Beaufort West Tourist Attractions
Beaufort West lies on N 1, the main road from Cape Town to Johannesburg, in the Great Karoo, of which it is the principal town. This is a stock-farming region, and Beaufort West is a merino-breeding center.The town was founded in 1814. It was the birthplace of the famous heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard. Many prizes and distinctions won by Barnard are displayed in the town's Museum, which stands near the little parsonage in which he lived as a child. Also of interest is the old Stadhuis, the first municipal building.Sir John Molteno purchased a large tract of land in the Beaufort West area (at Nelspoort) in 1840, which he used for sheep farming. Beaufort West remained the hub of his sheep farming operations with the assistance of several cousins who had also emigrated from England. There are still Jackson descendants living in the Beaufort West area today.
Karoo National Park
To the northwest of Beaufort West is the Karoo National Park (area 33,000/81,500 ac), which covers much of the Nuweveldberg range (825-1,911m/2,707-6,270ft). It was established in 1979 to protect the unique flora and fauna of the Karoo. A number of species have been reintroduced here (mountain zebras, springboks, kudus, wild cats). The Springbok Hiking Trail (a 3-day walk: advance booking necessary) runs through the park, and there are also many shorter walks, for example on the Fossil Trail 400m/440yd), which lets visitors see the fossils on their original find-spots.The Karoo National Park is open throughout the year (though the Springbok Hiking Trail can be used only between February and September) and has accommodation for visitors. The main gate is reached on a minor road branching off N 1.
The Great Karoo is a semi-arid, hilly region that covers one-third of South Africa. It has an unpredictable climate with most of the rain falling in February and March.