Road tripping in the Karoo

June 29, 2023

Everyone has to put a leisurely road trip across the Karoo on their list of things to do at least once. Cloudy sky, scenic vistas, and long, winding drives.

The Karoo is South Africa’s mystical desert, comparable to places like New Mexico, Australia, and Mongolia. South Africa’s soul spaces are its vast plains, which are flanked by distant flat-topped hills and mountains. Novelists, outsider artists, musicians, eccentrics, town champions, beer brewers, chefs, sculptors, internet geniuses, funky hoteliers, and a new breed of vibrant young farmers have all made these places their permanent home.

Exploring the Karoo region in South Africa offers a unique and diverse experience.

Here are some of the best spots to experience:

Karoo National Park:

This park offers stunning landscapes, wildlife viewing, and outdoor activities such as hiking and birdwatching. The park is home to a variety of animals, including black rhinos. Cape mountain zebras, and various bird species.

Valley of Desolation:

Located near Graaff-Reinet, the Valley of Desolation. Is a geological wonder with towering dolerite columns that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Karoo Eastern Cape


This small village is known for its artistic community. Historical buildings, and the Owl House, a folk-art environment created by Helen Martins..


Known for its clear skies and ideal stargazing conditions, Sutherland is home to the South African Astronomical Observatory and offers visitors the opportunity to explore the universe through guided tours and telescope viewings.

Road in town of stars blue sky sutherland 50 sign r354

Prince Albert:

A charming town nestled at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains, Prince Albert offers visitors a chance to explore its Victorian architecture, art galleries, and olive farms. The nearby Swartberg Pass provides stunning views and opportunities for hiking and mountain biking.

The Swartberg Mountains:

This mountain range offers spectacular scenery, rugged terrain, and outdoor activities such as hiking, 4×4 trails, and rock climbing. The Swartberg Pass is a scenic drive that winds through the mountains and offers breathtaking views

Karoo Fossil Route:

Explore the rich paleontological history of the Karoo region by following the Karoo Fossil Route, which includes museums, fossil sites, and guided tours where visitors can learn about the ancient creatures that once roamed the area.

These are just a few of the highlights of the Karoo region in South Africa. Whether you’re interested in nature, history, or outdoor adventure, the Karoo offers something for everyone to experience and enjoy.

The Karoo (a Bushman name meaning “dry place”) is a massive, ancient seafloor that runs through the country’s middle and is larger than Germany. More than a hundred towns, villages, townships, and railway sidings have popped up in the area during the previous two centuries, although the population has never exceeded one million.

These days, the Tankwa desert is alive with the rhythm of the AfrikaBurn Festival as revelers set the night ablaze with fire, loud music, and an abundance of artistic fervor.

Set aside as much time as possible, fill up the gas tank and start off on a dead-straight tarmac that might turn into a dirt road, complete with wine, meat on the coals and a sky full of stars when you’re ready to explore this area. It’s also the cheapest way to get to South Africa.

I’ve done this trip several times, and it never gets old.

Check out the rest of my photographs!


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