12 Reasons to Holiday in the Karoo

Story and Pix by Chris Marais

Claustrophic from too much corona lockdown? Desperate for a roadtrip?

Cue the piano accordion intro. Add some wide open spaces. Catch the last-light on a whirring Climax windpump. Greet the friendly sheepdog as he welcomes you to your farmstay. Sniff the aroma of a lamb chop done just right on the braai. Have another glass of pinotage from your stash.

Here's the Karoo - on your doorstep.
Here’s the Karoo – on your doorstep.

Chill out. You’ve arrived at the Best Place on Earth: the Karoo.

It’s funny how sometimes the most beloved destination in your world can be right there, under your nose.

Here’s a short checklist of 12 reasons why you should be packing for the Karoo. We’re all ready and waiting for you.

  1. It’s Accessible

Check your road map, your Google Earth or your GPS. Yes, we’re right there in the Middle Earth section of South Africa. We’re a day’s drive from just about anywhere in the country – and there’s no visa required. Just bring your good selves.

stuurmansfontein corbelled house
Sleep in a corbelled house at Stuurmansfontein outside Carnarvon.
  1. It’s Affordable

Nose around our Travel section on Karoo Space and Karoo Central and then move on to the websites of the Karoo destinations you choose, comparing the accommodation rates.

You will find the best deals in the world here. We specialise in true value-for-money holiday experiences. When last did you pay under R1 000 for a lovely self-cater cottage for two?

karoo road
The space magic of the Karoo.
  1. It’s a Safe Base

As you enter the Karoo, you will feel the security of pure space and wide-open horizons.

  1. A Place of Adventure

Whether you like to pedal your mountain bike over rough terrain, ride a well-bred Karoo horse across the veld, do the 250km Tankwa Camino walk from Calvinia to Ceres or simply hitch a lift on the back of a farmer’s bakkie as he goes to check the stock, there’s no shortage of physical adventure out here.

There are even secret spots in the Karoo where you can fish for giant trout.

groenvlei farm
Shearing season at Groenvlei Guest Farm outside Nieu-Bethesda.
  1. It’s Authentic

This is not a place of glitzy casinos, cavernous shopping malls or cheap tourist traps. The Karoo specialises in “authentic”, from the donkey cart driver to the sheep-shearers hard at work in the shed to the blacksmith to the stockman who is pleased to share his fireside stories with you.

route 62
Welcome to the Land of Slow Travel.
  1. There’s Good Food

Know one thing about the Karoo: we will feed you well. From the nationally-famous chefs on our farms and in our restaurants to our food festivals to simply finding a really great butchery for your braai meat, you will not go hungry.

  1. Celebrate With Us

When the COVID-19 lockdown abates, you’ll find the Karoo people like to party. We celebrate meat, books, the Nama Riel, custom-crafted wire cars, the first daisies of the season, agriculture and life in general at our festivals. It’s a great time to be in our neighbourhood.

  1. The Karoo Road Trip – A Rite of Passage

Whether you’re young or a “silver fox”, whether you like to ride a motorcycle, drive an SUV or a classic old roadster, a Karoo Road Trip has to be on your bucket list.

Come to where it’s quiet – the Karoo.
  1. Escape the City

Rush hour in the Karoo means wide open streets, a bakkie in the distance, perhaps a lone truck on the horizon and a curious meerkat by the side of the road. This is where you turn off the TV news for a week and embrace the silence.

little karoo
Poultry-watching on Route 62 with the family.

10. The Family Bond

When last did you, the wife and the kids take a walk out into the veld together? The Karoo is designed for family time.

11. Learn a Few Things

From the ancient wisdom of locals to the cultural treasures in the small towns, from the viewpoints of a farmer who grew up in the Karoo to understanding pre-human life on this ancient sea-bed, there is a vast array of knowledge on offer here.

ganora farm
You will find your secret place in the Karoo – like Ganora Guest Farm outside Nieu-Bethesda.

12. Your Special Place

And once you’ve visited us a few times, you will have found your Karoo connection: the farm you love to stay on, the family you always have coffee with along the journey, your favourite national park, the friendly barman at that pub in the middle of nowhere and the padstal where you always pick up your biltong.

For Karoo Books (print) CLICK HERE

For Karoo Ebooks CLICK HERE


7 thoughts on “12 Reasons to Holiday in the Karoo

  1. Pieter Reyneke says:

    After coming back after 3 weeks travelling in Belgium and the Netherlands, I fully agree! South Africa has so much more to offer travellers in terms of diversity and nature (and the weather!)! And besides, all the European cities look the same – you get out of the station, you see the Grote Markt with all the cafes, then you see the belfry and then the old beautiful old buildings with red rooftiles – definitely a trip to do to see where your ancestors are coming from, but we have a beautiful country, even with all its problems and useless (corrupt) government.

  2. Suki Viljoen says:

    Thank you. Informative and an interesting read. I am sold on the idea of a crawl. Now just to put dreams into reality. Come on Fairy Godmother wherever you are!!

    Chuckled at no long haul & hoping mister tortoise got across safely.

    I was taken around a little by Eastern Cape photographer Steve Bailey – I can see why people love it.

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  4. Leonie Whelan says:

    This is truly HOME…where the heart is. I have travelled through the Karoo many times as a child with my parents and now as an adult and I ALWAYS feel that feeling which is just so hard to describe….like I am in heaven seeing all the beautiful things, places, people and everything that to me is just plain beautiful. I always feel nostalgic and emotional and my heart is always so full of the best memories and at the same time, sad that some of my closest family who have passed away before me, are no longer with me to share this beautiful experience all over again. How I MISS them all:-(
    Thank you for all these beautiful photos and reminders of what really matters to me.

  5. Paul Karpeta says:

    The Karoo is for me the best place in the world – so quiet, so beautiful and so spiritual – just like my wife Karin, who also came from the Karoo. I have been there many times and will return there again.

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