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Best 5 Reasons To Visit Karoo National Park In Southafrica

The best 5 reasons to visit Karoo national park in south Africa include; game viewing, birding, history, vegetation,  and Sylvester single track. Karoo National park was founded in 1979 and it is a wildlife reserve in the Great Karoo area of the Western Cape in  South Africa near Beaufort West. The semi-desert area covers an area of 750 square kilometers.

The Nuweveld portion of the Great Escarpment runs through the Park. It is therefore partly in the Lower Karoo, at about 850 m above sea level, and partly in the Upper Karoo at over 1300 m altitude. The park is a natural harbor to different types of wildlife species for example springbok, gemsbok, red Harte beest, black rhinos, ostriches and so on. The park also has the greatest number of tortoises species in the whole world.

The riverine rabbit that is endangered has also a been successfully settled here. The park is also home to different bird species that include a large number of Verreaux’s eagles have nests on the cliffs of the Escarpment. Martial eagles, booted eagles and the shy Cape eagle-owl are other raptors( birds of prey) that can be seen in the Park. There is also a wide variety of smaller birds in abundance, making the Park a bird lovers paradise.

The park has also been populated with Rau Quagga which are Plains or Burchell’s zebras that have been back-bred to resemble the quaggas that roamed the karoo in great profusion until the middle of the 1800s, when they were hunted to extinction. The last quagga died in Amsterdam Zoo on 12 August 1883.  The Park has a camp site for caravans and tents, chalets, an à la carte restaurant, a shop for basic necessities and curios, and picnic sites.

The Park can be viewed by visitors on their own or with a guide. Often used a stop-over for those traveling between Cape Town and Johannesburg, the Karoo National Park is best visited during late winter, spring and autumn, as the summer months can be uncomfortably warm. The Karoo National Park is accessible for any type of vehicle and boasts some wonderful 4×4 routes.

Most notably the Nuweveld Trail which follows a 90-kilometre route into the western section of the park, boasting steep, rocky sections and sandy dry river crossings.There are two main game viewing drives that do not require a four-wheel drive vehicle: the one to the east remains on the “Lammertjiesleegte” plains of the Lower Karoo; the other is the 49 km long circular route to the west which ascends the Klipspringer Pass on to the plateau (Upper Karoo), and eventually returns to the plains at the “Doornhoek” picnic site at the western extremity of the loop.

From there it follows a south-easterly course across the plains to the beginning of the Klipspringer Pass, near the camp site and chalets. At the top of the Klipspringer Pass the Rooivalle View Point presents a magnificent panorama of the Lower Karoo. The middle portion of the park, to the west of the Klipspringer Pass circular route, is easily accessible in 4×4 vehicles, and covers an extensive area, with rewarding game viewing opportunities.

The best 5 reasons to visit Karoo national park are explained below;

1. Wildlife viewing in Karoo national park

The park is home to the different animal species and the area is known to have had large prides of lion living in it, and the name ‘Gamka’, which is given to a river in the area, is the Khoi word for Lion. Though the lions in the park were depleted because the scarcity of prey( antelopes) that were hunted by the first whites who came into this area. Cheetah, Leopard, Wild Dog and Hyena were also existent in the area but, none remain in the park today.

Huge herds of thousands of Springbok once roamed the land here and many still remain on the surrounding farms however not in the abundance that they once were. There are 66 different mammal species found in the wilderness park today, these were reintroduced after the historic populations were hunted to extinction. You can see Black Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Common Eland, Southern Gemsbok (Oryx) and Cape Mountain Zebra all in the park.

Greater Kudu are also common and can often be spotted along the watercourses just outside the safari park. Grey Rhebok, Springbok, Common Duiker, Steenbok and Klipspringer can also all be found in the park. Baboons can be seen the slopes of the escarpment, and Vervet Monkeys are often seen along the river areas amongst the sweet thorn trees.

The Karoo National Park has around 59 different species of reptiles found in it, including 6 different tortoises and 35 lizard species. If all of this does not make game viewing one of the best reasons to visit Karoo national park, then I do not know what is.

2. Bird watching in Karoo national park

Being a vast wilderness, the park is also home to bird species making this one of the best 5 reasons to visit Karoo national park for bird lovers. There are at least 200 species of birds found in the nature reserve and the park is well-known for its large population of Verreaux’s Eagles and is considered a ‘bird of prey hot spot’ with 23 raptor species found in the reserve including Booted Eagles, Black Harriers, Pale Chanting Goshawk, and Rock Kestrels.

Common Ostrich, Kori Bustards and Ludwig’s Bustards and Karoo Korhaans are often seen on the plains. While birding on the plains route, larks and chats are prominent. Karoo Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard and Namaqua Sand-grouse should also be looked for. The park’s best birding occurs in and around the campsite.

Acacia Pied Barbet, Red-eyed Bulbul, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Pale-winged Starling, Southern (Lesser) Double-collared and Dusky Sunbird and Redheaded Finch are all ever present. Karoo Eremomela, Namaqua Warbler (Prinia) and Pririt Batis are regional specials to be looked out for. These are all found in the park as one package, though not organized but really the experience.

3. History of Karoo national park

Proclaimed a national park in 1979, the Karoo National Park in the Western Cape is situated just outside of Beaufort West on the border of the Northern Cape of Namibia. The Nuweland mountain range dominates the park and forms an amphitheater backdrop to the undulating plains that stretch out below it and form the majority of the conservation area.

Taking over 88 000 hectares, the nature reserve lies in the heart of the Great Karoo and has an extremely rich fossil history. Many of the fossils are found in the sedimentary rocks of the Beaufort group that were originally laid down here a long time ago. There has not been a lot of research into the early inhabitants of the nature reserve, however it is known that the San people lived here for several thousand years and that the cattle herding Khoi khoi were also present.

However, it was only in the 1970s that South African National Parks (SAN Parks) proposed the establishment of a national park that would be representative of the Nam-Karroo bio-me. The South African Nature Foundation (SANF), funded through the commission and sale of special art stamps depicting the flora and fauna of the Great Karoo, campaigned to make this happen.

In a gesture of support, the Town Council of Beaufort West donated 7 209ha of communal land north-west of the town to SAN Parks. This area then formed the  nucleus of Karoo National Park, proclaimed in 1979. SANF purchased additional land to be incorporated into the Park, and in 1989 a luxury rest camp was opened.

4. Vegetation in Karoo national park

The park also has a wide vegetation cover and Karoo National Park falls within two biomes, namely the Nam-Karoo, which covers the largest section of the Park and a relatively small section of the Grassland. The Upper- and Lower Karoo Bio regional units occur in the Park, representing the Western Upper Karoo, Upper Karoo Hardeveld and the Gamka Karoo vegetation types.

The Grassland Biome is represented by the Karoo Escarpment Grassland vegetation types, which is part of the Dry High veld Grassland region. The vegetation consists of Montane Karoo grassy shrub lands, Karoo grassy dwarf shrub lands, Karoo succulent dwarf shrub lands and riparian thickets. Thirty percent of the recognized endemic plant species of the Nama-Karoo Biome are conserved within the Karoo National Park.

And through this vegetation is where you can find a whole lot of animal species including the small creatures like the lizards and big animals  for example the cape zebras as well joined with different bird species. Making it one of the best 5 reasons to visit Karoo national park.

5. Sylvester single track in Karoo national park

The park also has a trail or track which is 2.7km looped track inside a rest camp is 2.7km long and is available to mountain bikers and joggers. The track is only for the use of overnight visitors. The track is within the fenced rest camp area to give visitors the option to hike,jog or mountain bike in a safe area, this makes it possible for those of you who would like to do activities in the night in the wild.

This also gives a whole new experience because few parks give tourists the opportunity to do activities during the night because of the uncertainty of the wild animals. This by far makes it one of the best 5 reasons to visit Karoo national park.

When to visit Karoo national park

Karoo national park can be visited throughout the year. But with Karoo national park’s arid to semi-arid climate, wildlife viewing isn’t much influenced by the seasons. Summer and winter have extreme temperatures, so the best time to visit is in spring (August, September) and autumn (April, May) when the days are not too hot, and the nights are mild. Blooming flowers make spring a particularly attractive time to visit the park.

How to get to Karoo national park

The park is located 12km/7mi outside the town of Beaufort West on the highway between Johannesburg and Cape Town and is primarily visited as a stopover on a self-drive trip by most tourists. The distance from Johannesburg is approximately 1,000km/622mi, while it’s 500km/310mi from Cape Town.

A normal car can be used to visit the park, but many tracks are limited to 4×4 only. Most visitors of Karoo National Park first fly into Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg or Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town. The closest airport is George Airport (GRJ), approximately 300km/187mi from the park.

Accommodation in Karoo national park

Accommodations near Karoo national park are all classified into different group depending on tourists’ desires. Namely luxury accommodations, mid-range accommodations, and budget options.

Luxury accommodations

These are made for those tourists who are willing to have a luxurious stay in Namibia.

  • Lemoenfontein Game Lodge; Built in 1850 and overlooking the mountainous Karoo semi-desert, this safari lodge is 5.3 km from National road 12 and 16.8 km from Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve. Offering free parking, WiFi, pool and other amenities all at a price of USh 331,099.

Mid-range accommodations

These are accommodation made for those tourists who would like to live luxuriously but not willing to pay astronomical prices to fulfill that.

  • Die Herehuis Guesthouse; Casual rooms with rustic elements in a relaxed guesthouse offering an outdoor pool & a garden. Offering free WiFi, parking, air conditioning and pool amenities among others all at a price of USh 244,070.
  • Ko-Ka Tsara Bush Camp; The accommodation offers pool, parking and breakfast amenities among others at USh 268,152.

Budget options

These are the accommodations that are made for those tourists who are not willing to live luxuriously while in Namibia visiting Karoo national park.

  • Villa Contessa; This accommodation offers breakfast, parking ,WiFi, and also pool amenities among others all at a price of USh 136,292. And also pet friendly.
  • Wagon Wheel Country Lodge; Informal quarters in a quaint hotel offering dining, a bar & an outdoor pool, plus mountain views. Offering parking, WiFi, pool and air conditioning amenities among others all at a price of USh 146,027.

In conclusion

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