• Karoo road. Photo by Juanita Swart on Unsplash juanita-swart-SxI8zWKqlek-unsplash

Victoria West: day drives & night skies

My personal choice of places to go on the Karoo Highland Route

Karoo National Park. Photo by Captureson Photography on Unsplash captureson-photography-LTYtLZPSnUw-unsplash

Karoo National Park

The Karoo National Park welcomes day visitors throughout the year - so it’s a perfect focus for a day drive from Victoria West for guests who want to explore the real Karoo.

Attractions include self-drive game viewing, bird hides, picnic areas (with a swimming pool at the Bulkraal picnic site), 4X4 trails, guided drives, an interpretive centre (with a garden that’s great for birding), and a single-track route for MTBs and trail runners (details at sanparks.org)  

Wildlife includes tortoises, klipspringers, eland, and lion - and, in winter, breeding pairs of Verraux’s eagles (black eagles).

Gate hours: the main gate is open from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, while the game area gates are open from 7:00 to 6:00 from 1 April to 30 September, and 6:00 to 7:00 from 1 October to 31 March.

Directions: The Karoo National Park is situated about 140 km from Victoria West: travel south on the N12, turn right onto the N1 at Three Sisters, and follow the N1 through Beaufort West.  The Park is on your right, about 4 km outside of town. 

MTB mountain biking in the Karoo. Photo by Juanita Swart on Unsplash juanita-swart-jAINEM1eLkc-unsplash

Meltonwold Guest Farm

Day visitors are welcome at Meltonwold - the oldest guest farm in South Africa!

Established in 1935, Meltonwold offers mountain biking (on your own bikes), game drives (Mondays to Saturdays), birding, walks, and a swimming pool, tennis court, bowling green, and trampoline - and much, much more.

Directions: Follow the R63 westwards from Victoria West, and turn left to Meltonwold after about 40 km.

Photo by Neal Markham on Unsplash - neal-markham-sB1Npr3L-gU-unsplash.jpg


Stargazing is one of the best things about the Karoo: with very little light pollution in towns like Victoria West - and none at all a few kilometres into the countryside around us - this is any astronomer’s paradise: whether you’re a professional, an amateur, or just a keen observer. 

In fact, conditions in the Karoo are so ideal that they’ve attracted scientists from around the world: at places like Sutherland (home of the Southern African Large Telescope - SALT), and on projects like MeerKAT (originally the Karoo Array Telescope), which forms part of the first phase of the African contribution to the international Square Kilometre Array, or SKA, radio telescope.

But the clear skies of the Karoo are a deeply spiritual realm, too, especially for people like the /Xam Bushmen, who lived their traditional way of life for tens of thousands of years throughout most of the land we now know as South Africa. 

While we haven’t yet developed any organised stargazing experiences here in Victoria West, we encourage you to get outside at night, spread a blanket on the earth, and just look up.

You can’t help but be amazed.

  • Please ask me (Caro) for advice about stargazing while you’re here.

Nelspoort rock art and rock gongs

An incredible and ancient outdoor rock art site just 80 km from Victoria West

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Loxton's Riverine Rabbit Thinking Path

Visit the village of Loxton for its tree-lined streets (white with pear blossoms in spring!), for its many examples of vernacular Karoo architecture (including a number of historic, beehive-like, corbelled houses) - and for its newest attraction: the Riverine Rabbit Thinking Path.

This geoglyph (a large design or motif etched onto the ground in permanent, natural materials - in this case, in rock) takes the shape of a mythical beast that’s half riverine rabbit and half black-backed jackal, which are by turns critically endangered, and persecuted residents of the area.

Take a mindful, half hour (or longer!) walk along the 1,097 metre path described by the trail, and you’ll find yourself at the interface between art, culture, and nature. 

In the Karoo, that’s a fine place to be. 

Directions: Follow the R63 westwards from Victoria West. You’ll find the Riverine Rabbit Thinking Path on your left at the entrance to the village of Loxton (about 80 km - 50 minutes).