The Klein Karoo
Did you know?
The caves extend for miles into the mountains, but only a small section is open to visitors
The Klein or Little Karoo in the Western Cape is a long valley that lies between the Swartberg and Langeberg mountain ranges. As it's name suggests, this area is the smaller sibling of the Great Karoo, to its north.
It has a wide variety of accommodation and activities and is one of the most unique and beautiful parts of South Africa, sandwiched between impressive mountains that offer ever-changing vistas.
The region stretches from De Rust in the east and Barrydale in the west and includes the towns of Calitzdorp, Ladismith and Oudtshoorn, the last being famous as a host for the annual national Afrikaans arts festival, the KKNK, and its role in the history of ostrich farming.
Because of its climate the Klein Karoo is an interesting wine producing area and vineyards that provide for a variety of quality of wines, not least the fortified wines like muscadel that do well in this sunny region.
One of the most interesting natural attractions is the Cango Caves, about 30km outside Oudtshoorn. This cave system was formed by rainwater eroding rock and limestone over 20 million years.
The caves and its gigantic stalactites and stalagmites were proclaimed an historical monument in 1938 and it is one of the worlds leading show caves, attracting thousands of local and international visitors.
The Cango Caves lie in the foothills of the Swartberg which is also the location for one of the most scenic and awe-inspiring drives in South Africa, the Swartberg Pass that connects Oudtshoorn with Prince Albert in the Great Karoo. Not for the faint--hearted, be prepared to navigate switchback bends on a narrow gravel road, and to be rewarded with views to match
Another equally spectacular drive is through Meiringspoort which winds its way through a narrow gorge delivering lovely views of the rock formations typical of the Cape folded mountains.
The area also has beautiful wilderness areas, including the Gamkaskloof and Aynsberg provincial nature reserves where semi-desert flora, including special succulents, and fauna, like the Cape mountain leopard, can be found.
Travel tips & Planning info
How to get here
The Klein Karoo stretches along the the R62 from Barrydale in the west to De Rust in the east. Route 62 runs between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, the Garden Route and Port Elizabeth, offering an alternative to the N2 highway.
Around the area
Nature reserves in the Klein Karoo include the Doringrivier Wilderness , the Gamkaskloof Nature Reserves, the Anysberg Nature Reserve and the Swartberg area.
Tours to do
Klein Karoo Wine Route The Cango Caves
Driving, hiking and cycling are the best ways to experience the Klein Karoo.