Discover the Central Karoo | Western Cape Government

Discover the Central Karoo

The Central Karoo region is the largest in the Western Cape. Known for its dark skies and bright stars, this is where stargazers can see the night sky in all its glory. You can set up camp to admire the beauty of stars night after night. 

The word Karoo, originates from the word ‘garo’ which means desert in the local Khoi-San language. It thirsts to be explored. It is home to the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West, which is close to the N1 (halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town). This is the perfect pitstop to stretch your legs.  Here you’ll find black Rhinos, bat-eared foxes and riverine rabbits amongst many other animals.  Explore the hidden treasures of the Karoo, visit game and nature reserves, farms and fascinating museums, bushman engravings and fossil collections.

The Central Karoo district has 3 local municipalities:

This town became the first municipality in South Africa and the first town hall in South Africa was built here in 1865. It forms part of the Beaufort West museum that houses a display of all the awards presented to Professor Chris Barnard, who performed the world’s first heart transplant in 1967.

The Dutch Reformed Church, where his father was a minister, also houses a collection of items that are rooted in the history. The house next door to the church is where the Barnard family lived and where Professor Barnard’s ashes are buried in the garden.

Beaufort West connects you to the rich history the Karoo has to offer, including its diverse cultures, languages and food. Towns found in this municipality are Merweville and Nelspoort.

In 1981, the Karoo town celebrated its centenary but also faced its greatest tragedy. A devastating flood washed away most of the town and its people.

Laingsburg is a great place for hiking, fossil hunting, geological studies and food. The Laingsburg Farmer’s Market held on the last Saturday of every month is a great way to meet the locals and buy locally made preserves, meat and baked goods. Matjiesfontein is another town situated in this municipality.

Many of the buildings in Prince Albert have a unique gable, known as the Prince Albert Gable, these gables date from 1840 to 1860.

Food culture is at the centre of this town’s activities. From a gourmet cycling experience to cooking classes with celebrity chefs, your taste buds are sure to be left tantalized after visiting Prince Albert. Join the Olive festival, which is a 2 day food affair with elements of arts, crafts, history and culture. Feel closer to nature by going on a bush camp, a fossil trail hike or enjoy a day getting to know the locals.

This municipality includes the towns and surrounding farm areas of Klaarstroom, Prince Albert Road and Leeu Gamka.

We’ve put together a list of some of the top things to experience when visiting the Central Karoo.


The central Karoo has a unique food culture with food made from pure, organic and local ingredients.
The flood museum in Laingsburg

Family Fun

Enjoy a bonding session with the family with great activities for everyone.


Explore the outdoors and connect to nature.
Camping site in Brikfontein

Budget idea

Grab a few wires and beads and join the Beadkidz, in making art. This is an initiative that was born from the young people of Prince Albert in 2013. They asked a few volunteers from the Path Out of Poverty (POP) youth centre, to help them with something that could keep them busy and earn a small income from it. They meet twice a week to work together and they make fridge magnets and little beaded figures, 'The Prince Albert People'.

Central Karoo images in a banner format

The content on this page was last updated on 13 September 2022