The Karoo National Park offers many activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Game viewing can be done in your own vehicle taking in the scenery along the Klipspringer Pass, Potlekkertjie Loop and Lammertijes Leegte. The Klipspringer Pass is 13kms and was built using the environmentally friendly “Andrew Bain” method of dry-masonry construction. The pass leads up to the middle plateau and provides an incredible viewpoint at Rooiwalle. Dassies (rock hyrax) can often be found on the rocks near the viewpoint, while the nest of a pair of black eagles, their main predators, can be seen on the cliffs.
The Potlekkertjie Loop at 45kms encompasses all the principle environments within the Park. Lammertjies Leegte is 11kms and runs along an ancient wagon route, providing an opportunity for some wildlife spotting on the lower plains.
The Karoo National Park offers morning and night-time game drives under the guidance of knowledgeable and friendly staff. Watch the sun settle on the mountains in spectacular style on the morning 2 to 3 hour drive. The night drive is done once the sun has completely set, making it dark enough for the powerful spotlights to become effective. Night drives provide excellent opportunities to see the nocturnal animals in their habitat, as well as spotting some of the larger mammal species. Chilly evenings see guests wrapped warm and cosy in blankets provided.
A bird hide is located on the left as one enters the rest camp, neatly hidden amongst reeds and trees offering great views over the landscape. The Park has over 200 species of magnificent birdlife, a paradise for keen birders. The Honorary Rangers host a birding weekend every October which is well supported by the community.
Pienaar’s Pass is the first 4x4 route of its kind for SANParks and took ten years to complete. This 6km route takes you to the middle plateau and will definitely enhance your visit to the Karoo National Park. The route however spectacular, is challenging and not for beginners, with a rate charged per vehicle.
The Nuweveld EcoTrail (90km) and the Afsaal EcoTrail (13km) are two 4x4 routes which branch of the Potlekkertjie Loop. The Kookfontein Loop (7km) and Sandrivier Loop (7km) then branch off the Nuweveld and Afsaal Loops respectively, providing excellent and varied 4x4 route options. As the longest 4x4 route, the Nuweveld EcoTrail has overnight facilities at both the Afsaal and Embizweni Cottages, however the route can also be undertaken in one day. This is not a very dicult or mountainous route however 4x4 is required at the river crossings and in sandy areas.
The Klipspringer Pass which forms part of the Karoo National Park was built according to an old environmentally friendly method, known as the Andrew Geddes Bain Method. The 7 800 cubic meters of stone used on the pass was collected from old sheep corals and shepherd’s huts. The 3.2 km pass was built by hand from the beginning of 1988 and was completed at the end of 1991.
Bain, a geologist and palaeontologist, was known as the “Prince of road workers” (Mitchells Pass 1843 and Bain's Kloof Pass 1849) due to his development and construction of this well-known method of building.
With the higher ecological impacts and development of erosion when using modernised methods in road building, it was decided at Karoo National Park to use this old method in the construction of the Klipspringer Pass. The gradient of the pass also played a role in the decision to use this particular method, which does not remove stones from the area and controls erosion, minimising soil disturbance. The road leads into a natural path and forms part of the beautiful landscape. To add to the beauty of the natural stone walls, the pass is convoluted and steep with stunning views over the Karoo landscape.
Pienaars Pass was built by Kowie Pienaar, a Stolzhoek farmer. Prior to the pass being built it took approximately three days for the farmer to get to his livestock in the mountains, and realizing there could be a better way he decided to build the pass for easier access. Kowie began building the pass in 1945 with the help of four workers and took approximately 10 years to complete, at a cost of around £ 2 500.
There were challenges during the build of the pass but Kowie and his workers persevered. At certain points dynamite had to be used to break through the rocks, and a whole section which took two years to build, was washed away by a flood in a matter of minutes. One of Kowie’s helpers, Pellie Benadie, recalls during one particularly hot summer how the heat was so incessant that the sun literally burnt a man’s shirt.
The pass has virtually remained the same over the years and now forms part of the 4x4 route - a great route for visitors to the Park to enjoy.