South Africa Table Mountain

Camdeboo National Park,
great attractions and activities

The Camdeboo National Park (previously Karoo Nature Reserve), boasts a fascinating variety of attractions and activities. Think of game safaris, the "Valley of Desolation", cultural tours, guided township walks and paragliding, micro-light flying, trout fishing, fossils search, golf, horse riding, mountain biking, to name but a few.

The viewpoints in the Valley of Desolation provide a breathtaking view of piled dolerites columns against the backdrop of the plain of the Great Karoo, a landscape said to be the product of the erosive and volcanic forces of nature over a period of 200 million years.

There are five trails laid out in the Park, one at the top of the Valley of Desolation, a 1.5km 45 minute walk along the very summit of the hill, and three in the Eerstefontein area below Spandau kop. An overnight trail is available on the south-eastern side of the Park.

  • The Crag Lizard Trail (45 minutes) starts at the Valley parking area and extends for about 1.5km via the Valley viewpoints. It is marked with the Crag Lizard logo.

  • The Eerstefontein Day Walk starts and ends at the Spandau kop gate. There are three route options of 5, 11 and 14km with good rest spots at Eerstefontein and Agtersfontein.

  • The Driekoppe Trail is an overnight trail in the mountains of the Eastern section of the park.
The “Valley of Desolation” in the Camdeboo National Park - Camdeboo National Park, Karoo Nature Reserve, South Africa
The "Valley of Desolation" in the Camdeboo Park
Camdeboo National Park, Karoo Nature Reserve, South Africa

The 14.000 hectare Camdeboo National Park that surrounds Graaff-Reinet, teems with game and bird life. Presently, approximately 19km of gravel roadways provide visitors with the opportunity to view the entire range of indigenous species in their preferred habitats. Together with the rare Cape Mountain Zebra, you can enjoy 5 antelope species that do not occur in the Kruger National Park, the Springbok, Gemsbok (Oryx), Red Hartebees, Blesbok, and Black Wildebeest (Gnu).

Piled dolerites columns against the backdrop of the “Valley of Desolation - Camdeboo National Park, Karoo Nature Reserve, South Africa
Piled dolerites columns against the backdrop of the "Valley of Desolation"
Camdeboo National Park, Karoo Nature Reserve, South Africa

The Park has many and diverse attractions, from its rich animal and plant life, the scenic outdoors of the Valley of Desolation, the Nqweba Dam and the historical town of Graaff-Reinet, to the magnificent night skies, Bushmen sketches, Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture, Karoo hospitality, sport and adventure, and shopping. More than 200 buildings in Graaff-Reinet are National Monuments enabling you to enjoy old-world charm amidst a modern lifestyle.

A horse and carriage ride offers an introduction to the well maintained Cape-Dutch architecture of this historic place. It is also recommended to visit the Reinet House in Murray street, the Old Residency in Parsonage street, the Old Library and the Drostdy in Church street. Graaff-Reinet boasts many other tourist attractions, from paragliding, micro-light flying, trout fishing, fossile search, golf, horse riding and mountain biking to guided township walks.

Spandou kop (hill) - Camdeboo National Park, Karoo Nature Reserve, South Africa
Spandou kop (hill)
Camdeboo National Park, Karoo Nature Reserve, South Africa">

The little Karoo hamlet of Nieu-Bethesda is worth a detour, about a 50km from Graaff-Reinet. Time seems to stand still here. The access road turns off the N9 (direction Middelburg) and leads on a gravel road through the picturesque Compass mountains (2502 m). Streets in the village are also untarred. There are two shops, one coffee shop and, nowadays, a couple of little accommodation venues. Many artists have settled in Nieu-Bethesda.






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