What Is the Karoo National Park?

Amber Eberle

The Karoo National Park is a part of the national parks system of South Africa. The park is a wildlife reserve and is home to many animal and plant species. It is about 310 miles (500 km) north of Cape Town and 621 miles (1,000 km) south of Johannesburg. Karoo National Park consists of semi-desert plains surrounded by mountains, and it receives an average of 10.2 inches (25.9 cm) of rain each year.

Karoo Nationa Park is located in South Africa.
Karoo Nationa Park is located in South Africa.

In the 1970s, the South African National Parks decided to form a national park and wildlife reserve in the area of the Great Karoo. This is a semi-desert area of South Africa that is rich in fossils and geological formations dating back about 250 million years. Land was donated by the town of Beaufort West, and additional land in the area was later purchased and given to the national parks system. The Karoo National Park became an officially established national park in 1979.

Karoo National Park is north of Cape Town, South Africa.
Karoo National Park is north of Cape Town, South Africa.

The park is home to a wide variety of animal species. South African officials have successfully reintroduced both the black rhinoceros and the riverine rabbit, two very endangered species, into the park's ecosystem. Large mammals such as the kudu, springbok, klipspringer, eland and red hartebeest are abundant in the park. So are the black wildebeest and two different types of zebra.

Many species of birds and reptiles also live in the park. The most notable reptiles are five species of tortoises that are found in high concentration. There also are 18 species of snakes that live in the area. A large population of birds live with in the park, including the yellow-bellied eremomola, acacia pied barbet, cape robin-chat and black eagle.

Features for visitors to Karoo National Park include a number of paved driving trails and hiking trails, a fossil trail displaying genuine fossils found in the area and a picnic area with a swimming pool. Guided walking tours are offered free of charge, and guided game-viewing drives are available for a fee. The drives also can be taken in a visitor's own vehicle, without a guide.

The park offers accommodations for visitors who want to stay overnight. At the main camp, there are many Dutch-style units that can sleep a single visitor or a whole family. Bedding, towels, soap and a daily breakfast are provided to those who are staying at the rest camp. Karoo National Park also has camping sites with communal bathrooms and kitchen facilities.

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