National Park and 4x4 Trails
The Great Karoo is a vast and unforgiving landscape. Being the largest ecosystem in South Africa, the Karoo is home to a fascinating diversity of life,
The Great Karoo is a vast and unforgiving landscape. Being the largest ecosystem in South Africa, the Karoo is home to a fascinating diversity of life, all having adapted to survive in these harsh conditions. What was once known for being a convenient, single-night stopover for weary travelers between the Cape and inland, has become a Park offering a multitude of activities enticing guests to want to stay longer? A mountain bike trail, guided and un-guided walks, a selection of 4×4 trails, guided game drives, breathtaking landscapes and an array of plant and animal life now sees guests specifically planning visits to Karoo National Park.
Day visitors are most welcome to visit the Park throughout the year – with no bookings required.
The Park is popular among day visitors for its Bulkraal and Doornhoek picnic sites. Each has picnic and ablution facilities, while Bulkraal also sports a braai area, sparkling blue pool, and lush, green grass all year-round. It can be found just off the Lammertjiesleegte tar road, about 10km from Reception. Please note that due to its popularity, management may be required to cap the number of guests to Bulkraal over the busy summer periods. Doornhoek is situated at the halfway mark on the circular Potlekkertjie route – about 25km from the rest camp when approaching from the Klipspringer Pass.
Administration: Mondays to Fridays 07:30 to 16:00
Reception: 07:00 to 19:00 daily
Main gate: 05:00 to 22:00 daily, although there is security at the gate 24/7. Late arrivals and early departures must be arranged through Reception. As the Park is easily accessible from the N1, we welcome walk-in stays by weary travelers after hours. Security is provided with keys to a number of available units each evening and guests checking in after hours are requested to report to Reception the following morning.
Game area gates: 07:00 to 18:00 (1 April to 30 September) and 06:00 to 19:00 (1 October to 31 March).
To ensure a safe and joyful trip through our parks, kindly adhere to the Rules and Regulations as stipulated by South African National Parks.
The use of drones inside (and over) our national parks is strictly prohibited.
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Booking for accommodation is essential. Day visitors can just arrive on the day.
People with Disabilities Wheelchair Access An in-depth accessibility profile for Karoo National Park has been compiled. View the accessibility features overview for the Karoo National Park, as featured in the Rolling Inspiration magazine. Please see additional information on Wheelchair Accessibility Accommodation The rest camp has three units accessible to wheelchair users (two chalets with two beds and a sleeper couch in each and one family cottage with a queen bed and a single bed each in two bedrooms).
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During the late 1950s a local farmer and avid birder, William Quinton, campaigned for a conservation area in the Beaufort West vicinity.
However, it was only in the 1970s that South African National Parks (SANParks) proposed the establishment of a national park that would be representative of the Nama-Karoo biome. 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 SANParks. 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.
Main Rest Camp
- All accommodation is serviced daily and equipped with bedding and towels.
- Breakfast is included in the accommodation costs of these units.
- The Park boasts with eight Cape Dutch style family units. Each has two bedrooms (with a queen bed and a single bed in each), en suite bathrooms in both bedrooms (bath and shower), DSTV (limited channels), open plan lounge and a fully equipped kitchen (kettle, toaster, stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator, cutlery and crockery). One unit has been adapted for persons with limited mobility and contains a bath only.
- There are 19 Cape Dutch style chalets. Each unit consists of an open-plan area with two single beds, a double sleeper couch and kitchenette with basic equipment. There are a shower and bath in the bathroom. All units have DSTV now with limited channels –Hotel package Two units have been adapted for persons with limited mobility and these contain showers only.
- There are a further 10 Cape Dutch style cottages. There is a double bed in the bedroom, a bathroom with a shower, an open plan kitchen (microwave and a three-plate hob) and a lounge with DSTV (limited channels).
- Camping enthusiasts will delight in one of 24 award-winning camping and caravan sites in the rugged Karoo environment. Communal ablutions (showers and baths) and kitchen facilities with stove plates and a scullery are available.
- All sites are equipped with 220V power points.
- Capacity: a maximum of six people with one caravan with a side tent and one vehicle, or one tent and one vehicle, or one autovilla or one motorized caravan will be permitted per site.
- A laundry with a washing machine and tumble drier, for use with R15 tokens available at Reception, is also available in the campsite.
The Afsaal Cottage is an old Shepherds hut which has been upgraded into a one-of-a-kind, rustic accommodation offering inside the Park’s game viewing area. It is situated along the Nuweveld 4×4 trail, approximately 35km from the main rest camp. Is it only accessible to 4×4 and high-clearance (except in rain conditions)?
The unit can accommodate two adults and two children. It is equipped with an energy-efficient solar power system for lighting, a gas burner for food preparation, as well as a 90-liter solar-powered fridge/freezer. Two outdoor braai areas are also available. No firewood is provided. A double bed and two stretchers (only suitable for two children), all with additional bedding, is provided inside the unit. A shower with a gas geyser ensures that there is always hot water available. The unit is also equipped with a washbasin on the outside. There is a lit waterhole in the front of the unit, providing 24-hour game viewing from the comfort of an elevated deck.
Staying over at Afsaal Cottage allows visitors an early start into the game viewing area and the possibility to see the more elusive game species. Normal gate hours are applicable to Afsaal and park management depends on the honesty and integrity of visitors to abide by the gate and park rules. Visitors should also note that there is no cellphone reception at the cottage. The unit is not serviced daily but only cleaned after departure and before arrival.
The Embezweni Cottage which can sleep up to seven people has situated 45 km from the main rest camp, along with the Nuweveld 4×4 trail. It is self-catering and is solar and gas operated. A refrigerator with a freezing compartment and a gas stove are available in the kitchen and hot water is supplied from a gas geyser. The house consists of two bedrooms – one bedroom with a double bed and the other with a double bed and single sleeper couch. Another double bunk bed is provided in the lounge. The house also offers a bathroom (bath and shower) and lounge/living area with a lovely verandah with a built-in braai, which overlooks a waterhole.
Staying over at Embizweni Cottage allows visitors an early start into the game viewing area and the possibility to see the more elusive game species. Normal gate hours are applicable to Embizweni and park management depends on the honesty and integrity of visitors to abide by the gate and park rules. Visitors should also note that there is no cellphone reception at the cottage. The unit is not serviced daily but only cleaned after departure and before arrival.
Activities & Facilities
Embark on self-drive game viewing in the comfort of your own vehicle along the Park’s 60 km of tourist roads. Most of these are easily accessible to most vehicles – other than the 4×4 trails.
Take a scenic drive along the picturesque Klipspringer Pass with its environmentally friendly style of construction and the scenic lookout point at Rooivalle:
There are four 4×4 trails for offroad enthusiasts to take advantage of, at no extra cost:
- The Nuweveld (90km) and Afsaal (13km) trails enable visitors to explore and experience the remoteness of the Park. They divert off the Potlekkertjie Loop towards the west and takes a circular route back to the rest camp. The entire route from the rest camp (via the Potlekkertjie route) to the Embizweni Cottage and back is approximately 91km (of which approximately 55km is on 4×4 tracks).
Guests can do this trail in one day or decide to make use of the Embizweni Cottage. Day visitors should start the trail by no later than 11:00 in the morning and overnight Embizweni visitors not later than 14:00. This is to enable visitors to reach their destinations safely and before dark in the event of any unplanned occurrences such as flat tyres, rain, etc. The area through which the route traverses is very remote and harsh with very limited cellphone reception along the way.
The Nuweveld mountain range is in full view during the drive and the scenery of the mountains and from Embizweni is spectacular. Herds of gemsbok, mountain zebra, kudu, red hartebeest, and many other animals may be seen along the way. For birding enthusiasts, look out for kori bustards, Verreaux’s eagle, Karoo Korhaan, chanting goshawk, and martial eagles.
- The Kookfontein Loop and Sandrivier Loop – both 7km – branch of the Nuweveld and Afsaal Loops respectively, providing varied 4×4 route options.
- Klipplaatsfontein is a route that was established and connects to the Nuweveld route. It requires a free permit in order to monitor access.
- The Pienaars Pass was the first 4×4 route of its kind in SANParks and took ten years to complete. This 6km route takes visitors to the middle plateau of the Park. This route, while spectacular, is challenging and not for beginners. It is accessible after checking in at Reception and a paying an R280 fee per vehicle.
Walks are led by a qualified guide who introduces participants to the fascinating Karoo ecosystems. They depart from Reception at 06:00 during summer and 07:00 during winter.
Cost: R233 per person, to be booked at Reception BEFORE 19:00 the day prior to the intended hike, to ensure the availability of a guide.
The Park’s drives are led by knowledgeable guides. Departure times are to be confirmed at Reception. Drives are for a minimum of four and a maximum of nine guests. Children must be six years or older to participate.
This 400m long trail depicts the geology and paleontology of the great karoo by making use of genuine fossils and petrified wood on display along the paved walkway, which is accessible to wheelchair users.
The 2.7km looped track inside the 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.
A bird hide is on the left as one enters the rest camp.
The Bulkraal picnic site boasts with a sparkling swimming pool, lush green grass, ablution and braai facilities.
The Doornhoek picnic site, situated inside the game area, is the perfect place to stop while on a self-drive through the game viewing area.