Experience the Northern Cape, South Africa

Ever yearned for a space so vast that the horizon continues into the future? Or to see the stars so clearly you feel that you touch them? The Karoo Highlands Route is where you can experience such uniqueness. The area is renowned for the hospitality of its farming community. 

Whether you’ll be admiring the inimitability of the corbelled houses or looking back in time at the Gansfontein Palaeo Surface, your heart will surely be touched by this region as never before.

The Karoo Highland Route is situated in the southern part of the Northern Cape in South Africa. The route covers the small Karoo towns of Nieuwoudtville, Calvinia, Williston, Sutherland, Fraserburg, Carnarvon, Loxton and Victoria West and forms the heart of the Great Karoo. The Karoo is the home of peace and tranquillity where you can recharge your batteries, while exploring the wide open plains dotted with koppies (hills). This is a place where a huge telescope allows you to look back to the beginnings of our universe 13-billion years, and where pre-dinosaurs roamed the Earth and the first people gazed up to the heavens.

People have lived on this massive plateau, the largest of its kind outside Asia, for about 500 000 years. The Khoi and San people who left their legacy as art on the rocks gave the Karoo its name. The place’s name comes from karusa, a Khoi word which means dry, barren, thirst land. This aptly describes this region where water is scarce. It is an ancient, fossil rich land, with some important archaeological sites, as well as the largest variety of succulents found anywhere on Earth: there are more than 9 000 plant species in the Great Karoo.

The route offers plenty of interesting attractions, such as Sutherland’s astronomical observatory, Carnarvon’s Karoo Array radio telescope, Karoo architecture and corbelled houses, Anglo-Boer War sites, rock art, ancient palaeo surfaces, farm stays and medicinal plants.

Download the Open Africa 'Cape of many Routes' write-up below