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Springbok: Karoo National Park

Photo Credit: Coda (flickr)

Cape Mountain Zebra

Karoo National Park

Karoo Landscape

Photo Credit: DanieVDM (flickr)

Gymnogene (African Harrier Hawk)

The Karoo National Park has many raptors, including the Gymnogene

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Karoo National Park Highlights:

  • See the Cape Mountain Zebra a much less common species of Zebra that was almost extinct in the 20th Century
  • The Springbok Antelope are also common in the Karoo National Park and is the emblem of the park as well as the famous South African Springbok rugby team.
  • One of the highest densities anywhere in Africa of the impressive Black Eagle (Verreaux's Eagle)
  • Five different species of Tortoises, with the highest density of species per equivalent area anywhere in the world

 

Introduction

Not far from the town of Beaufort West on the border between the Western Cape and the Northern Cape in South Africa sits the Karoo National Park. The original park with an area of only 72kilometers square was donated to SANParks in 1979 by the Beaufort town council. This original park now forms the nucleus of what is now a much bigger Karoo National Park covering an area of 800 square Kilometers (295 sq miles)

Visiting the Karoo National park will leave you with a lasting impression of a sense of space, all around you there are miles and miles of wide open spaces extending in every direction of this unique Karoo habitat.

There are two routes within the Karoo NP that can be undertaken using a normal vehicle. The drive up to the Mountain View self-catering chalets is well worth it, as is a drive around the Lammertjiesleegte rout that will take you across the plains and usually offers excellent game viewing opportunities. Apart from these routes, there are a number that are suitable only in a 4x4 vehicle that you can either take in your own vehicle, or in a vehicle with a safari guide.

Unique Wildlife

Because of the unique habitat of the Karoo there are many animals and birds that are either not found anywhere else, or are rarely seen and so the Karoo National Park is an excellent reserve to visit if you are looking to find different species of animals. These include the Cape Mountain Zebra and the Black Wildebeest as well as many birds that are only found in this area.

Reptile's Galore
Karoo National Park also has a huge variety of reptiles and in particular significance are the 5 species of tortoise as well as species of terrapin, agama, 2 types of chameleons, a monitor, 18 snakes and several geckos, skinks and lizards!

 

 

The Quagga

What is exclusive to the Karoo National Park is their Quagga breeding program. These animals became extinct in 1883 due to over hunting as well as farming. Reinhold Rau, believes that the Quagga was actually a subspecies of the Burchell's Zebra and has made it his life's work to try and breed them back into existence. The Quagga was different to the Zebra in that it had a brown coloration as well as no stripes across it's back body area, rump and legs, whilst had brown and white stripes across it's face, neck and shoulders.

In 1996 some plains Zebra with stripe markings resembling the Quagga were donated to the breeding program by the Namibian National Parks Board and they have been selectively breeding them since then to try and “breed” the Quagga back into existence. In 2005 a foal was born with all the characteristics of the original Quagga, apart from some stripes across the middle joint of it's hind legs.

Animals at the Karoo National Park

  • Black Rhino
  • Cape Mountain Zebra
  • Burchell's Zebra
  • Black Wildebeest
  • Red Hartebeest
  • Eland
  • Kudu
  • Springbok
  • Gemsbok

Birds found in the Karoo National Park

The Karoo National Park is one of the best birding spots in the Karoo. It has a bird list of 204 species including many Karoo specials, a wide range of habitats and beautiful scenery. Karoo National Park specials include Ludwig's Bustard, Karoo Korhaan, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Verreaux's Eagle, Black Stork, Booted Eagle (summer), Common Swift (summer), Tractrac Chat, Sickle-winged Chat, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Layard's Titbabbler, Karoo Eremomela, Rufous-eared Warbler, Chat Flycatcher, African Rock Pipit.

  • Karoo Eremomola
  • Yellow-bellied Eremomola
  • Karoo Korhaan
  • Namaqua Warbler
  • Karoo Scrub Robin

Raptors

  • Verreaux's Eagle (Black Eagle)
  • Booted Eagle
  • Gymnogene (African Harrier Hawk)
  • Steppe Buzzard
  • Rock Kestrel

Accommodation at the Karoo National Park

The Main Rest Camp

Two Bedroom Cottages
Seven two bedroom Cape Dutch style cottages that can accommodate up to 6 people. The cottages have fully equipped kitchens Each bedroom has an en suite bathroom with both a bath and shower.

One Bedroom Cottages - 2 beds
Nineteen one bedroom Cape Dutch style cottages (2 single beds and a double sleeper couch). Each cottage comes with a bathroom (shower and bath), and a kitchenette with basic equipment.

Two of these cottages have been adapted for persons with limited mobility and these contain showers only.

One Bedroom Cottages - 1 double bed
Ten Cape Dutch style cottages with one bedroom (double bed) open plan kitchen (microwave and stove) and lounge, bathroom (shower).

All accommodation at the Karoo national park is serviced daily and equipped with bedding, towels and soap. Breakfast is also included in the accommodation costs (not including camp sites).

Camping

There are 24 camping and caravan campsites in the Karoo National park, that come with communal kitchen, shower and toilet facilities and 220V power points. Laundry with a washing machine and tumble drier is available.


How to find the Karoo National Park

Most of the visitors to Karoo National Park arrive by vehicle as this allows them the freedom to explore the park at their own leisure.

The Park is a convenient stopover on the N1 route between Cape Town and the interior of South Africa.

The rest camp of the Karoo National Park is 12 km from the town of Beaufort West in the Western Cape, off the N1 highway.

Cape Town is around 500km south of the Park and Johannesburg is about 1000km north of the Park.

The Karoo National Park is also not far from the Mountain Zebra National Park and is also well worth visiting.

Map of the Karoo National Park in South Africa

Below is a map showing the location of the Karoo NP as well as other points of interest in the area.


Car Hire in South Africa

If you are arriving in South Africa from overseas, there are car hire facilities in most of the major cities in South Africa, or take a look at the Safari Holiday Guide Car Hire page, to book a car online.


 

Best time to Visit the Karoo National Park

The summers can get extremely hot in the Karoo and the winters freezing cold, even with snow on the nuweveld mountain peaks. I would say that best months to visit would be between March to October.


Contact Details

Karoo National Park
reservations@sanparks.org
www.sanparks.org/parks/karoo
Tel: +27(0)23-4152828/9

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