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    Beaufort West

About Beaufort West

Beaufort West is the largest town in the Great Karoo region in the Western Cape. It is the home to the Karoo National Park in which the very special and endangered Black eagles and Black rhinoceros find solace.

The Karoo has been home to generations of indigenous 'Khoekhoe', who have left their mark in the form of rock art in caves and on rock faces throughout the area. The fossil-rich terrain is home to some of the most important archaeological sites in the world, specifically some Stone Age sites have been unearthed.

By car, one could find Beaufort West along on the N1 national highway linking Johannesburg to Cape Town. The main railway lines run past the town and the third option is to utilise taxi services or the major inter-city busses which all operate in and around the town.

Autumn and spring are the best seasons to visit. The days are not too hot and nights are not too cold.

The best time of the year to go is Autumn (March and April) when the days are cooling. Rainfalls in summer and has some incredible thunderstorms. Snowfalls are known to occur as late as September. Temperatures increase dramatically (40°C) during November and remain high until February before they finally decrease by April. The mid­winter months of June and July are cold (0°C) and dry.

More than 130 bird species have been recorded around this area. Look out for Black, Fish and Marshall Eagles. Cape sugarbirds are often seen perching on a Protea bush and the Pied kingfisher around water.

Colourful lizards and agamas can be seen sunbathing on rocks and paths. Be more careful of the 11 species of snake getting their dose of sunshine especially in winter.

The Great Karoo’s underground water resources were discovered in the late 1800s which made permanent human habitation and sheep farming possible. As a result, the initially large herd of antelope that were found in the area disappeared and with them the large carnivores also disappeared. Today caracal, Black-backed jackal, Verreaux's eagle and the Martial eagle are the largest predators likely to be seen. If you are lucky you may spot a leopard in the mountains. The zebra, buffalo, black rhinoceros and lions in the Karoo National Park are all reintroduced to the area.

It is a grassy shrub lands with succulents and riparian thickets in the riverbeds. Some flowers bloom throughout the year while others flower in spring. In early autumn, many protea species flower, attracting sugarbirds and sunbirds. During mid-summer (December – February).

The old Town Hall and the Dutch Reformed Church are national monuments.

1) Molteno Pass
North of the Beaufort West is the Molteno Pass (15 km) – a combination of tar and gravel that climbs 647 vertical metres to summit on the plateau at 1574 m. The pass connects Beaufort West with Loxton some 110km to the north. This is a scenic drive with a variety of beautiful landscapes as well as access to a bush camp, the Gamka Dam and the Bontebok Pass. The road follows the eastern boundary of the Karoo National Park for most of its length.

2) De Jager's Pass
De Jager’s Pass (north from Beaufort West on the R3810) is one of the Karoo’s most dynamic. It is a good gravel road about 30 km NNE of Beaufort West. There is very little reason to be on this road as it is a farm road and leads only to other farms in the area, but it does offer many options to the adventurous traveller.

3) Teekloof Pass
This beautiful pass is between Leeu-Gamka on the N1 and Fraserburg on the R353. The tar road traverses unusual high-altitude scenery dotted with mountains and wide expanses of plains covered in typical Karoo bushes. A view site, Breakfast Nek at 1265 m ASL has some shelter from the summer sun. This is an excellent place to take a break and enjoy the grand views. The pass is named after the ravine carved out by the Teebosrivier (Tea Bush River). The pass was built by Thomas Bain (South Africa’s most famous road builder) around 1881 It is considered to be among South Africa's oldest mountain passes.

4) Oukloof Pass
The Oukloof Pass is a gravel farm road running through the Nuweveld Mountains. About 40 km from Fraserburg. About 9km in length it climbs 340m in altitude to summit at 1536 m ASL. The pass is subject to snow in winter and can be very dangerous during heavy rain as the pass makes use of a river course and has no bridges. Travelling north on the N1, turn left (north) at Leeu-Gamka onto the R353 for 25 km
Things to do

5) Ko-Ka Tsara Game Reserve
Ko-Ka Tsara Private Game Reserve is about 8km outside Beaufort West and offers activities ranging from game viewing to stargazing.

In the Nuweveld Mountains, this private game reserve is home to a variety of game including giraffe, kudu, gemsbok, wildebeest, eland, red hartebeest, aardwolf, klipspringer, impala and bushbuck. The game reserve is also home to over 200 different birds species.

Ko-Ka Tsara also offers some of the best stargazing in South Africa. Falling stars are regularly seen here.

6) Beaufort West Walk
Explore the historical buildings of Beaufort West on this self-guided walk. Maps and info available at the Tourism Office.
+27 23 415 1488

7) Beaufort West Museum Complex
The complex comprises three buildings, the old town hall, the old mission church and the Pastorie.
The Pastorie is Dr Christiaan Barnard’s boyhood home. The world’s pioneering heart surgeon was born in Beaufort West. The local museum houses memorabilia and a replica of the operating theatre at Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital, where the world’s first heart transplant took place in 1967.

The oldest Town Hall in the country. It was the first city hall to be built in the Karoo and sports a beautiful facade decorated with moulded plaster.
The mission church building houses a depiction of the town's history. Today the church contains exhibits portraying the role various religious denominations played in the history of Beaufort West, as well as collections of firearms and leather apparel.
Open from Monday to Friday 8.30am – 12.45pm and 1.45pm – 4.45
Saturday: 9am – 12pm
89 Donkin Street

8) Birding
Spot unique birds with Karoo Birding Safaris or get a birding list at the Karoo National Park and go see what you can spot for yourself.
Karoo Birding Safaris +27 83 724 7916
Karoo National Park +27 23 415 2828

9) Donkey Cart Trips
The traditional mode of transportation in the Karoo is donkey cart. Enjoy it on the Karoo Sundowner Tour, the Beaufort West Historical Tour or the Kwa Mandlenkosi Township Tour by African Kombi Tours. Tailor made charter tours on request.
+27 78 965 8413

10) Finding fossils
The fossil-rich terrain of the Karoo features some of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Stone Age sites and Bushman engravings have been found all over the Karoo. The Karoo National Park has a Karoo Fossil Braille Trail designed for handicapped visitors.
- Karoo National Park +27 23 415 2828
- Leeuwkloof Safaris +27 23 418 1621

11) 4x4 Trails
There are a number of unique 4x4 self-drive trails around the area.
- Karoo National Park +27 23 415 2828
- Bergplaats +27 84 805 4958
- The Vale Karoo Farm +27 82 968 7991
- KoKa Tsara Bush Camp +27 23 415 2753

12) Game drives
- Karoo National Park +27 23 415 2828
- Bergplaats+27 84 805 4958
- Teri Moya Game Lodge +27 82 789 3040
- Ko-Ka Tsara Bush Camp +27 23 415 2753
- Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve +27 83 540 4573

13) Golf Course
Enjoy a round of golf under the blue Karoo skies, on one of the Karoo’s few green golf courses. Visitors welcome.
+27 23 414 3050

14) Guided Day Trips
There are a number of organisations that do guided day trips. Contact:
- African Kombi Tours +27 82 641 6697
- Karoo Reisen +27 84 255 5616
- Karoo Spirit +27 82 787 3406
- Karoo Birding Safaris +27 83 724 7916

15) Mandlenkosi Bicycle Tours
This popular township tour takes you around the streets of Mandlenkosi and Rustdene, the historically black townships of Beaufort West. Eat local Karoo snacks and stop at the shebeen to enjoy traditional beer.
+27 78 965 8413

16) Hiking Trails
For hiking in the region contact:
- Karoo National Park +27 23 415 2828
- Bergplaats +27 84 805 4958
- The Vale Karoo Farm +27 82 968 7991
- Hillandale +27 23 416 1714
- Ko-Ka Tsara+27 23 415 2753

17) Hunting
Various farms in the area offer hunt. Contact the tourism office for a list.
+27 23 415 1488

18) Olive Grove Guest Farm
20km outside of Beaufort West is the Olive Grove Guest Farm, a country comfort and authentic Karoo olive and game farm. From accommodation, karoo flavours in the restaurant, and olive shop and a venue for weddings and other functions.
Activities on the farm include:
● Swimming Pool
● Porcupine informative Trail
● Bird Watching - Bird List available
● Canoeing on the dam
● Donkey Cart Rides
● Mountain Bike trails
● Jogging routes (distances measured & signposted)
● Hiking
● Farm Tour and Working Karoo Farm Tours Explore our farm and encounter Springbuck, Gemsbok, Kudu, Blesbuck, Ostrich and smaller species.
+27 023 414 3397

19) Steenbokkie Nature Reserve
A peaceful get away, with self-catering chalets, luxury and economy rooms and large shady Caravan/tent stands covered with lush grass. Enjoy the rare solitude and intrinsic beauty of the Karoo. Activities on the farm include:
● Adult and kiddies swimming pools
● Bird Watching
● Cycling
● Donkey carts trips
● Sundowner or Game viewing drives
● Driving Range
● Feeding the Farm animals
● Game Viewing by foot, bicycle or own vehicle (see the following wildlife: Steenbok, Blue and Black wildebeest, Springbok, Kudu, Zebra and Red Hartebeest)
● Stargazing
● Hiking trails
● Playground jungle-gym and swings
● Trampolines
● Volleyball

20) Mountain biking
The remoteness of the Karoo and its dirt roads are favoured by many mountain bikers! The following farms have mountain bike trails:
- Bergplaats +27 84 805 4958
- Rooiheuwel +27 23 412 1669
- The Vale Karoo Farm +27 82 968 7991

21) Quad biking
Various guest farms provide quad bike riding:
- Bergplaats +27 84 805 4958
- The Vale Karoo Farm +27 82 968 7991

22) Bergplaats Game Farm
Bergplaats Game Farm, 80 kilometres outside Beaufort West is pristine Karoo land set against the backdrop of a towering, rugged mountain. The semi-arid landscape stretches to the horizon under the blue sky with herds of antelope graze across the rolling hills. Activities include:
● Target Shooting
● Night Game Drives – Animal behaviour is quite different at night so observing the animals in the dark is a big part of any safari.
● Children Entertainment
● Mountain Biking Trails 4x4 Trail
● Hiking Trails
● Landing Strip

23) Rock Art
Visit the rock engraving complex at Nelspoort, a town lies at the foot of the Nuweveld Mountains, 50 kilometres north-east of Beaufort West on an old section of the N1 highway.
+27 71 614 2051

24) Adventure Sports
Sports X-ventures for Paintballing, Aqua Zorbing
+27 82 782 8404

25) The Vale
The Vale is a working sheep farm 30Km east of Beaufort West. It offers a vast range of relaxing and exciting activities to keep busy on a holiday or honeymoon.
● 4X4 Routes
● Quad Biking
● Horseback Riding
● Mountain Climbing
● Hiking Trails
● Cycling / Mountain Biking
● Star Gazing
● Swimming in ‘Plaasdam’
● Hunting
+27 82 968 7991

26) Karoo National Park
The Karoo National Park is a wildlife reserve within the Great Karoo on the outskirts of Beaufort West.
It has a wide variety of endemic wildlife and an abundance of raptors – buzzard, goshawk, kestrel – and the 20 pairs of breeding black eagles living in this protected park. It is also home to the endangered black rhinoceros, quagga and riverine rabbit. Many species have been relocated to their former ranges – such as brown hyena, lion and Cape mountain zebra. There is also a wide diversity of succulent plants and small reptiles.
Five main attractions:
● Rooivalle lookout point
● Bulkraal picnic site
● Fossil trail
● Ou Schuur Interpretive Centre
● Nursery

Quick Facts

Province: Western Cape
Country: South Africa

Why go?

- Descriptions of the Great Karoo always sound like paintings, to go there is the only way to get its sense.
- The wide open spaces, quiet, and flat-topped mountains are unique.
- The creatures like the riverine rabbit, bat-eared foxes and jackals make this semi-desert a special place.
- Beaufort West is known as the capital of the Karoo
- mountain biking
- Hiking trails
- Paintball and adventure sports
- Golf Courses
- Arts & Cultural activities
- Nature reserves for game viewing and nature walks
- Horse riding guides and tours

History icon


Beaufort West was the first town to be established in the central Karoo and the first municipality (and the first town hall) in South Africa (1837). Founded in 1818 and named for Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort a governor of the Cape at the time. When the railroad reached the town in 1880 it became a marshalling yard and locomotive depot. In 1849, Sir John Fraser observed one of the largest migrations of mammals on record. He documented a herd of Springbok that took three days to pass the town.

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