Situated in Northeast of South Africa’s Western Cape Province, Karoo National Park is remarkably one of the most attractive safari destinations that you should consider a must to visit. It is located just outside the Beaufort west along the border area of the Northern Cape. Karoo National Park was established around 1979 but first originated as far as the 1950s when William Quinton was active in promoting conservation area in the Beaufort west area. It features several exceptional birdlife and mammal species especially buffaloes and black rhinos.
It is dominated by the Nuweland Mountain range and makes up the amphitheatre backdrop to the undulating plains which extend below it and makes the main portion of the protected area. It covers about 88000 hectares (750 square kilometers) and straddles within the center of the Great Karoo and features an extremely endowed fossil history. Most of the fossils are located in the sedimentary rocks of the Beaufort group which were initially laid down in 250000000 BP. Though no adequate research has been carried out within this area especially in the early inhabitants, it is believed that the San natives stayed around this protected area for a thousand years as well as the cattle herding Khoi-Khoi.
This park also boasts of its unique wildlife species most of which include lion, cheetah, leopard, wild dog, hyena, springbok, elands, greater kudu, grey rhebok, duikers, southern gemsbok (Oryx), bat eared foxes, black backed jackal, red hartebeest and cape mountain zebra, steenbok, baboons, vervet monkeys, about 59 distinct reptiles, six various tortoises and 35 lizard species. About 200 different bird species call this park their home and the notable ones include the verreaux’s eagles, 23 raptors which include the black harriers, rock kestrels, martial eagle, booted eagles, ostriches, Kori bustards, Ludwig’s bustards, Karoo Korhaans and many more.
This spectacular national park is located at altitude 850 meters in the lower side and the higher part is at 1300 meters. For visitors who wish to explore more about the park’s wildlife species, there are 2 major wildlife spotting drives which don’t need a 4 wheel drive car. The one in the east stands at Lammertjiesleegte plains of the lower Karoo, while the other is 49 kilometers long circular route to the west that ascends the Klipspringer crosses to the upper Karoo and then goes back to the plains at the doornhoek picnic site at the western extremity of the loop. You will then take the south easterly course across the plains to the starting point of the Klipspringer pass next to the camp site and chalets. At the top of the Klipspringer pass the Rooivalle view point offers the most spectacular panorama of the lower Karoo. The middle part of this protected area to west of Klipspringer pass circular route can easily be reached using a 4 wheel drive car and features expansive area with the best wildlife spotting sites. The vegetation comprises of dwarf xerophytic shrubs with some grasses. The shrubs and grass are deciduous.
What to do in Karoo National Park
Travelers on safari to this park get opportunity to enjoy a scenic self drive on the Klipspringer pass to the breathtaking viewpoint situated at Rooivalle. You can also take on one of the four 4 by 4 trails (Karoo Erdvark trail, Karoo Nuweveld 4by 4 trail) which you can explore at no extra charge and 90 kilometers Nuweveld trail leads you passed the Embizweni cottage where visitors spend a night. Guided day and night game drives are also conducted within the park, guided walks, birding, swimming, donkey cart tours, picnicking and many others.
Getting to Karoo National Park
If you are planning to pay a visit to this park, you can use the best vehicle that can make you navigate through the park smoothly. This park is situated about 500 kilometers away from Cape Town on the N1 national road and 1000 kilometers away from Johannesburg. The nearest town to this protected area is Beaufort west that is located about 12 kilometers away from the entrance gate next to the park’s easterly boundary. The nearest airport to this conservation area is George Domestic Airport and you can take a flight up to Cape Town International or Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport where you will take flight to George about 300 kilometers away from Karoo National Park. The internal road network include the 80 kilometers of gravel and tarred internal road network which travelers are free to discover and the 22 kilometer which require the a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
Where to stay at Karoo National Park
Karoo National Park features a number of accommodation facilities most of which range from six sleeper family cottages to 3 bedded chalets and caravan or campsite. This park features a campsite for caravans and tents, chalets, an a la carte restaurant, shop for basic necessities and curios and picnic sites.
Climate and weather of Karoo National Park
Rainfall in this park is usually experienced during summer time and reduces during winter and mostly experienced in the east of the protected area. Summer temperatures are too hot and range from 32 degrees Celsius and during winter, they reduce to 3.5 degrees Celsius.
In conclusion, Karoo National Park is endowed with wide range of wildlife and other attractions that are worth exploring while you are on safari in South Africa.