Laingsburg is a small Karoo town, known as the gateway to the Great Karoo that has a proud tradition of old-fashioned hospitality. Descriptions of the Great Karoo always sound like paintings, going there is the only way to really comprehend it’s beauty. The wide open spaces, quiet and flat-topped mountains are unique. Small mammals like the riverine rabbit, bat-eared foxes and jackals make this semi-desert a very special place. Laingsburg is on the national road from Cape Town to Johannesburg (N1). This modern Karoo town was almost entirely destroyed by a flood only 100 years after it was founded, visit the Flood Museum for the full story. The town lies in a geologically fascinating area, look out for the white quartz band that runs across the hills on the east side of the National Road. This area is a 4x4 enthusiasts dream with several trails in the surrounding mountainous areas.
WHEN TO GO?
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.
FAUNA AND FLORA
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).
THINGS TO DO
1) Laingsburg Flood Museum
The Museum specializes in the history of the flood that washed away part of the town in 1981. It also includes a collection of African memorabilia featuring the Great Trek and Anglo-Boer War, as well as prehistoric items and historical weapons used by the khoekhoe.
This is also the location of the Tourism information office.
+27 23 551 1868
2) The Buffelspoort Rubicon 4x4 Trail
One of the wonderful gems of this region is Buffelspoort, a pristine wilderness and a natural heritage site. Less than 40 km from Laingsburg, the trail is 12 km long but takes between six and eight hours to complete due to its challenging terrain that consists of mud, water, rocks and sand.
It is a Grade three to four and is a strictly guided route. There are a number of awesome mountain passes, which make for breath-taking routes and memorable views...
Drivers and passengers should look out for some of the many different bird species, as well as land mammals, reptiles, and even the elusive leopard.
40 km from Laingsburg
+27 28 551 2117
3) Anysberg Nature Reserve
Anysberg Nature Reserve is in the semi-arid Klein Karoo, between the towns of Ladysmith, Laingsburg, Touwsrivier and Montagu. The reserve is 64 565 hectares of plains and Cape Fold Mountains, with deep valleys and steep gorges. Fed by three rivers, a diversity of life is supported here amid mountain fynbos and the characteristic veld of the Klein Karoo.
Visitors will enjoy regular sightings of the Cape mountain zebra, a number of antelope species, Black-backed jackal, caracal, Riverine rabbit and Brown hyena. The seldom-seen leopards still roam the mountains and 180 bird species are regularly seen. The reserve is also home to San rock art, painted thousands of years ago.
There is no cell phone reception on the reserve.
Office hours 07.30am – 4pm
Accommodation and permit bookings +27 21 483 0190
+27 23 551 1922
4) Anysberg Horse Trail
The Anysberg Horse Trail is a two-day trail in the Anysberg Nature Reserve. A reserve ranger will get you comfortably in the saddle before heading out on your journey. En-route there is a variety of plant, animal and birdlife as well as fascinating rock art to see and keep a look out for gemsbok and klipspringer. Camp overnight and enjoy an evening around a campfire under the stars.
Note that Bookings are essential.
Anysberg Nature Reserve
+27 21 483 0190
5) Witteberg Private Nature Reserve
Witteberg Private Nature Reserve in the heart of the Witteberg mountain range lies midway between Touwsrivier and Laingsburg. It is in a transition zone from the Little Karoo to the Great Karoo with the focus on the conservation of the Fynbos of the Witteberg.
There is spectacular mountain scenery, early Stone Age artefacts, cultural-historic structures and ruins, interesting geological formations, wildlife, birdlife, lichens, marine trace fossils, three Matjiesfontein fynbos vegetation types, clear night skies and great silence. These create a unique sense of place and mystery, ensuring that there is something of interest for all nature lovers.
+27 23-551 1946
6) The Diep en Deur 4x4 Trail (Through the Deep)
The Diep en Deur 4x4 trail is on the Witteberg Private Nature Reserve between Laingsburg and Touws River. This 15km trail is only one of four in the reserve and has wonderful views of the Matroosberg peak. This trail takes between four and five hours to complete with a difficulty grading of three.
The Diep en Deur trail is the longest in the reserve and is very well maintained. Expect shale and sandstone tracks and an immediate series of steeps ascents and descents.
Distance: 15km Time: 4 – 5 hours.
+27 23-551 1946
7) Josephskraal Trail
Josephskraal Trail is 40 km from Laingsburg and offers a circular route suitable for 4x2 vehicles with diff-lock. High clearance vehicles are required. The sandy track in the riverbed is more challenging and the experienced drivers are recommended to tackle this section. The trail is 23 km long and it takes about 3 to 5 hours to complete. The difficulty grading is from 3 to 5.
+27 83 229 5599 / +27 023 551 1913
8) Laingsburg Golf Club
The Laingsburg Golf Club is open all year, has 9 holes and guests are welcome every day.
+27 023 551 1051
9) Seven Weeks Poort
Near to Laingsburg there is a piece of unspoiled nature, the Seven Weeks Poort is the gateway between the Little Karoo and the Great Karoo. The low-lying mountain pass runs through the Swartberg Mountain Range for 17km long and crosses the stream 23 times. The sandstone layers of the folded mountain are revealed as you drive along this route. It makes for great photography. This route offers shade and cool mountain streams to the traveller after the hot, arid plains of the Karoo. Picnic sites near to these streams
10) Laingsburg Art Route
Six Public artworks are permanent features in the cultural life of Laingsburg, developed Stellenbosch University and various communities of Laingsburg. The artists collected stories and images shared by young and old in the communities and created artworks to form a “Flood art route”, offering spaces of play, contemplation and visual pleasure on the Flood Route – a walking tour of the town.
- Laingsburg Art Route featuring six public artworks that are permanent fixtures in the community
- Incredible photography opportunities across Seven Weeks Poort Pass
- Enjoy a round of golf at the Laingsburg Golf Club
- 4x4 tracks and 4x2 (with diff-lock) tracks available for the adventurous
- Nature reserves offer the opportunity to see rare wildlife and exercise the photography skills
- Horse trails and tours
- The Flood Museum reveals much in the way of historical events endured by this area
The original inhabitants of the region were Khoekhoe herders and San hunter-gatherers. Following the arrival of the early European colonists, the area was settled by Afrikaner Trekboers and Griqua people.
In the early colonial years farmers along the banks of the Buffels River offered hospitality to adventurers brave enough to cross the mountains and venture out onto the arid plains of the Great Karoo. In exchange for news of Cape Town and the civilised world, as well as gossip gathered from other farms along the way, these isolated farmers of the interior offered accommodation, food and feed for animals.
At these small homesteads on the vast plains travellers found fresh drinking water, safe outspans and many wrote that “comforts were offered by God-fearing brusque men, their shy women and hordes of children.”