Nieu Bethesda Valley

Karoo Heartland

Discover the ‘dry heart’ of South Africa. Famous for its intense climate with low rainfall, arid air, cloudless skies and extremes of heat and cold, the Karoo Heartland offers visitors an eco-tourism destination with overwhelming scenery, incredible fauna and flora, culture and history.

Did you know? The Karoo, a semi desert, spans more than 400 000 square kilometres and spreads over all three Cape provinces.

Aloes, windmills, scant vegetation, sheep and red dust paint the picture of the Karoo. The beauty is dominated by limitless, flat plateaus, rocky mountains and an incredible variety of succulents.

The Karoo is made of small villages and greater towns such as Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Somerset East, Aberdeen and Nieu-Bethesda. Reflecting true country lifestyle, the Karoo cuisine is just as famous as the scenery.

The plentiful Karoo game includes ostriches, springboks, storks and zebras and leaves nature lovers in awe.

Reflecting the Karoo spirit, artists and other creative souls enjoy the country lifestyle and offer a variety of galleries, guesthouses and restaurants to welcome visitors.

At night, just sit back, relax and enjoy the sunset and stars that will leave you speechless.

Get the Karoo idea by visiting this site


Highlights to discover

Owl House

The Owl House, located in Nieu- Bethesda, shows the work of artist Helen Martins. Inspired by curiosity, excitement and sadness, Helen’s sculptures are made from concrete and ground glass and leave no visitor untouched with emotion.

Having lived a troubled and challenging life, the sensible Helen Martin dedicated the second half of her live to the transformation of an ordinary Karoo home to a place of light and colour with a fantasy garden full of sculptures.

The circumstances and reasons are mysterious, but Helen Martin ended her life before she turned 79. Nevertheless, she leaves a powerful vision of her world behind that is open to the public.

For visitor information on the Owl House, click here

Mountain Zebra National Park

Three reasons to visit Mountain Zebra National Park

  • 28 000 hectares of wildlife
  • Game includes Cape mountain zebras, aardwolf, cape buffalo, cheetah, blue crane, black rhino and denham’s bustard
  • It is malaria-free

For further reading visit

Wild Fly fishing (Somerset East)

Did you know? A 6.48kg rainbow trout hen was caught in the river in 2014.

Sounds incredible? All the more reason to visit the Karoo’s ideal fly-fishing spots in Somerset East.

Find everything you need to know about your fly fishing trip in the Karoo here

Karoo farm stay experience at Ganora Guest Farm, Rock Art and Fossil Tours

Rock engravings, also called petroglyphs are famous in the Karoo. You will find images of large wild animals and abstract geometrical shapes etched and pecked out by the old San and Khoikhoi cultures.

The James Kitching Fossil Centre tells the story of the Karoo life 250 million year ago. Join a guided tour to the nearby fossil-bearing rocks in Nieu-Bethseda.

For the true South African farm experience, the Ganora Guest Farm also surfaces the history of the Karoo. Situated just outside Nieu Bethesda, the sheep farm is surrounded by rock formations and rich fossil beds.

The original farmstead and outbuildings were built in the mid 1700’s and have been converted into three star guest accommodations. Some of the guest cottages even have the stone packed ‘kraal’ wall in their interior to reminding visitors of its historic past.

The museum and game rehabilitation programme adds to the offerings of the guest farm.

Last but not least, the famous Karoo cuisine is celebrated at the guest farm. Good company, much laughter, stories and delicious South African country cuisine make every meal an occasion.

For more information and to book visit

Valley of Desolation (Camdeboo National Park)

Don’t leave the Karoo without visiting the ‘Cathedral of the Mountains’ in the Camdeboo National Park. The Valley of Desolation is a geological phenomenon – a unique Karoo landscape and ecosystem that surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet, creating a type of oasis in the midst of the aridness of the Karoo.

Top Five things to see in the Camdeboo National Park:

  • Valley of Desolation
  • Nqweba Dam
  • Bird hide
  • Cape Buffalo
  • Bat-eared fox


Screen width: