Category Archives: Karoo National Park

Summertide Diary: Departing the Karoo

18 December 2020

Sunrise over the Karoo

Today we have to leave the Karoo National Park to travel to our next destination, however there is still time for one last drive through Lammertjiesleegte before we go.

We were very lucky to encounter Black Rhinos during our visit to the Karoo National Park, but for their safety will not divulge when or where we saw them.

Black Rhino in the Karoo National Park

If you’d like to learn more about the Karoo National Park, have a read through this earlier post of ours detailing the natural and man-made features of the Park.

Map of the Karoo National Park showing Potlekkertjie Loop, Klipspringer Pass and Lammertjiesleegte, from the official guide book published by SANParks

Summertide Diary: Exploring the Karoo

17 December 2020

As the sun rise over the Great Karoo on the 17th of December we’re joined at the breakfast table by a very tame Cape Bunting hoping for a few crumbs.

Now that we are all wide awake and with full tummies thanks to our coffee and rusks, we set off on our morning drive, again taking the Klipspringer Pass and Potlekketjie Loop, but this time the other way around.

By the time we reach the Doornhoek Picnic Site all three of us are in need of a leg stretch.

The second leg of our morning drive delivers even more encounters with the wild inhabitants of the Karoo.

Back in camp by midday we explore as much of it as we can – from the interpretive centre and camping site at the one end to the swimming pool and bird hide at the other.

For our final afternoon drive of this visit to the Karoo National Park we opt for a leisurely amble through the Lammertjiesleegte; the open plains between the rest camp and the park’s eastern border which, despite its foreboding name (translated directly from Afrikaans it means “empty place of the lambs”, which sounds like a sequel to a horror movie), is actually a section of the park very rich in wildlife.

If you’d like to learn more about the Karoo National Park, have a read through this earlier post of ours detailing the natural and man-made features of the Park.

Map of the Karoo National Park showing Potlekkertjie Loop, Klipspringer Pass and Lammertjiesleegte, from the official guide book published by SANParks

Summertide Diary: Arriving in the Karoo

16 December 2020

From our home in Pretoria the shortest route to the Karoo National Park in the Western Cape Province is a distance of roughly 1000km, almost all of it along the N1 national highway. With Marilize still having to work the morning of the 15th of December, we opted to depart home by midday that Tuesday and break our journey at Bloemfontein, a historic city almost smack in the middle of our beautiful country.

We rise early on the 16th of December, a public holiday in South Africa, at the cosy A Little Guesthouse on the outskirts of Bloemfontein. The sun is just starting to peak over the eastern horizon as we tackle the final leg of our journey to the Karoo National Park. With Joubert’s grade 5 geography syllabus, freshly concluded, including a few South African landmarks, we take a detour to one of the them – the Gariep Dam, South Africa’s biggest man-made lake, located at the border between the Free State and Eastern Cape provinces.

The Gariep Dam

Just after midday we arrive at the entrance gate to the Karoo National Park, a most welcome sight after the long drive.

After quickly checking in, thoroughly sanitizing every corner of our accommodation unit (oh, the joys of travelling in the time of COVID-19, and yes the Park staff do sanitize the units before you arrive, we are just very cautious) and unpacking the luggage we waste no further time in starting our explorations of the vast national park. Our route of choice for the afternoon is the delectably-named Potlekkertjie-loop – this being the local name for a kind of lizard, translating into English as “little pot licker” – and ending with the Klipspringer Pass leading back to camp.

Arriving back at camp, we can relax on the stoep (verandah) of Chalet 28, reveling in the beautiful view and visits from a variety of creatures. The holiday we’ve been looking forward to for so long has finally arrived…

If you’d like to learn more about the Karoo National Park, have a read through this earlier post of ours detailing the natural and man-made features of the Park.

Map of the Karoo National Park showing Potlekkertjie Loop, Klipspringer Pass and Lammertjiesleegte, from the official guide book published by SANParks

Summertide Rambles 17 December 2020

The open landscapes of the Karoo National Park really shows off the wildlife that inhabit this arid environment to great effect – in this case a beautiful gemsbok that we saw this morning just after sunrise.

Summertide Rambles 16 December 2020

Our long awaited summer holidays have finally arrived, and we kick it off in the wide open spaces of the beautiful Karoo National Park – a little over 1,000km southwest of home.

 

Karoo National Park

The Great Karoo, which covers much of South Africa’s western and central interior, is an arid region, rich in drought resistant plant and animal life. Since being settled by European stock farmers in the early 1700’s, large game was systematically eradicated from the area; the last lions for instance disappearing from the region in the 1820’s. In what is today the Karoo National Park, visitors will notice the rock-traps built to catch predators like brown hyena and leopard, with an easily accessible example right inside the rest camp, between the camping area and chalets. The Park came about when, in the 1970’s, the National Parks Board (today SANParks) and interested NGO’s realised that there was very little of the Karoo being formally protected and started looking for a suitable area to be proclaimed a National Park. Eventually a site just outside the town of Beaufort-West was decided upon, and officially proclaimed the Karoo National Park, 17,706 hectares in extent, in September 1979.

The Karoo’s history goes back much further than that though. Around 255-million years ago, the area was lush and covered in swamps, and sediments laid down then are today a rich source of fossils. This fascinating world is made accessible to the park’s visitors along the short (400m), paved Fossil Trail near the reception complex.

Since its proclamation, additional land was acquired and incorporated, and today the Karoo National Park covers an extensive area of 88,133 hectares. The peaks of the Nuweveld Mountains rise to over 1,900m above sea level, though most of the plains lie at and average of 850m above sea level. This is a harsh environment, with an average annual rainfall of just over 200mm (most of which falls in summer), winter temperatures dropping as low as -15°C (with frost and snowfall a common occurence) and summer temperatures soaring to over 40°C. Most of the vegetation consists of hardy grasses and woody shrubs, with extensive stands of thorny trees along the dry river courses, and about 864 recorded plant species!

After it was proclaimed, several species of animals that occurred here naturally were reintroduced, the most notable of which are over 700 Cape Mountain Zebra, Buffalo, Black Rhino and Lion. Today, the Park protects 62 species of mammal, 63 reptile species (including 5 kinds of tortoise), 10 kinds of amphibians and even a single species of indigenous fish, the Chubbyhead Barb.

More than 200 bird species have been recorded inside the Karoo National Park, several of which are endemic to this arid landscape.

For birdwatchers especially, the birdhide situated on the edge of the camp overlooking a reed-fringed waterhole is a real boon.

Overnight visitors have a choice of camping and accommodation (with breakfast included) available in the award-winning rest camp, which was opened in 1989. The camp also has a restaurant and little shop, as well as a very popular swimming pool. Near the campsite an old barn has been converted into an information centre, with interesting displays on the history of the Karoo and the National Park that carries its name. Two picnic sites, at Bulkraal and Doornhoek, cater to the needs of day visitors. Afsaal and Embizweni are more rustic cottages located along the Park’s extensive network of 4×4 trails. Visitors with less rugged vehicles are able to drive in comfort along the delightfully named Potlekkertjie and Lammertjiesleegte Loops, and the spectacular Klipspringer Pass.

The Karoo National Park was the first destination of our recent December 2017 holidays. It is a drive of roughly 1,000 km from our home in Pretoria to the Park’s entrance gate, conveniently located along the N1 highway about 6km south of Beaufort-West. The nearest international airport is in Cape Town, about 500km to the southwest.

 

 

What a trip it’s been!

Happy New Year to all our friends here at de Wets Wild! We hope that 2018 has lots of opportunities to explore the outdoors, for you as well as for us!

We have just arrived back home safely after another epic summer holiday in South Africa’s wild places. All in all we were away from home for 24 nights and traveled a total of 5,550km, exploring eight of this beautiful country’s National Parks.

The route for our epic December 2017 holidays

Of course we came back with literally thousands of photos, which we’ll be sharing here in the coming weeks. We tried to post a daily update as we went along – here’s a quick recap.

Our 2017 in pictures

Looking back at the places we stayed at during another year of enjoying South Africa’s beautiful wild places.

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

Thank you very much for your support!

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Right where it belongs

The beautiful Gemsbok is just one of several antelope species that find sanctuary here at the Karoo National Park, and is one of the most frequently observed large mammals out on the reserve’s extensive network of drives.

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

Thank you very much for your support!

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Surrounded by great open spaces

We spent our day in awe of the Karoo’s rugged beauty 

 

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

Thank you very much for your support!

SA Blog Awards Badge