KAROO NATIONAL PARK SOUTH AFRICA
The Karoo National Park was established in the year 1979 and stands as a wildlife reserve in the Western Cape’s Great Karoo Area close to Beaufort West in South Africa. The Karoo National Park is a semi-desert land stretching to 750km2 and the section of the Great Escarpment traverses the park. The park is thus partly in the lower Karoo with an elevation of 850m above sea level and partly in the upper Karoo at an elevation of 1300 m above sea level. The Karoo National Park features two (2) main game drive tracks which may not require a 4×4 vehicle where one stretches the Lower Karoo plains of Lammertjiesleegte while another is a circular circuit 49km in length which stretches to the Klipspringer Pass in the Upper Karoo Plateau returning to extreme west of the loop at the Doornhoek picnic site. The middle section of Karoo National Park is accessible buy 4×4 vehicles.
Karoo National Park is a magical sanctuary with various counts of gemsbok, Springbok, Cape Mountain Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Buffalo, Black Rhinoceros, the Kudu, eland, black-backed jackal, bat-eared foxes, ostriches and on rare cases lions. The Karoo National Park features five (5) species of tortoise which is the highest number in a single habitat on a world scale. Besides the tortoise, the park features the endangered riverine rabbit that has been resettled here successfully. Karoo National Park features considerable bird species including a myriad of Verreaux’s eagles with nests on the Escarpment cliffs. Other raptors like booted Eagles, Martial Eagles along with shy Cape Eagle-owl thrive in the park.
The Karoo National Park is seated on Beaufort rock group whose sediments were laid down on the extensive alluvial plain that covers greater section of the current day South Africa when it was part of the Gondwana land between 280 million years ago and 240 million years ago. The 6km thick sediments are believed to have been deposited by rivers similar to Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Indus that currently drain the Himalayas in the Indian Subcontinent. The vegetation in Karoo National Park majorly consists of short xerophytic shrubs not more than 1m in height along with some grasses. The vegetation is deciduous resulting from scarce rainfall.
Attractions in Karoo National Park
Wildlife as a South Africa Safari attraction in Karoo National Park
The Karoo National Park features a range of wild game including; Red Hartebeest, the two zebra species, Eland, Springbok, Kudu, Klipspringer, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox, Smith’s rock elephant-shrew, Cape rock elephant-shrew, Striped Polecat, Cape Clawless Otter, Round-eared elephant-shrew, Water Mongoose, Lesser dwarf shrew, Yellow Mongoose, Small-spotted Genet, Caracal, Aardwolf, Rock Hyrax, African Wildcat, Aardvark, Cape Mountain Zebra, Brown Hyena, Forest shrew, Vervet monkey among other species. The Park is also a home to a range of reptiles including; five (5) species of tortoise, the two (2) Chameleons, Eighteen (18) snake species, terrapin, gama, lizards, skinks and a range of geckos.
Birds as a South African Safari Attraction in Karoo National Park
The Karoo National Park features counts of bird species including the Karoo Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Ludwig’s Bustard, Acacia Pied Barbet, Karoo Scrub Robin, Red-eyed Bulbul, Cape Robin-chat, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomola, Southern (Lesser) Double-collared and Dusky Sunbird, Pale-winged Starling, Redheaded Finch among other species. The regional specials like Karoo Eremomela, Pririt Batis and Namaqua Warbler (Prinia) thrive in the park. The park features a myriad of raptor species including; Booted Eagle, Rock Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Pale Chanting Goshawk and Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle.
Vegetation as a South African Safari Attraction in Karoo National Park
vegetation of Karoo National Park is an attraction in itself. The park is positioned in the Karoo-Namib bio-geographical region of which some of the areas lie in the Nama Karoo Biome. The vegetation physiognomy includes Montane Karoo grassy shrublands, Karoo succulent dwarf shrublands, Karoo grassy dwarf shrublands and riparian thicket. The precipitation in Karoo differs with altitude where the high altitude of 1800m features high rainfall 406mm while the lower altitude of 800m, the rain fall stands at 175mm and very uncertain.
Tourist Activities in Karoo National Park
Game drives as a South African Safari Activity in Karoo National Park
The game drives in Karoo National Park are designed to enable one explore the abundant wild game in the park. The game drive can be conducted in the morning lasting 2 – 3 hours and at night lasting 1 ½ hours. The activity offers possibility of viewing wild game including; Red Hartebeest, zebra species, Eland, Springbok, Kudu, Klipspringer, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox, Smith’s rock elephant-shrew, Cape rock elephant-shrew, Striped Polecat, Cape Clawless Otter, Round-eared elephant-shrew, Water Mongoose, Lesser dwarf shrew, Yellow Mongoose, Small-spotted Genet, Caracal, Aardwolf, Rock Hyrax, African Wildcat, Aardvark, Cape Mountain Zebra, Brown Hyena, Forest shrew, Vervet monkey among other species.
X 4 Eco Trail as a South African Safari Activity in Karoo National Park
The 4 x 4 Adventure trails exploration is an exciting activity and the Karoo National Park features these three (3) trails worth exploration. The Afsaal EcoTrail (13km) and the Nuweveld EcoTrail (90km) present magical encounter while the Sandrivier Loop (7km) and the Kookfontein Loop (7km) divert from above main routes respectively. The other adventure trail is Pienaars Pass.
Guided Walk as a South African Safari Activity in Karoo National Park
The Karoo National Park can also be explored on foot. The guided walks offer South Africa safari undertakers a close encounter with the park’s magical ecosystems. The guided walks run at 6am during summer and 07am during winter and advance booking on the day before is required. One of the impressive trails is the fossil trail which is 400m in length showcasing palaeontology and geology of the great Karoo.
Birding as a South Africa Safari activity in Karoo National Park
The Karoo National Park presents impressive birding experience as well. The following birding trails exist in the park including;
- Lammertjiesleegte circular drive. This a 13km long trail that lasts about 2 -3 hours suitably done in the morning or in the afternoon with possibilities of viewing Ludwig’s Bustard, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Karoo Korhaan, Namaqua Dove, Karoo Long-billed Lark, European Bee-eater (summer), Karoo Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Black-eared Sparrowlark (nomadic after rains), Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Tractrac Chat, Sickle-winged Chat, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Karoo Chat, Rufous-eared Warbler, Chat Flycatcher, Lark-like Bunting and Dusky Sunbird.
- Klipspringer Pass Drive. This is 12km trail and lasts about 1 ½ – 2 hours offering chances of viewing; Black-headed Canary, Steppe Buzzard (summer), Verreaux’s Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, White-necked Raven, Rock Kestrel, Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Layard’s Titbabbler, Grey-backed Cisticola, Grey Tit, African Rock Pipit, Ground Woodpecker, Long-billed Pipit and Grey-winged Francolin.
- The Bird hide. This is a little dam close to the rest camp offering possible sights of Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Greater Striped Swallow, African Reed-Warbler (summer), Fairy Flycatcher, Redknobbed Coot, South African Shelduck, Purple Heron on rare occasions, Southern Red Bishop, Little Bittern and Moorhen. The encounter here takes about ½ – 1 hour.
- The Caravan Park takes about 1 hour with possible views of Southern Tchagra, Bokmakierie, Acacia Pied Barbet, Fairy Flycatcher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Karoo Scrub-Robin, African Reed-Warbler during summer, Spotted Eagle-Owl at night, Namaqua Warbler and Dusky Sunbird.
- The Fossil and Bossie trails. These are short trails lasting 1 hour featuring Karro shrubs and impressive fossils. The possible sights include; Mountain Wheatear, Karoo Long-billed Lark, African Rock Pipit, Bokmakierie, Grey-backed Cisticola and Short-toed Rock-Thrush.
- The Pointer trail. This is a 4km trail and offers possibilities of viewing African Rock Pipit, Long-billed Pipit, Karoo Chat, Grey-backed Cisticola, Layard’s Titbabbler and Cape Bunting.
Google Map Showing How to Get to Karoo National Park
How to get to Karoo National Park
Karoo National Park is majorly accessed by car and it 500km from Cape Town while Johannesburg is positioned at 1,000km to the north of the park. The park gates open at 05am and close at 08pm.
Karoo National Park can also be accessed by Air and George is the closest Airport about 300km from Karoo National Park. There is also a small Airstrip 10km to north of Beaufort West but with no scheduled flights.
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