who have been tracked down by the team, interviewed and photographed, and a few animal characters as well.
    There is a directory section giving each destination a heading of Eat, Play, Townstays, Farmstays and Events, covering pubs and grub, things to do and see, and where to stay.

    Go fossil hunting, mountain biking or perhaps at the end of the day, stoep sitting. All this helps to make an ideal travelling companion, particularly as it’s easy to read and will fit into the cubby hole or side pocket of the vehicle.

    [This review appeared in the South Coast Herald ( in December 2016.]

  4. 4 out of 5


    We spent time in the Karoo over the December holidays and your Road Tripper book accompanied us all the way! Love the book! It made our trip so much more fun and also took us places we would never have known about!

  5. 4 out of 5


    We travelled parts of the Karoo in December with your Eastern Cape Karoo Road Tripper in hand (bought at padstal). What a pleasure it was to read parts of it aloud to my husband as we drove past or into places mentioned. You have a talent for spotting and recording such interesting new facts about familiar places. We lunched at the Meerkat Deli, sadly no ‘budding beauties’ to take with to Hermanus, but on the way back we could buy enough bottles to intrigue our friends in Pretoria, both with the taste as well as the story.

    Loved the vignettes on Padkos, Stoep-sitting and especially The Local Lingo. We certainly can’t kom klaar without your books!

    Sylvia van Straaten

  6. 4 out of 5


    The best of couch travel will lead to actual travel. In this book, Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit’s unparalleled knowledge of their ‘hood underpins every page.

    Visually breathtaking and narratively engrossing, the anecdotes and pictures bring the region to life.

    Follow the track on the map, get a taste you will want to eat, and let these locals introduce you to the legends of the area’s history.

  7. 4 out of 5


    In their book Road Tripper, Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit write of the legend of Oom Das. “While you’re choosing your favourite windmills to take home, ask them about the late Oom Das Mowers. They will tell you Oom Das had the strongest teeth in town. He used them as pliers to bend the wire while he fashioned his exquisite windmills.”
    Windmills like the ones in our back yard and decorating our increasingly eclectic Karoo braai spot, which Chris has dubbed our Karoo Cantina, although we’ve adapted that to Cantina Peculiar. The wiry repertoire of these road-side artists has grown to include barques mounted inside bicycle wheels, angels, gemsbokke, outsize lizards and vases of rusty roses. Even our garden gate is garnished with roses fashioned of tin discards.

    It was Sandra Antrobus, matriarch of Market Street and her Victorian Tuishuise, who brought the Marais-Du Toits to Cradock from Johannesburg and it was she who brought us here from Cape Town. You don’t get to choose your Karoo town. It beckons you. But if you’re thinking of finding the right town that might call you “home”, you could do worse than using these genned-up scribes as a guide. Their Road Tripper – Eastern Cape Karoois well worth having to hand as you set out on the road.
    We soon learnt on arriving in this half-forgotten province that it is a fascinating new world (to us) of some of the most gorgeous countryside in South Africa. The terrain between towns ranges from sparse Karoo to lush, aloe-speckled mountainside, and in every town there is that curious shop where you will ignore common sense and the budget because you just have to have that, and that, and that. Like the braai-side rose gate we bought in Willowmore, where, they say in Road Tripper, “a serious pub crawl of the Eastern Cape Karoo should always involve a stopover at the Willow Bar”.

    It’s “a Karoo version of a man cave”, they write, replete with old signs, “your Texaco, your RAC, your Gold Dollar, your ‘Please Close the Gate’ warning and, as a masterpiece of local branding, your Cooper’s Dip signage” (the famous original sheep dip). And, according to the illustrative photograph opposite, the “Beware of Falling Drunks” sign, propped up against a jug of Motyer & Clements home-brewed ginger beer.
    If there’s been more time at the bar than legal driving would allow, hop aboard the “Willow Limo”. They write, “The best way to view Willowmore is from somewhere between the pointy ears of the donkeys of the Willow Limo service, driven by Jim Makwena. And in October, when everything is swathed in pink to raise money for breast cancer, they have pink scarves draped around their flower-trimmed harnesses.”
    We haven’t yet been to Steytlerville, which they keep telling us about, and where we will apparently find the Karroo Theatrical Hotel. They write, “In a former life, the Karroo Hotel on the outskirts of Steytlerville was a bit of a tequila shack. Or, in local parlance, a brandy palace. Then, through the efforts of present owners Jacques Rabie and Mark Hinds, it became the Alhambra of the Karoo – a place of beauty, entertainment and surprise.”

    This “once-rogue Art Deco outpost presents a weekend burlesque performance that stars Jacques in sequins and Mark on piano”. Jacques being “the hardest-working cross-dressing singer in the Karoo”.
    The smouse (travelling salesmen) of the Karoo are long gone, but in Graaff-Reinet one should have “a decent prowl around Die Smous, a cave of collectible wonders that sells everything from Wedgwood and China pieces to a Victorian mourning jacket, embroidered with jet and utterly unwashable”, they write of this beautiful Karoo town, one of the country’s four oldest. Die Smous celebrates these nomadic salesmen whose main customers were the Afrikaner families who also called them bondeldraers (bundle carriers). “In return for their wares they would take horns, hides, ivory and, later, ostrich feathers.”
    If you thought Nieu-Bethesda was the Karoo Owl Capital – well, it is, but it is also the Pumpkin Capital, and this remote, eerie village has a Pumpkin Palooza Festival at Easter.

    “These oddly-named vegetables (such as Big Moose, Turk’s Turban, Blue Doll, Red French and Lesotho Charlie) and their owners compete in categories which include Most Beautiful, Weirdest, Funniest, Smallest, Best-Dressed (yes, pumpkin), and Best Carved.” But the section which “has the judges (diplomatically selected outsiders) scratching their heads most is Sexiest Pumpkin”.
    “Would that be the gorgeous Hubbard Squash wearing the daring pole-dancer’s thong? Or are we looking for something more discreet, not necessarily shaped like a love nut from the Seychelles?”. Nieu-Bethesda artist Albert Redelinghuys, write Du Toit and Marais, seems to know the answer. “Spend time with the pumpkins, look deeper and you will see most of them have amazingly sensual curves.” Best served hot, presumably.

    But even between these exotic towns, there are curiosities you may whizz past if you hadn’t read this kind of traveller’s guide first. Like the stone memorial on your left on the road from Middelburg to Richmond. After a battle with British forces, Commandant JC Lötterand Lieutenant PJ Wolfaardt were captured and executed on this spot.
    “The stone bears the etching of a riempies chair, a symbol of two men who were seated here back in October 1901 and executed by firing squad.”
    Not long ago we drove along that road, but before we had read this book, so we whizzed by, ignorant. Now we know to look for it, stop, and take in another of the gazillions of secret delights that the Karoo holds in its ancient gaze.
    NOTE: This review was published on The Daily Maverick on 1 March 2018. Here is the link:

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