Capital of the Karoo
Beaufort West lies on the banks of the Gamka River and just north of the Nuweveld Mountains in the Central Karoo. In a world with an ever growing need for space, the Karoo offers a vastness that allows you to feel free. It is peaceful, silent and breathtakingly beautiful with clear, bright skies and clean air.
The town of Beaufort West is the largest in the Central Karoo and is referred to as the “Capital of the Karoo”. The town is also the oldest town in the area and is rich in history, making it a place of interest to the Historian, the Scientist and the Eco-Tourist. It displays elegant Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian, Romanesque, Cape Dutch, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Classic and Contemporary styles of architecture, all in an easy walk through the centre of town. The first reptile fossil was found here and the area offers some of the world’s most interesting Stone Age sites and fascinating rock paintings and engravings left by Bushmen thousands of years ago on the farms in the area.
Local farms provided the eco-tourist with opportunities for hiking and walking and also to take on the challenge of some 4x4 trails.
The town is a staging post on the road from Cape Town to Johannesburg. It has several hotels, two caravan parks and a motel.
Places to Visit
Things to do and see
- The Karoo National Park
- Beaufort West Museum
- Donkey Cart Tours
- Karoo Cultural Tour by Donkey
- Hillandale Mountain Bike Trail
- Karoo Erdvark Trail
- Karoo Nuweveld 4x4 Trail
The area receives approximately 160 mm of rainfall per annum with most of it occurring during early autumn, with March seeing the highest levels.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 15˚C and 31˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 0˚C and 17˚C.
There are daily flights from Johannesburg and Durban into Cape Town International Airport, approximately 462 km from Beaufort West and into Bloemfontein’s Bram Fischer International Airport, approximately 542 km from Beaufort West. Car rental companies are located at the Airports.
Beaufort West can also be reached along the N1 from Johannesburg, approximately 931 km and will take about eight and a half hour.
May – Karoo Outdoor Festival: Held each year at the Vale Farm which includes Veld Shooting competitions for both Seniors and Juniors. Locals offer traditional stalls, food and a tea garden, plus an evening spitbraai and dance.
The town was established in 1820 and was named after the fifth Duke of Beaufort, father of the Cape Governor at the time, Lord Charles Somerset.
In 1837 Beaufort West became the first municipality in South Africa.
The town became prosperous with the introduction of merino sheep to the area. One of its early citizens, Sir John Charles Molteno, a wool trader and champion of responsible government nicknamed 'the Lion of Beaufort', founded the town's first bank in 1854. He was to become the first Prime Minister of the Cape.
The first edition of Beaufort West's local newspaper, The Courier, was printed in 1869.
When the railway reached the town, in 1880, Beaufort West became a marshalling yard and locomotive depot.
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