The Central Karoo District Council and the Provincial Roads Department have launched an all-out effort to repair flood damage amounting to millions of rands to roads and passes during the festive season. Meiringspoort alone was flooded three times in a month. Its reconstruction has been given top priority, and complex work costing millions began on January 15. If everything goes according to schedule, this popular tourist route should be able to accommodate traffic by April, according to District Roads Engineer Juan Prodehl. During operations, care will be taken not to disturb the ecology. “By the time we re-open the route the road will be able to carry two lanes of traffic, but it will not yet have its final topping. Work on the sides of the road and bridges will still be in progress and tourists using this route will be expected to exercise caution,” Mr Prodehl said.


Kort voor die Kersgety het swaar reen skade van miljoene rande in die Sentrale Karoo Streek veroorsaak. Paaie en passe is gesluit en toeriste is gedwing om alternatiewe roetes te gebruik. Kansellssies het voorgekom en tot minder bedbesettingsyfers gelei. In Beaufort-Wes het boonop nuwe rolspelers, insluitende ‘n internasionale hotelgroep, die mark betree. Hierdie sameloop van omstandighede het ‘n nadelige uitwerking op sekere sektore van die mark gehad. Die streekstoerisme kantoor is verwyt omdat daar onbesette kamers was en daar is ook gevoel dat sekere besighede bo ander bevoordeel is. Distrikeraad voorsitter, Herman de Witt, sê: “Hierdie aantygings is heeltemal onwaar. Elke toeris word ‘n keuse gebied. Buitendien is dit nie ons funksie om akkommodasie te bemark nie, dit berus by individuele hotel- en gastehuis eienaars. Ons funksie is streeksbemarking en die promosie van die Karoo as geheel op nasionale en internasionale vlak. Huidiglik lewer ons ‘n inligtingsdiens in Beaufort-Wes bloot as ‘n guns omdat die dorp ‘n toerisme buro gestig het.”


There is a Natal tourist who considers Joe Lennox, manager of Beaufort West’s Queens Hotel, the King of Good Service. “Some years ago during a busy festive season Frank Bowen and his wife were stranded after a road accident near the town. Frank said: “The only place prepared to help was the Queens. Joe Lennox really put himself out to ensure that we were cared for. He was the epitome of consideration and good service. Now, every December, we fly to Cape Town, hire a car and drive to Beaufort West to spend a week with him at the Queens which, as Tina Turner says, is ‘Simply the Best’.”


Tourists travelling with pets gave Engen One Stop at Swartberg Motors in Beaufort West a pat on the head for thoughtfulness during the festive season. The service station created a Doggie Park on their lawns and provided free dog food and water. “This project was an Engen initiative for the festive season and One Stops that wished could participate,” explained Swartberg Motors bookkeeper Rita Smit, who was also responsible for the doggy snacks. She ensured that there were also titbits for puppies and a variety of pellets for more mature furry travellers. ”As dog lovers, we decided to be part of the project and were thrilled at the response,” she said. Many tourists calling at the Regional Tourism Information Office had high praise for Swartberg Motors’ thoughtfulness. Its clean toilets also received compliments.


Voëltjieliefhebbers is genooi om deel te neem in ‘n somerwatertelling op ‘n pragplaas in die Karoo. Die William Quinton Wildevoëlvereniging reel ‘n uitstappie vir die naweek van 7 tot 9 Februarie op Sakrivierspoort waar talle voëlspesies gewoonlik waargeneem kan word. Diegene wat wil saam kom om die naweek in die ope lug te geniet, kan reelings tref met Japie Claassen. Hy sê: “Tydens hierdie uitstappie gaan voëlberinging by ‘n familie swaelkolonie ook plaasvind.”


Hillandale Guest Farm has joined forces with Out There magazine to promote adventure holidays in the Karoo. One of the magazine’s writers, Dominique McClarty, recently visited Hillandale and tried some of its trails. A special feature article on the farm is due to appear soon. And, Hillandale will support this by sponsoring a weekend for eight as a prize in a mountain bike competition. The farm specialises in holidays, honeymoons, 4 x 4 trails, rambles, walks, bikes and mountain bike routes. Guests can stay in the handsome homestead, surrounded by ancient stone buildings, trees and a pleasant garden. Along the trails there is also accommodation in old stone shepherds’ cottages of the corbel design. There are also camping sites. The farm lies in a mountainous area with beautiful geological strata and ancient riverbeds.


Vanjaar se Klein Karoo Kunstefees sal in Oudtshoorn vanaf 29 Maart tot 5 April plaasvind. Stalletjies sal soos gewoonlik vir dorpe wat toeriame geleenthede wil adverteer beskikbaar gestel word. Die gewilde voedsel- en wynfees sal vir die voile duur van die kunstefees in die Rembrandtsaal van die C P Nel Museum gehou word. Omliggende dorpe is genooi en beide Prins Albert en Beaufort-Wes stel belang om Karoo-kosse aan te bind. Die wyn- en boekeveiling vind of 4 April plaas.


The indiscriminate destruction of the Karoo’s architectural heritage was once again high-lighted when an American tourist asked: “what happened to Beaufort West? Why does it have so few beautiful old buildings? And why does it look so devastated?” Suddenly one is aware of how few historic buildings remain in the central area as well as the importance of architectural heritage to tourism in the platteland. A new book, aimed at creating interest in the subject, will be published in March. Entitled Our Threatened Heritage, it was written by Andre Pretorius, who firmly believes that South Africa cannot now afford the loss of even one more example of indigenous architecture. Copies can be ordered from Andre Pretorius, 4 Uplands Road, Milnerton, 7441. Andre says early orders will receive a 20% discount.


Should she ever visit, the Queen of England will find a little piece of home at Matjiesfontein’s Lord Milner Hotel. The barleypole in the centre of the diningroom, it turns out, is a replica of one in Buckingham Palace. But that is not the only reminder of Blighty in this historic village. The museum under the station is filled with memorabillia and Victoriana. There’s a room full of floral sanitaryware and displays of silver, glass, crystal and porcelain. There are uniforms. parlour games, a kitchen with paraphernalia, old typewriters and telephone equipment. Matjiesfontein once had the longest telephone line in South Africa – it ran from James Logan’s farm house to the hotel. And, there’s a complete chemist shop from the last century with a display of old cameras and photographic equipment. There is also a collection of Boer War memorabillia. Among the unusual items is a whip that once belonged to William James Laskin, who in 1898 was Lord Alfred Milner’s coachman.


Red Pepper Produksies het op 22 Janauarie video opnames van die die Karoo gemaak. Die opnames maak deel uit van die Wes-Kaap Toerisme Raad se promosie video wat in die buiteland vir bemarking gebruik sal word. Die opnames het die dorp, die Karoo Nasionale Park en Matjiesfontein ingesluit. Tydens hulle besoek aan Beaufort-Wes het die Formula One Hotel die TV span met komplimentre akkommodasie geborg.


With the exception of the pink variety, the only evidence ever found of elephants in the Karoo was in 1939 when a fossilised tusk was unearthed at Leeu Gamka. However, finding elephants in the Karoo is part of the storyline of a mini-series which was being filmed for German TV at Lemoenfontein outside Beaufort West. All went well until the male lead stepped into an aardvark hole and broke a leg. The team aim to return in March. The story tells of a doctor who, sponsored by a millionaire, comes to Africa to set up a rural hospital in a beautiful, far flung place. It’s a romantic tale with many adventures, and during one the doctor discovers elephants. The series is being made by Film Africa of Kenilworth, Cape, and Real Film, a German company. The director and stars are German while all other actors and technicians are South African. While in Beaufort West the VIPs thoroughly enjoyed the elegance of Matoppo Country Inn, which they rated on par with top European guest houses.


Tourism Blueprint is weereens besig met die samestelling van ‘n nuwe Weskaap Toergids vir 1997/1998. Hulle sal alle hotel- en gastehuise deur die streek direk kontak vir advertensies. Die gids word verkoop en is veral gewild onder internasionale besoekers.


Lemoenfontein of the Anglo-Boer War comes to life in the memoirs of Major the Hon A V F V Russell of the Grenadier Guards. His description of recuperating from a fever at this farm was recently discovered by Boer War researcher Garth Benneyworth. Russell was at Lemoenfontein in February 1901. He writes of “feeling seedy” and being frustrated by being out of action. He was miserable and found the Karoo “very hot”. Constant dust storms almost choked and blinded him- Yet there were enjoyable times. He and Robert Lygon, another invalid soldier, took long walks in the early morning and evenings to enjoy the views and sundown over the mountains. They called on the De Jagers of Kuilspoort and were invited to dine and hunt. When the time came to leave they bade the Karoo farewell with heavy hearts.


The mention of Blood River automatically calls to mind the Natal confrontation between Andries Pretorius’s trekkers and the Zulus in 1838. But few know there is a Blood River in the Karoo. The search for this place began a while ago when Ronald Shelley of Miami, Florida, wrote to Transnet requesting details of “the Blood River Bridge mentioned in Rudyard Kipling’s Tommy Atkins poem.” Then Eric Conradie, of the Transact Heritage Museum, started to dig. He discovered that Blood River, which still appears on topo-cadastral maps, was first mentioned in 1874 in survey reports from Wells Hood, the engineer who planned the rail route across the Hex River Mountains. By 1890 there was a station and a hotel at the spot, but in 1911 the siding’s name changed to Antjieskraal. So Eric concluded: “Tommy Atkins must have guarded a bridge over the Dwyka River from one of the blockhouses. There are two at Dwyka and one at Letting.” Interestingly enough, Dwyka is the Bushman word for blood. Sven Eklund, who did research into the geology of the area says: “The rock strata here is rich in pyrite and the ferruginous leachate often turns the river water a reddish brown colour. Bushman would have likened this to blood.”


Gedurende die laaste eeu was dit ‘n tradisie op Rosendal, ‘n plaas in Die Gang tussen Prins Albert en Klaarstroom, om ‘n skoot van ‘n ou skeepskanon ag te vuur om die Nuwejaar in te huldig. Tot vroeg in hierdie eeu het die Nuwejaars-skoot elke jaar deur pie Gang weergalm. Die kanon is glo afkomstig van een van die ou Hollands se Oos Indiese Kompanjie se ou skepe, maar wie dit Prins Albert toe gebring het bly ‘n raaisel. Dit was ook gedurende die jaar tydends oestye gebruik om werkers plaas toe te bied. Mettertyd is die oorspronklike Rosendal onderverdeel an nou weet niemand wat van die kanon geword het nie.


In their quiet way there are many people in the Karoo who feel pretty strongly about preserving nature. And should there be any doubt, a lonely artillery piece in the veld spells out the message. A huge sign surmounting the cannon proclaims, “Warning to Poachers. Survivors will be Prosecuted’. “Most of those with less than good intentions take note and stay away.” says Paul McCabe, of the farm St Olives on road from Nieu Bethesda to Murraysburg. “It’s a French-made, 13-pound cannon,” says Mr McCabe, who, as a member of the Natal Mounted Rifles. actually fired a similar cannon in the desert during World War II. “It is so slow, you can stand behind it, watch the shot reach its zenith, descend and crash down in a blood-red flash.” The cannon with its ominous warning is a great tourist attraction, and many amateur photographers have won prizes with pictures of it – some as far afield as Canada. St Olives gets its name from St Olaf’s, the first church built in England by the Norsemen. The farm was named by Mr McCabe’s uncle who came from this parish, and also because there are over 60 000 wild olive trees on the farm. Last year the rector of St Olaf’s paid a visit to his parish’s namesake in the Karoo.


Die jaarlikse Prins Albert reunie vir ou inwoners, gereel deur die Haak gesin, word vanjaar weereens by die Du Toitskloof Hotel gehou. Dit vind op 8 Februarie plaas en sluit in ‘n praatjie oor sy jeugjare in Prins Albert deur Professor Giel Hough. ‘n Vingerete volg en die dag sluit af met ‘n trekkertoer deur die appelboorde op die berg waar besondere inheemse plante, proteas en wild besigtig kan word. Appel-witblits, wyn en appelsap sal op die rit bedien word. Akkomodssie is by Du Toitskloof Oord beskikbaar.