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The Karoo is Calling - A Motorcycle Tour with a Difference...

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

The SA Adventure KAROO IS CALLING MOTORCYCLE TOUR is an epic experience! The route through the Karoo is non-technical and is perfect for novice riders looking to build their off-road riding skills, and is also suited for more advanced riders who just want to feel the magic of the Karoo and relax for a few days.

The idea behind the tour is to re-discover the magic of South Africa after our long lockdown, bringing much-needed cash flow to the small lodges and businesses we'll be utilising on our adventure. There are some beautiful off-road sections. Support and expert advice will be given to inexperienced off-road riders by our SA Adventure tour crew.

We can hardly contain our excitement for this tour, so we've decided to share the full itinerary with you!

SA Adventure Karoo motorcycle tours

5 Day Guided Adventure Motorcycle Tour

- All lodge accommodation.

- Dinner and breakfast included.

- Sweep rider, medic, support truck and trailer on the tour.

- Pillions and luggage are welcome to ride along in the support truck.


R 9 950 pps, single supplement available @ R 1 800

Tour Dates:

11 - 15 February 2022

16 of 16 places available

27 April - 1 May 2022

16 of 16 places available

Motorcycle tour difficulty grading system

This motorcycle tour has a Grade 2 rating.

Please see our ride grading system HERE.

Our Meeting Day...

Today your adventure begins! We’ll meet up at our lodgings for the evening, Kuilfontein Stables, anytime from 3 pm onwards. At Kuilfontein the elegant old stable quarters have been converted into inviting cottages, each exuding a style and comfort of its own. Crisp, white cotton percale linen, mohair blankets, and feather pillows create rooms that are luxurious, while the family antiques that decorate them add character. The white gabled stables were formerly used for racehorses.

Kuilfontein was originally built in 1818. It was a simple platdak house with skins over the doors and windows (this is before the 1820 Settlers and the Great Trek of 1836). In 1828 the owner, Mr G du Toit, during a serious drought trekked his stock to better grazing and on his return was severely mauled by a lioness, which had cubs in the present sitting room and considered the house hers!

We’ll meet up in the outside bar area in the afternoon to introduce the SA Adventure team and grab a drink. We will have a short tour briefing and will be hosting a little GPS training workshop as a bonus for you, and explain how we utilise these amazing bits of kit to enhance your journey over the next couple of days. If you have a Garmin GPS please bring it along so that we can program the routes of the tour into it for you. After the GPS workshop, we have dinner and get to know each other a little better. A great time to ask any questions you may have about the adventure we are about to undertake!

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins... Kuilfontein to Nieu Bethesda

Today's breakfast will be from 7 am, and afterwards, we will meet at the motorcycles and have a quick basic off-road riding skills lesson before we leave the lodge and start heading for Nieu Bethesda. The off-road riding today is on good gravel roads as well as on tar, there may be some short gravely sections and even some water around! Part of the adventure today takes us on a mission to find a hospital. Not a modern one like you may expect, but rather a memorial to the past history of the Karoo. Legend says the remains of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital stands in Deelfontein. Does it exist or not? We’ll find out…

We’ll take some time to explore and then head to The Vetmuis Kombuis in Richmond for lunch. Following our interesting morning chasing the ghosts of the past, we head off to the fantastical town of Nieu Bethesda, where we will spend the next two nights.

Nieu Bethesda is situated on the farm, Uitkyk, which belonged to BJ Pienaar. There was a very strong water supply on the farm and Pienaar changed the course of the Gats River to drain the vlei's (marshes) and turn the area into fertile lands, where Nieu Bethesda stands today. On 15 December 1874, the farmers of this area met for the first time with a view to establishing a village and Dutch Reformed Church congregation. A town council was elected. In February 1875, a petition group of 169 men met the church council of Graaff-Reinet, headed by the Reverend Charles Murray, son of the first preacher Andrew Murray. On the same day, negotiations were concluded to buy Uitkyk from Pienaar's sons. It was not until 1878 that Graaff-Reinet agreed to the petitions of the Nieu-Bethesda people. Rev. Charles Murray named the new settlement Nieu- Bethesda in reference to the strong fountain and its biblical reference from Nazareth.

We will hand everyone their own map of the town, indicating the various guest houses where we will all be staying, as well as the restaurants where we will be enjoying our breakfasts and dinners.

Dinner tonight will be at the Trip Adviser award-winning Nieu Karoo Country Restaurant. André, who started and owns the restaurant, used to be an Architect, but has now exchanged the life of construction for a calmer village experience! We will have a choice of wood-fired pizza or scrumptious pasta for dinner.

Most of the inhabitants of Nieu Bethesda are people who’ve given up their busy city lives for a slower Karoo existence, so they’ve only been living in town for a few years, but Idil, who runs the Village Inn restaurant has visited the town for 30 years, and 20 years ago started the first restaurant in town. Tonight she will share her wisdom and stories with us. A school teacher in her previous life, we are sure in for a treat!

Day 2: Nieu-Bethesda and Afternoon Off-Road Tour

“Learn to be quiet enough to hear the genuine sound within yourself, so you can hear it in others” Marian Wright Edelman

Today we are going to take it slow so that we can prepare ourselves for the messages the Karoo has for us. Our morning breakfast is at The Village Inn. This is the most authentic restaurant you will experience on tour. There is nothing fancy about this restaurant, but you will feel like you’ve been transported into a land where things have slowed down. You will hear the songs of a multitude of birds in this small little garden, and Idil, who you would have met last night, will prepare a very basic, yet hearty breakfast for us all. Try to experience something different. The quiet, the calm, the birds... This is where the Karoo will start to whisper to you. Listen...

After breakfast, we make our way as a group to the Owl House where you will experience the magical, yet peculiar world that the reclusive Helen Martins or Miss Helen has left behind for us. The Owl House will evoke different and strange feelings within you. See what comes up, experience it, and know that this is what real art is. The inner workings of a person’s psyche left in metaphor for us all to experience. The ticket to the Owl House & Museum is R50. If you would like to add the James Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre to your day, please just let your SA Adventure guide know when you buy your ticket to the Owl House, you will then pay R85.

After our visit to the Owl House, the day is yours to make of it what you will. Below are some ideas of what you could get up to before our afternoon off-road excursion around the Compassberg region at about 2 pm.

  • The James Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre with a guided walk to see fossils in the riverbed

  • Explore the Art Route

  • The awesome bookshop, Dustcovers

  • Relax with a beer and cheese tasting at Sneeuberg Brewery

  • Go on a donkey cart ride around the village

  • Explore the cemetery

  • Take a walk to the Water Mill and water furrows

  • Take a walk to the spring which gives the town its name

Following a day of absolute bliss in this wonderful town, it’s time to take our motorcycles for an off-road adventure towards the Compassberg. This is one of the most beautiful Karoo back roads you can ever imagine exploring, with beautiful flat-topped mesas, lots of riverbeds, a photo opportunity up close with one of the iconic Karoo windpumps and the peculiar pointed Compassberg. This is the berg you will have seen driving into Nieu Bethesda. We will all meet in front of the Nieu Karoo Restaurant where we will set off on this epic off-road afternoon adventure.

After we return from our exciting ride, dinner will be at the stunning restaurant at the Waenhuis, where Chris will prepare a mouth-watering Karoo lamb roast & chicken with veggies followed by a baked chocolate pudding with ice cream. For the vegetarians, don’t worry, Chris has something special in store for you!

Day 3: Nieu Bethesda to Graaff Reinet

This morning’s breakfast is at the Nieu Karoo Country Restaurant. We leave from here to start our glorious day. You can visit Ali at Die Winkel store to buy your drinks and snacks for our day’s journey before we leave. Please remember to support local! Saying goodbye to Nieu Bethesda is never easy. Take a last glance at this special place in the heart of the Karoo as you drive on the dirt roads that carry us away, and then get ready for the Karoo to reveal its primordial soul.

We head towards the old town of Graaff-Reinet and the Camdeboo National Park where we are going to share something incredible with you. The Valley of Desolation. If you haven’t been here before, we ask that you don’t Google it! Let it be a surprise! The awe and wonder of seeing this place for the first time should not be tainted. We will however give you a short description: Sheer cliffs and precariously balanced columns of Dolerite rise 120 metres from the valley floor, against the timeless backdrop of the vast plains of the Camdeboo. This is the product of volcanic and erosive forces of nature over 100 million years. Entry into the park is R48 per person by card, but if you have a Wild Card you can use that. There is a short walk up to the viewing point, but nothing too strenuous.

We will also be trying out a fun activity called Geocaching! For those of your who don’t know what a Geocache is, ask your SA Adventure guide, you’ll probably end up with a new hobby.

Following our visit to the Valley of Desolation, we continue on to Graaff-Reinet, where we make our way to an Agave farm to learn from Tim Moore all about the booming craft Tequila or Agave Spirit business here. We get to taste some of the finest Karoo Agave spirits at the farm before making our way to our stunning 5-star hotel for check-in and a high tea. If all goes well, we should arrive at around 4 pm. The rest of the day is yours to explore the town, or you can book a treatment at the hotel’s wonderful spa!

A little more about Graaff-Reinet: Graaff-Reinet is a town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It is the fourth-oldest town in South Africa, after Cape Town, Stellenbosch, and Swellendam. The town was the centre of a short-lived republic in the late 18th century. The town was a starting point for the Great Trek groups led by Gerrit Maritz and Piet Retief and furnished large numbers of the Voortrekkers in 1835–1842. Graaff-Reinet is home to more national monuments than any other town or city in South Africa. It is also known for being a flourishing market for agricultural produce, noted for its mohair industry, and sheep and ostrich farming.

Dinner will be at the hotel restaurant, but be sure to visit the Hotel’s drawing-room for some afternoon high tea, or drinks.

Day 4: Graaff Reinet to Gariep Dam

This morning breakfast will be in the luxurious restaurant at Drostdys. Today, our ride takes us past the Nqweba Dam and up the Ouberg Pass on the R63 until we turn off and get onto the gravel back roads of the Karoo once again. Look out for the Leopard tortoises!

On a farm close to Nieu Bethesda, nature and art blend together seamlessly where The Stone Folk of Ongeluksloot can be found set against the magnificent Karoo landscape. Life-sized rock sculptures, carefully placed in the landscape of Ongeluksloot on the farm Doornberg, appear to have sprung from the earth. Ryno Greeff, who is the importer of the Russain made URAL sidecar motorcycles created the sculptures from rocks in the area with masterful artistry and a deep sense of place. The Stone Folk were inspired by the landscape of Nieu Bethesda, the stone figures in Kaokoland in Namibia as well as The Dance outside Loxton by Marcella de Boom. There are ten stone sculptures with more to follow in time. Follow a circular footpath and the stone cairns to see if you can find all ten of the Stone Folk etched against the sky.

From here we ride towards Richmond in the Northern Cape and on to our lunch stop, the amazing Karoo Manor. They serve traditional Karoo cuisine in a fresh, modern setting and have a small book and gift shop too. The lamb and chicken pies are incredible.

After lunch, we take on a mission to find a hospital. Not a modern one like you may expect, but rather a memorial to the past history of the Karoo. Legend says the remains of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital stands in Deelfontein. Does it exist or not? We’ll find out...

A dry, desolate and dusty place, the white letters Imperial Yeomanry Hospital spread across 25 metres of the hillside at Deelfontein. The staff for the hospital were recruited in January 1900 and most of them sailed for South Africa from Southampton on the S S Norman on February 10, that year. The Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein was opened on 17 March 1900 and on 19 March 1900 the first train arrived with over a hundred patients on it, by the end of March 300 patients were being treated in prefabricated buildings and tents.

By the end of 1900 over 6000 patients had been through the facility. During the Anglo-Boer War the hospital was the largest surgical facility and convalescent hospital in the Colony, providing recuperative care to the soldiers. It was also the first military hospital to have an X-ray installation. Today Deelfontein consists of a few buildings clustered around the railway station and several more are scattered over the Karoo plain, some of the buildings or stone-lined pathways, which made up the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, are visible, and evidence that structures once stood there, are stone embankments, depressions and dilapidated mortar floors. Two cemeteries with over 134 graves tell the life stories of servicemen and medical personnel who gave their lives for what they believed in. The focal point of the cemeteries is a large monument that has the names of 8 men of the Yeomanry Hospital Staff inscribed on it. Of these 8 staff, 6 died of disease and were buried at Deelfontein.

Our lodge for the last night is at Gariep. Surrounded by the stark beauty of the Karoo, the Gariep Dam stretches for as far as the eye can see over the three provinces that meet here, the Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape. Jewelled sunsets blaze across the African sky and the sound of silence lulls you into a deep sleep under the Southern Cross.

Completed in 1971, it used to be called the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam. It’s the largest dam in South Africa. “!Gariep” is an ancient San word for “great water”. In the language, the exclamation mark represents the click made before the word is pronounced.

“At first encounter, the Karoo may seem arid, desolate and unforgiving, but to those who know it, it is a land of secret beauty and infinite variety.” ― Eve Palmer

Thank you for taking some time to read through the itinerary of this awesome adventure motorcycle tour, we hope that you are as excited about the Karoo and the small towns of our beautiful country, South Africa, as we are! We invite you to leave the city, slow down and join the SA Adventure team on our 2022 Karoo is Calling Off-Road Motorcycle Adventures...

Tour Dates:

11 - 15 February 2022

16 of 16 places available

27 April - 1 May 2022

16 of 16 places available

Please use the link below to confirm your spot...

SA Adventure Off-Road Tours and Training

SA Adventure offers a wide variety of exciting adventure motorcycle and 4x4 tours. All levels of riding and driving experience are welcome on our tours. We have something for everyone, from novice to advanced.

We have worked with and supported the likes of Charley Boorman, Billy Ward, Claudio Von Planta, Dylan Wickrama, Moto Aventures and Compass Expeditions.

We pride ourselves on safety and nothing is more important to us than your well being while on your off-road tour. We always have a full support truck and medic on every tour and you have the full support of our awesome backup crew.

If you want to go on your bucket list adventure of a lifetime, head over to our website using the link below. ⬇️

Please share with your friends and family on your social media channels, it really helps us!... Stay Safe, The SA Adventure Team!

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