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Best Places to Stay in the Upper Karoo – South Africa’s Astoundingly Beautiful ‘Outback’

Updated Friday, 16 April 2021

Best Places to Stay in Upper Karoo ~ Don’t think you’re going to manage the Karoo South Africa in one visit. Because you’re not.

For starters it takes up a substantial chunk of the innerlands of South Africa – its full extent not obviously defined (for instance there are no road signs stating ‘Karoo’), although you’ll know you’re there by its cloudless skies, low rainfall, propensity for little towns, lots of sheep, and extreme heat and cold.

The further north you go, the more difficult the roads become to navigate.

And once you’ve got a taste for the Karoo you’ll be back for more. It’s a living testament to many South Africans’ retirement mantra:

“A little Karoo ‘huisie’ with a front stoep – just me, the veld and my kopje”.

Best places to stay in Upper Karoo …

South Africa’s Karoo is broadly divided by the Swartberg Mountains into the Great and Little Karoo.

The northern extent of the Karoo has no definite boundary other than an increasingly arid environment that eventually merges with the savannah and grasslands of the Highveld and the uninhabited nether reaches of the Northern Cape.

Incredible Places to Sleep Under the Stars in South Africa

The Little Karoo, just so you know, is a lot smaller, hemmed in by mountain ranges on all sides. It’s better described as a 300 km valley wedged between two sets of mountains – the Swartberg and the Langeberg-Outeniqua ranges.

The upper Karoo, the subject of this blog, is the still northern reaches of the Great Karoo – as far into the Karoo as you can get, really, and as close as you’ll get to a description of ‘outback’ in South Africa.

Here is our pick of the best places to stay in upper Karoo South Africa: They range from farm stays to boutique hotels in Northern Cape’s little towns.

Boutique Guest House, De Aar

This lively and pleasingly trendy guesthouse makes venturing into the otherwise not overly exciting little town of De Aar (on the border with the Free State) a welcome respite. You’re close to a list of nature reserves and a Garden of Remembrance, as well as several San rock art sites on neighbouring farms.

Boutique Guest House, De Aar

Papkuilsfontein Guest Farm, Nieuwoudtville

A farm on a plateau perched between the West Coast and the Namaqualand where indigenous bulbs burst into bloom at the first mention of spring. Think natural cool rock pools, waterfall, hiking trails, MTB trails and San rock art.

Papkuilsfontein Guest Farm, Nieuwoudtville

Sweetfontein Farm Lodge, Britstown

There’s nothing country bumpkin-like about this farm stay, just outside Britstown (nearest towns: De Aar and Vosburg), with its modern furnishings, emphasis on comfort and access to Wi-Fi. And there’s that view from the porch…

Sweetfontein Farm Lodge, Britstown

Boutique Manor, De Aar

There must be something in the water in De Aar, because this is the second really trendy, must-stay boutique hotel in De Aar. We suggest that this necessitates a visit. It’s east to se why this made our list of “best places to stay in Upper Karoo”.

Boutique Manor, De Aar

Osfontein Guest Farm, Carnarvon

This is your chance to stay in a corbelled house – originally built by the 1800 Voortrekkers – so grab it with both hands. Nothing but you, the sky and silence. If that doesn’t grab you, then the converted stone shed or the treehouse overlooking a dam will.

Best Places to Stay in the Upper Karoo - Osfontein

The Artist Cottage, Sutherland

We like Sutherland (you can probably tell, as this artistically decorated gem is the third option for a stay in town) because it serves as a good weekend escape for Capetonians, as well as a perfect diversion for those travelling the N1 between major cities.

The Artist Cottage, Sutherland

Moonlight Manor, Victoria West

If you haven’t yet visited the little historical village of Victoria West, make it something you do as it’s an easy overnight stop, not too far off the N1. It’s famous for its vintage furniture stores, echoed in this venue with its period furniture and wooden floors.

Letsatsi Game Lodge, Smithfield

Letsatsi Game Lodge, Smithfield

Smithfield lies on the furthest western edge of the Karoo in the Free State. It’s a quaint little town. This beautiful game lodge is described as a ‘little piece of heaven on earth’ with breathtaking views out over the surrounding hills and valleys. The bush camp can only be reached by a descending wooden staircase with observation decks the whole way down.]

Siloam Lodge, Jacobsdal

Siloam Lodge, Jacobsdal

About 18 km outside of town are four thatched chalets overlooking a waterhole, and a family unit. The beauty of the venue is best enjoyed whilst bass fishing, trail running, mountain biking or swimming. Spot the wildlife.

Siloam Lodge, Jacobsdal

Muggefontein, Fraserburg

Reaching Fraserburg entails a set of sturdy tyres (with at least two spares in the boot) but it’s worth it for the quiet and typical Karoo stillness you’ll experience. Muggefontein is a working merino wool sheep and olive farm on which you can stay in a three-bedroom farmhouse – true country living.

Best Places to Stay in Upper Karoo - Muggefontein, Fraserburg

Apollis Cottage, Springbok

To reach Apollis Cottage you’ll need to travel 9km of dirt road, but the views out over the stony hills of the Namaqualand are more than worth it. Considered the flower capital of Namaqualand, Springbok is a good stop to visit the Skilpad Wildflower Nature Reserve and Augrabies Nature Reserve.

Best Places to Stay in Upper Karoo - Applois Cottage, Springbok

Beach House, Port Nolloth

By the time you’ve reached the coastal town of Port Nolloth you’re in the furthest north western extremity of the Karoo. We think this 1870s house, divided into two units, with nothing between you and the Atlantic, is a perfect end to a Karoo experience.

Beach House, Port Nolloth

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