The Great Karoo

This vast semi desert with its seemingly endless plains and castellated mountains provides a perfect escape from city crowds and concerns. It’s a stark landscape but also one of dramatic beauty and endless fascination, where you can enjoy crystal clear air, spectacular dawns and sunsets – and brilliant stars.

Natural History

The Great Karoo has a remarkable natural history as one of the great cradles of evolution. It lies at the centre of what was once the great landmass of Gondwanaland. In prehistory these plains were a vast lake, fed by rivers ands streams and home to an extraordinary range of plant and animal life. Their fossil remains, laid down over aeons of sedimentation, make a powerful case for the Karoo as the place where the first warm-blooded mammal-like creatures evolved from reptiles. Thanks to the pioneering work of local collectors, Graaff-Reinet has become an international centre of palaeontology.

Outstanding collections of these fossils can be seen in the Old Library museum in the town and at Wellwood farm some 20km north of the town.

Make Graaff-Reinet – and Cypress Cottages – your base for exploring and enjoying this remarkable region.

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The Great Karoo

This vast semi desert with its seemingly endless plains and castellated mountains provides a perfect escape from city crowds and concerns. It’s a stark landscape but also one of dramatic beauty and endless fascination, where you can enjoy crystal clear air, spectacular dawns and sunsets – and brilliant stars.

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Graaff-Reinet

Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest town in South Africa , founded in 1786 as the furthest outpost of the Dutch East India Company. The nineteenth century saw it grow from a wild frontier station into a prosperous staging post and farming centre, thanks to its strategic position on the main route between Algoa Bay and the developing interior.

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Valley of Desolation

There’s no better place to see the drama of the landscape, to learn about its geological evolution or to view the amazing setting of the town, or to watch the sun rise or set over the Plains of Camdeboo than from these extraordinary cliffs and crags. You may also be lucky enough to see the resident pair of black eagles circling at sunset.

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