The Little Karoo lies behind the coastal Garden Route and it’s altogether different in appearance. It is much drier country than the rest of the Garden Route with majestic rugged mountains, country roads and lots of farming. Indeed it is often dry and sunny in the Little Karoo when the Garden Route is experiencing cloudy conditions. It is a long valley that lies between the Swartberg and Langeberg mountain ranges.
As its name suggests, this area is the smaller sibling of the Great Karoo. The Klein Karoo may initially appear bleak, but it not only supports the biggest variety of succulent plants in the world, it also produces some of the best wines. This fascinating part of South Africa is where you’ll find the Cango Caves, a truly spectacular natural wonder
You can sample the excellent wines of the Little Karoo over lunch at a working ostrich farm or visit the Cango Caves, a labyrinthine complex of some of the largest limestone caverns in the world. The intrepid will be captivated by the wild beauty of the Swartberg Pass to Prince Albert and the mysterious hidden valley of Die Hel, whilst children will adore seeing the big cats at the Cango Wildlife Ranch, learning about (and riding!) ostriches, and cringing at the crocodile and snake farm.
We recommend staying a night in the Little Karoo as it is quite a drive from Knysna, let alone Plettenberg Bay. Most of our preferred hotels lie in country areas enjoying lovely views such as La Plume or Mooiplaas Guest Farm. Others, such as Rosenhof Country House, lie on the edge of Oudtshoorn en route to the Cango Caves.
We especially recommend the Little Karoo for families and people who enjoy being active and on the go…
Attractions in the Little Karoo
• Cango Caves – we recommend the 1½ hour Adventure tour if you’re not claustrophobic
• Ostrich farm tours where children can even ride an ostrich
• Cango Wildlife Ranch
• Meerkat Magic – get very close to wild meerkats
• Swartberg Pass – one of the most stunning mountain passes in South Africa
• Enjoy farm hospitality and boating at Wilgewandel farm
• Swartberg Adventures offer quad biking, mountain biking, hiking and abseiling in the Little Karoo
The Swartberg Pass & Prince Alfred
The magnificent Swartberg Pass in the Little Karoo is one of the most stunning mountain passes in South Africa (in our humble opinion) and the vistas from the top give you a glimpse into the Great Karoo, the vast interior of South Africa.
On the other side of the Pass lies Prince Albert, a pretty little town filled with typical flat-topped Karoo houses, with many little craft shops and galleries to browse in as well as coffee shops and restaurants for lunch. This makes for a great relaxing day if you are staying for two nights. Perhaps take the scenic circular drive via both the Swartberg Pass and the Meiringspoort Pass?
Route 62 to the Little Karoo
The attractive country route, Route 62, meanders its way from the Cape Winelands to the Little Karoo. It passes through some rugged mountain country and then through a series of pretty country towns such as Montagu and Robertson. Here in a gentle landscape of river valleys, vineyards and fruit orchards, you can enjoy wine-tasting at some of the charming little estates in the Breede River Valley.