Exploring South Africa’s Karoo and Coast

Think South Africa, and you probably picture safari jeeps scouting the Big Five, or a cable car whizzing to the top of Table Mountain. This vast country is full of unforgettable experiences, but there is still so much hidden beauty to discover, far away from the crowds.

It is the little-known Karoo region that has captured our hearts. Vast open landscapes, panoramic views from the top of winding mountain passes, and more wildlife than vehicles or people: the Klein Karoo is truly a Slow Cyclist’s dream. 

This autumn, we asked photographer Chris Joubert to travel to the area with our local guides Jaco and Katja to capture just what makes the Karoo, and its nearby coast, so special. I hope you enjoy his wonderful photos as much as I do.

Prince Albert

This tranquil, historic town in the Groot Karoo is known for its unique mix of architecture, including Victorian and Cape Dutch buildings. Surrounded by soaring mountains, and with exceptional views of the starry skies at night, it’s the perfect starting point for a journey through the Karoo.

The Swartberg Pass

The winding Swartberg Pass in South Africa's Klein Karoo

The mountain passes are a true highlight of the Karoo. The winding roads may look challenging (an e-bike will help with that!) but the sweeping views are worth every pedal. The Swartberg Pass is something special; after climbing through jagged red rock formations, suddenly the view opens out onto lush green farmland. The roads are lined with fynbos – shrubs bursting with colourful flowers unique to South Africa – and the odd buck leaping through the mountains. 

Winding roads through the mountains in South Africa's Klein Karoo

Klein Karoo

Heading into the Klein Karoo, our journey passes through Kammanassie, a nature reserve home to 66 species of bird. It’s still, peaceful and simply beautiful. One of our favourite stops in this area is the delightful Langkloof Gallery and Sculpture Garden. From here, we cycle up into the Outeniqua Mountains and down to the thick forest of Tsitsikamma National Park.

A road rolling through the hills in the Klein Karoo, perfect for cycling on a Slow Cyclist journey

Knysna Forest & the Coastal Belt

Infinity pool at a guest house in South Africa

Based around a lagoon, Knysna sits between dense rainforest and expansive coast. Here, we explore a series of mountain passes and river crossings. Although we’re near the popular Garden Route, you’re unlikely to see many people as we cycle through the forests. Instead, we meet Swartvlei’s local craftspeople and musicians who teach us about the area and its traditions.

If you’ve been inspired to cycle through South Africa’s Karoo, find out more about our journeys in South Africa or enquire now

Views over the water in South Africa, visited on a Slow Cyclist journey

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