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Open Africa

Karoo Highlands Route


Features

   Accommodation

Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Soek 'n Slapie Guesthouse
Soek 'n Slapie Guesthouse offers accommodation in six bedrooms. The house was originally built in 1862 and some of the...

Annie's Inn
A supreme welcome awaits you when you stay at Annie’s Inn. This is a ‘home away from home’ and all sto...

Die Kuierhoekie Self-Catering Guesthouse
Die Kuierhoekie Self-Catering Guesthouse offers accommodation in two comfortable en-suite rooms. Each room has a kettle...

Lord Carnarvon Small Hotel
Lord Carnarvon Small Hotel is located in the centre of town near the local Spar and pharmacy. The hotel boasts an exquis...

Magrieta's Guesthouse
A guesthouse in Carnarvon that offers comfortable accommodation to travellers. 

Canariesfontein Guest Farm
The old farmhouse on Canariesfontein guest farm once belonged to Mr. Hugo, a former member of the Royal Air Force who se...

Ark Guesthouse
At Ark Guesthouse, you will be taken back in time to a welcome stay in uniquely decorated rooms. Accommodation is availa...

Joosteswerwe Guest Farm
Joosteswerwe Guest Farm is a working farm that in earlier years served as a halfway stopover for travellers who were on...

Hawthorne Country House
Hawthorne Country House is a restored old Karoo-style house located in Williston. Facilities: Fans; Heaters; Elect...

Tuishuis Gastehuis
Tuishuis Gastehuis offers comfortable accommodation in quiet surroundings. Enjoy our homecooked meals and relaxed atmosp...

Meerkat Manor
Enjoy the hospitality and friendliness of the Karoo and find peace under the star studded evening sky. Facilities: F...

Stuurmansfontein Corbelled House
Restored to its former glory, the Stuurmansfontein corbelled house provides guests with an experience of the way life wa...

Cape Dutch Guesthouse
Cape Dutch Guesthouse offers self-catering accommodation, but meals can be arranged at local restaurants. Braai (barbequ...

Muggefontein Gasteplaas
Featuring free WiFi and mountain views, Muggefontein Guest Farm is a holiday home, situated in Merweville. It provides f...

Ou Klipskuur Gasteplaas
There are two units available - Oude Klip and Oude Skuur. The accommodation comprises one bedroom and an en-su...

Osfontein Tree House
The Tree House: The Osfontein Treehouse is like an oasis in the middle of the Karoo. It offers an unique experience to...

Osfontein Corbelled House
The Corbelled Houses: These antique corbelled houses were built entirely of stone and appear only in the north-western...

Osfontein Old Stone Shed
The Old Stone Shed: The Old Stone Shed used be an ojd sheep shearing shed and has been converted into a self catering u...

Safari Lodge
Safari Lodge is situated in the middle of town within walking distance from all local shops and restuarants. Accommodat...

Out of Africa Guesthouses
Facilities: Air-conditioning; Braai (barbeque) facility; Microwave; Child-friendly; Secure parking; Satellite te...

Ikaia Africa Lodge
Ikaia Africa Lodge offers accommodation in eight private, air-conditioned units, each with a well-equipped kit...

Kalahari Flats
Accommodation & facilities: Six air-conditioned bachelor flats with well equipped kitchenettes for self-catering;...

Lord Willis
Lord Willis is a cosy guesthouse situated in Williston, Northern Cape. The bedrooms are equipped for self-cate...

Kliphuis Restaurant & Herberg / Country Inn
Die Klipshuis Herberg / Country Inn offers comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation on the edge of the small town of...

Lord Carnarvon Guesthouse
Lord Carnarvon Guesthouse offers accommodation in eight air-conditioned rooms. There is a lounge, satellite television a...

Carnarvon Hotel
Carnarvon Hotel offers affordable accommodation in Carnavon, Northern Cape. Accommodation options: Air-conditioned k...

Williston B&B and Zakrivier Succulent Nursery
Items for sale: Succulent plants; Homemade jams; Hand spun wool and knitted articles; Home baked rusks; and Skuin...

Zeekoegat Farm
Zeekoegat Farm is situated exactly halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town and is the ideal stopover for light aircra...

   Activities

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Dyno Footprint Experience
Experience the Karoo in all its facets. Fabulous Fraserburg offers a variety of tours, including the worlds only dyno fo...

Loxton Walking Geo Tours
Geoglyph, Geology, Geography. At the Loxton Info Hub, you can book an experience to explore Loxton and the surrounding a...

Williston Town Tour
Lost in Williston, and lost in time. Situated under wide open skies, the small town of Williston lies isolated in the va...

Karoo Adventure
Explore the past and experience the present. Karoo hospitality, scenic beauty, historical sites, cheese tasting and fun...

Carnarvon Historical Walking Trail
Toddle through our town, following in the footsteps of A.G. Visser, D.F. Malherbe, Franklin Sonn, the Boezak family and...

Northern Treasures
Follow the way north to hidden gems of the Karoo. The route features great Karoo hospitality, scenic beauty and historic...

Zeekoegat Farm
Zeekoegat Farm is situated exactly halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town and is the ideal stopover for light aircra...

Stuurmansfontein Farm
Restored to its former glory, the Stuurmansfontein corbelled house provides guests with an experience of the way life wa...

Victoria West Tours
Join us for an unforgettable journey in and around Victoria West. There is so much to see and to experience, from the Ar...

Appies van Heerden Nature Reserve
The 860 hectare Appie van Heerden Nature Reserve, with typical Karoo veld vegetation, lies on the road to Loxton in rock...

Canariesfontein Guest Farm
The old farmhouse on Canariesfontein guest farm once belonged to Mr. Hugo, a former member of the Royal Air Force who se...

Joosteswerwe Guest Farm
Joosteswerwe Guest Farm offers visitors a luxurious stay in the farmhouse, previously occupied by three generations of s...

Corbelled Houses
Discover ancient and forgotten rock wonders. Together with your farm host, discover rock art and two beautiful examples...

Osfontein Farm
For those looking for absolute privacy in an open Karoo landscape, away from noisy cars and the clutter of people, Osfon...

   Arts & Crafts

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Erika's Karoo Winkel
Erika's Karoo Winkel is located in Vosburg and sells a variety of homebaked goods and gifts.       &n...

Kedoedels
Kedoedels sells a variety of arts & crafts, as well as gifts, handmade items and delicious homebaked goods. The shop...

Langbaken Handcrafted Artisanal Karoo Cheese
Peter & Francy Schoeman share with you the art of traditional cheesemaking and keep you informed about what is happe...

Die Pers Malva
Die Pers Malva is a gift shop in Fraserburg. They also have a coffee shop and offer printing services.

Williston Mall
This original 'Karoo Mall' is not your usual city shopping experience, but as the saying goes, it is the only mall...

   Environment

Below is a list of environmental attractions on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

South African Succulent Plant Labyrinth
Adjacent to the Williston Dutch Reformed old stone church, a National Monument, this garden features a labyrinth layed o...

Appies van Heerden Nature Reserve
The 860 hectare Appie van Heerden Nature Reserve, with typical Karoo veld vegetation, lies on the road to Loxton in rock...

   Food & Drink

Below is a list of restaurants and other food and beverage outlets on this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Doppies Bar
A local pub in Williston. They also cater for parties and events. Stop over at the Doppies Bar for a cold drink. Open f...

Manna Restaurant
Manna Restaurant is situated in Williston and serves a variety of meals including hamburgers.

Ark Restaurant
The Ark Restaurant serves delicious homemade Karoo lamb dishes to overnight guests. Meals are prepared by booking or app...

Carnarvon Hotel & Blikkies Bar
Carnarvon Hotel offers affordable accommodation in Carnavon, Northern Cape. Accommodation options: Air-conditioned k...

Erika's Karoo Winkel
Erika's Karoo Winkel is located in Vosburg and sells a variety of homebaked goods and gifts.

Emzini-Wakuti Traditional Foods
Emzini-Wakuti Traditional Foods prepares traditional home cooked meals. Their speciality is a variety of mutton and chic...

Juliana's Restaurant
Juliana's Restaurant is located in Fraserburg and serves light meals daily. Sit and stay or take-aways are available.&nb...

Karoo Smul
Visit Karoo Smul in Carnarvon for the most delicious homebaked goods.

Kliphuis Restaurant
Kliphuis Restaurant offers delicious country meals for up to 40 seated guests. Bookings are essential!    ...

Lord's Kitchen
Visit Lord's Kitchen in Carnarvon for the best Karoo homecooked meals. The restaurant is tastefully decorated with a tru...

   Services

Below is a list of services on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Jacobs Broers
Jacobs Broers is a grocery store and general dealer in Carnarvon.              ...

Carnarvon Spar
Spar is a grocery store in Carnarvon. Their wide range of products is specially selected to give you superior quality at...

Die Medisynekas
Die Medisynekas sells a variety of gifts, cosmetics and other handmade items.           &...

Karoo Hoogland Municipality
Vision of Karoo Hoogland Municipality: Karoo Hoogland will be an economical growth node in the Northern Cape, earm...

Karoo Mega Stop
Services: Restaurant; Take-aways; Express shop; and Fuel.

Karoo Vleisboere Kooperatief Bpk
Karoo Vleisboere (meat farmers) is a farmers co-operation focusing mainly on sheep farming. The business started in 1932...

Liquorland Express
Liquorland Express is a one stop neighbourhood shop, offering a range of alcoholic beverages and related products at com...

Okki Deli
Okki Deli distributes quality lamb and mutton products from the small town of Williston in the middle of the Great Karoo...

Spektrum Promosies
Spektrum Promosies offers the following services: Musician; Sound & lighting; MC; Event planning; and Marketi...

Top Tjops
Top Tjops is a supplier of quality meat in Carnarvon, Northern Cape.             &n...

Williston Vleis Koƶperasie
Williston Vleiskoöperasie was established as a co-op on 4 March 1933. The primary aim of the co-op was the provisio...

Karusaf
KARUSAF – ACCREDITED SUPPLIER OF KAROO MEAT OF ORIGIN The taste, health of the meat and wellbeing of the animals...

Micaren Brandstof
Micaren Brandstof is a fuel supplier in Carnarvon. They are open 24 hours daily.          ...

R63 1-Stop
The R63 Kiosk offers the following products and services: Coffee & tea; Basic groceries such as milk & bread...

Quest Petroleum
Quest Petroleum is a lubricant company in South Africa with a focus on providing and distributing fuel, LP gas and vario...

Victoria West Tours
Join us for an unforgettable journey in and around Victoria West. There is so much to see and to experience, from the Ar...

GB Photography
GB Photography is located in Williston and offers the following services: Printing; E-mail; Fax; Photography;...

 

Overview
Events
History
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The Khoi and San People, who left their legacy as art on the rocks, gave the Karoo its name. The name originates from a Khoikhoi word, garo, meaning desert. The route offers many unique experiences such as stargazing, rock art, ancient Palaeo Surfaces, Anglo-Boer War sites, Karoo architecture and corbelled houses.

The Karoo Highlands Route includes experiences in and around Carnarvon, Fraserburg, Loxton, Victoria West, Vosburg and Williston.

Situated in the Northern Cape, this route covers a small, but very unique part of South Africa. This is the centre of sheep-farming in South Africa. The land provides, even though it may seem barren and flat. The Karoo offers some of the best stargazing on the planet.

Quiet and scenic, there is something for everyone here. While it may seem like sleepy towns at first glance, it offers all the iconic Karoo charm - friendly local people, icy nights and perhaps the best lamb in the country.

 

Carnarvon Annual Events:

Carnarvon Kommando Rit:

When: April

Where: Carnarvon, Northern Cape

Agricultural Show and Carnarvon Fly-in:

When: May

Where: Carnarvon, Northern Cape

Carnarvon Dutch Reformed Church Bazaar:

When: August

Where: Carnarvon, Northern Cape

Fraserburg Annual Events:

Fraserburg Logan Drama Festival:

This is the oldest and biggest drama festival specifically for school drama. Each year between 40 and 50 plays from the top schools around the country are show-cased. The festival provides a showcase for many of the upcoming talent in the theatre world, as well as bringing together writers, directors and actors.

Where: Fraserburg, Northern Cape

Williston Annual Events:

Williston Agricultural Show: 

Showcasing the area’s finest livestock and traditional horse riding events, the show also offers entertainment and stalls. The annual steak dinner and skoudans are yearly highlights on the Williston calendar.

When: February

Where:  Williston, Northern Cape

Williston Dutch Reformed Church Bazaar:

This fundraising event features a market with handcrafted items and wonderful local homemade delicacies for sale. A variety of Karoo lamb meals, snoek braai (barbeque) and wine auction forms part of the highlights.

When: April

Where:  Williston, Northern Cape

Williston Winter Festival:

Touted as the most authentic cultural festival in South Africa, this is a unique event which celebrates the fascinating unique talents, customs and landscape of the Northern Cape Karoo. Entertainment includes a variety of local and well known talents and there are always plenty of stalls selling delicious traditional Karoo food. The highlight of the festival is the dust-raising Nama Riel dance, performed by over 100 Riel dancers.

When: September

Where:  Williston, Northern Cape

Contact Person(s): Pieter Naude

Tel: +27 53 391 3659

E-mail: willistonwinterfees@gmail.com

Facebook: Williston Winter Festival

Williston Kommando Rit:

A longstanding tradition, this event sees riders of all ages enjoying a day of horse-riding through the open Karoo veld, a lunch stop and overnight camping on a different farm each year. Visitors are welcome!

When: December

Where:  Williston, Northern Cape

Natural history:

The Great Karoo covers an area of more than 400,000km² and was formed by an inland basin approximately 250-million years. At one stage the area was glaciated and the evidence for this is found in the widely-distributed Dwyka tillite. Later, at various times, there were great inland deltas, seas, lakes or swamps. During this time enormous deposits of coal formed and that still contributes significantly to the economy of South Africa today. Even though volcanic activity took place on a titanic scale, ancient reptiles and amphibians prospered in the wet forests and their remains have made the Karoo famous amongst palaeontologists.

Early history:

People have lived on this harsh plateau, the largest of its kind outside Asia, for about 500 000 years.  The Khoi and San people who left their legacy as art on the rocks gave the Karoo its name. The place’s name comes from Karusa, a Khoi word which means dry, barren, thirst land. This aptly describes the region where water is still scarce today.  

Journeys across this strange storehouse of nature can be long and tiring. It is an ancient, fossil rich land with the largest variety of succulents found anywhere on earth There are over 9000 plant species in the Great Karoo and one district alone is home to more species than the whole of Great Britain.

Some of the world’s most important archaeological sites are located in the Central Karoo, particularly in the Beaufort West and Nelspoort areas where fascinating stone-age sites and Bushmen engravings are to be found.

Colonial history:

Europeans first settled in the Cape in 1652 but made almost no inroads into the Karoo prior to about 1800. Before that time, large herds of antelope, zebra and other large game roamed the grassy flats of the region. The Khoi and Bushmen, last of the southern African Stone Age peoples, wandered far and wide. There were no Europeans and no Africans of Bantu extraction (The area was never wet enough for cattle and this is probably the main reason why it was never occupied by the Bantu). The two ethnic groups mentioned above differed substantially in their cultures and lifestyles; the Hottentots were described as grazers of sheep and cattle, while the Bushmen were hunter-gatherers (These were the original names given to these tribes by the Dutch. The terms may not be regarded as politically correct today). With the occupation of the region by European settlers, sheep gradually replaced the game and the cover of grass degenerated, owing to changes in the pattern of grazing and in the climate.

During the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, three Republican commando units, reinforced by the rebels from the Cape Colony, conducted widespread operations throughout the Karoo. Countless skirmishes took place in the region, with the Calvinia magisterial district, in particular, contributing a significant number of fighters to the Republican cause. Fought both conventionally and as a guerrilla struggle over the Karoo's vast expanses, it was a bloody war of attrition wherein both sides used newly developed technologies to their advantage. Numerous abandoned blockhouses can still be seen at strategic locations throughout the Great Karoo; a prime example is located next to the Geelbeks River, 12 km outside the town of Laingsburg.

Carnarvon:

In 1839 the British governor of the Cape, Sir George Napier, offered the Xhosa community of Schietfontein 98,000 morgen of land (approximately 19,600 hectares) surrounding Schietfontein, in exchange for their role in acting as a protective buffer between the San and the settlers. This included a majority of the farming land in the area today. The gradual disowning of land by the Xhosa people is one of the tragedies of the colonial and apartheid past, resulting in an almost exclusive white ownership of the farms in the Carnarvon district today. In the year 1847 a Rhenish mission station was established in Schietfontein. The first missionary was the reverend C.W. Alheit.

Fraserberg:

During this time, the only means of transportation and thus communication were horses and horse drawn carriages. Post was brought irregularly by stage coach from Beaufort West. Most farmers visited the town as few as four times a year and then only for the Nachtmaal (Communion). Distances were gauged by the distance a horse could ride in one hour (about 6 miles or 10km).

Early in the twentieth century Fraserburg received its first telegraph connection and you can still see the remains of this line between Fraserburg and Carnarvon today. A post office opened in 1858 which led in an era of development in the town. A magistrates office opened in 1859, a police staion in 1860, a doctor moved to town in the same year and the prison opened in 1861 and closed down more than a century later in 1968. Fraserburg was finally proclaimed as a municipality on 6 June, 1862. The first electric power was supplied on 16 September, 1958 and the town switched to ESCOM power in 1983.

The legendary writer/poet A.G. Visser lived in the Fraserburg district. He was born in a tent under a pear tree, on the farm Zaaifontein.

Loxton:

Loxton is situated in the heart of a sheep farming region was founded in 1899 when the Dutch Reformed Church bought the farm, Phezantefontein from Mr. Loxton. Loxton is a typical small Karoo town lined with trees and water furrows. The water furrows provide water to the town’s residents from a nearby fountain on a weekly basis. Many of the structures in Loxton were built in the typical Karoo style of the 1900's and some have been lovingly restored by new owners. 

Victoria West:

Nestled between two mountains and a river lies the small town of Victoria West. The town with an unofficial population of little over 11 000 people was founded in 1855 and has since grown into a thriving Karoo town. The main economic activity in the region is sheep farming. Victoria West was founded in 1843 when the Dutch Reformed Church bought a part of the farm Zeekoegat from Mr J.H. Claassens. The town was then named after Queen Victoria of England and was known simply as Victoria. It was only later, when Victoria district was formed in the Eastern Cape that 'West' was added to the name to distinguish it from its eastern counterpart. The town in the Eastern Cape was renamed Victoria East.

It is interesting that a small town like Victoria West was the location for the second Standard Bank in South Africa. in the original building was constructed in 1856 and although the bank moved to a new building, the signatures of the first shareholders can still be seen on a piece of pig skin in the Victoria West Regional museum. 

Wlliston:

On 10 July, 1768 Johan Abraham Nel of Stellenbosch rested near a fountain close to the Sak River while his wife was giving birth to his firstborn son. Nel planted an almond tree in honour of the event that eventually served as an oasis in the dry treeless area of the Karee Mountains. The same site was visited by Johann Heinrich Lutz of Switzerland in 1845 where he established a mission station named Amandelboom (Almond tree). In 1883 the name was changed to Williston, in honour of the British Cape Colonel Secretary, Colonel H Willis. The town is situated on the beds of the Sak River, a seasonal river where unique riverbed irrigation, similar to that at the Nile River in Egypt is practiced. 

East of Williston are two prominent hills that are shaped like a sugar loafs. The hills were known as ‘Sangkoppe’ in nineteenth century and later as ‘Singkoppe’ (Singing Hills). Choirs would sing spiritual songs from the hills that echoed through the area.

Vosburg:

 

 

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Open Africa Routes

A route is a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants. It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary.

South Africa - Northern Cape

South Africa - Northern Cape

The Karoo Highland Tourism Route is situated in the northern Cape Province of South Africa. The route covers small Karoo towns of Fraserburg, Carnarvon, Loxton, Victoria West, Vosburg and Williston.

Key Contacts

Name:
Elsa van Schalkwyk

Telephone: Click here
Mobile: Click here

Tags

desert farm-stays vosburg cheese williston-winter-festival farm-accommodation scenic vosburg sheep-farming karoo carnarvon 4x4 fraserburg logan-drama-festival williston food rock-art nieuwoudtville loxton heritage escape corbelled-houses victoria-west riel-dancing northern-cape stargazing

 

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