Thu, 21 Mar|
The Karoo to Coast 4x4 Off-Road Adventure
Highlights of the tour include breathtaking Karoo landscapes, stargazing in Sutherland, thrilling gravel road routes, experiencing the rich flora of Namaqualand, lunch at the Tankwa Padstal, traversing the Botterkloof and Ouberg Passes and travelling through the Tankwa Karoo...
Time & Location
21 Mar 2024, 16:00 – 26 Mar 2024, 09:00
Cradock, Cradock, 5880, South Africa
About the event
Olive Schreiner wrote that the Karoo makes one realise “many so-called important things are really insignificant, yet so many insignificant things are important.”
The dusty solitude of the Karoo holds a unique allure, especially when contrasted with the chaos of cramped big cities and starless nights. The Karoo, a vast semi-desert region in South Africa, offers a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of urban life. In the Karoo, the vastness of the landscape stretches out before you, seemingly endless. The arid plains are dotted with sparse vegetation, beautiful flowers and rocky outcrops, creating a sense of isolation and tranquillity.
The silence is deafening, broken only by the occasional howl of the wind or the distant call of a bird. The open spaces and wide horizons provide a sense of perspective, reminding us of our place in the grand scheme of things. The Karoo's vastness allows the mind to wander, to reflect, and find solace in the simplicity of the natural world.
Schreiner was a South African author, anti-war campaigner and intellectual. She is best remembered for her novel The Story of an African Farm, written in 1883, it has been highly acclaimed. She was asthmatic and the dry Karoo climate suited her health. As a Karoo nomad, she embraced a life of constant movement, living in, and exploring the small towns that dotted the Karoo landscape. These towns, seemingly untouched by time, held a unique charm that captivated her. Schreiner lived in a town nestled in the heart of the Karoo called Cradock on three occasions, and this is where she completed her famous novel The Story of an African Farm.
Cradock is where our off-road adventure begins. With its rich history and rugged landscapes, it serves as the perfect starting point for our journey into the Karoo…
Our off-road vehicles rumble to life, ready to conquer the rugged terrain that lies ahead. As we set off from Cradock, the anticipation builds, knowing that we are about to immerse ourselves in the untamed beauty of the Karoo.
On this off-road adventure, we will visit and stay over in some of the most incredible places. As dust swirls in our wake, we venture deeper into the untamed Karoo wilderness travelling towards Loxton in the Northern Cape province. Loxton is one of the major wool-producing Karoo towns and is in one of the largest garlic-producing areas in South Africa. Loxton was originally a farm called Phizantefontein, which was owned by A.E. Loxton, whom the town is now named after.
The Karoo's star-filled nights offer a stark contrast to the starless skies of the city. With minimal light pollution, the Karoo's night sky becomes a canvas adorned with countless twinkling stars. The beauty and majesty of the Milky Way stretch across the black canvas, reminding us of the immensity of the universe and our own insignificance in comparison. We spend the third night of the tour in Sutherland. It’s known for its extremely cold winters and clear skies, making it a popular destination for stargazing and astronomy enthusiasts. Sutherland is home to the South African Astronomical Observatory, which operates the largest single optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.
Next, the adventure takes us through the Tankwa. Tankwa is a region of the Karoo in the Northern Cape, known for its arid landscapes and stunning natural beauty. The Tankwa Padstal is a popular stop for travellers passing through the area. It is a roadside farm stall that offers refreshments, meals, and local products. We’ll be having lunch here and while there are no actual claims of extra-terrestrial beings in the Karoo, you might just be able to capture a snapshot of a UFO and its passengers that crash-landed on a nearby rocky hill... It’s on to Calvina for the night, a small town located in the Hantam region of the Great Karoo. It is known for its charming Victorian architecture and is home to the Calvinia Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the area. To reach Calvinia, we travel along the longest continuous gravel road in South Africa, which offers a unique and adventurous off-road experience.
From Calvina we venture to Clanwilliam via Loeriesfontein which is situated in an area of the Karoo known as Namaqualand. The Windpump Museum situated on the grounds of the Fred Turner Museum is Loeriesfontein’s largest tourism attraction and features a collection of 27 working windpumps. Windpumps are still used today to pump life-giving water in the Karoo. Wandering around the display of windpumps one is struck by their intricate construction and the size of the individual blades designed to catch even the lightest of breezes. Leaving Loeriesfontein we travel the gravel roads of Namaqualand. Namaqualand is famous for its annual spring flower spectacle, where the arid landscapes burst into vibrant colours as countless Namaqualand daisies bloom. The Botterkloof Pass is a scenic route that connects the Northern and Western Cape provinces, offering breathtaking views along the way it leads us to our stop for the evening, Clanwilliam. It’s a picturesque town with a rich history. It is home to the Clanwilliam Museum, which showcases the town's heritage, including its colonial past and indigenous culture. The town is also a gateway to the Cederberg Wilderness Area, a rugged mountain range known for its rock formations, hiking trails, and ancient San rock art.
After spending the evening in Clanwilliam, the following day you can embark on an optional exploration of the Cederberg Mountains and the nearby village of Wupperthal. Wupperthal is a quaint mission village known for its historical buildings and traditional way of life. One of the main attractions in Wupperthal is the Wupperthal Mission Station, which dates back to 1830. The Cederberg Mountains are known for their dramatic rock formations, hiking trails, and rich biodiversity. Driving through winding mountain roads, taking in the stunning views of the rugged landscape. Along the way, you might spot unique rock formations like the Wolfberg Arch or the Maltese Cross. For lunch, we make a stop at the famous Cederberg Oasis, a charming restaurant and farm stall located in the heart of the Cederberg region. The Cederberg Oasis offers a variety of delicious meals, including traditional South African dishes and homemade treats. You can enjoy your lunch while taking in the beautiful surroundings and perhaps even spot some wildlife that might wander by. We continue our exploration of the Cederberg Mountains on the way back to Clanwilliam. Today you’ll have experienced the natural beauty and cultural heritage of this unique region in South Africa.
On the last day of our adventure, we embark on a scenic off-road drive from Clanwilliam to Paternoster. The journey takes us through the rugged and beautiful Truitjieskraal Nature Reserve, renowned for its unique rock formations. We follow the gravel routes until we reach the Travellers Cave, a natural cave that served as a shelter for early settlers. We take some time to explore the cave and marvel at the stunning scenery surrounding it. As we continue our drive, we pass through the Banghoek Nature Reserve, a picturesque wilderness area known for its rich biodiversity. The reserve is home to a wide range of plant and animal species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. Enjoy the diverse flora and fauna as we make our way towards Paternoster, the final stop on our off-road adventure. Upon arrival in Paternoster, a charming west coast fishing village, we head straight to the beach for a lunch of fresh, local Fish and Chips. Paternoster is famous for its pristine beaches, white-washed cottages, and mouthwatering seafood. After our delicious meal, spend the rest of the day unwinding on the beach, soaking up the sun, and taking in the tranquil atmosphere. For those interested in art and culture, Paternoster is home to various art galleries and shops. Take the opportunity to explore these establishments, browsing through unique artwork and locally crafted souvenirs. As the day draws to a close, we gather for our final dinner at one of the village's renowned seafood restaurants.
The dusty solitude of the Karoo can offer a mental escape from the constraints of urban life. It serves as a reminder that there are places where we can find solace, clarity, and a renewed sense of perspective. It reminds us that there is a world beyond the cramped confines of the city, a world of vast open spaces, starry nights, and a sense of solitude that allows us to reconnect with ourselves, the natural world and the Universe…