The Great Karoo Super Circuit

Posted by Jan Braai on 16 July 2013

When leaving Cape Town on the N1(read: Going slowly up the N1-South Africa’s spine), I always like to stop for a breakfast of toasted cheese and a coffee at the Winelands 1-Stop. But roughly two hours later when I turned left onto the R354 towards Sutherland, my stomach was already roaring with excitement for what was to come in the next week.

My plan was to visit some towns in the Great Karoo I’d never been to and naturally braai a lot of lamb. Over the course of the week, I braaied lamb chops, made shepherd’s pie from leftover lamb chops and cooked a few different lamb curry potjies – even the local boerewors contains a bit of lamb meat.

From Sutherland (which is every bit as cold as they say), I drove through Fraserburg to Williston. Somewhere on a back road between the two is Langbaken Karoo Cheese, but phone before you visit this farm (I struggled to find the place even with directions, and if you call 082-550-4981 at least farmer Peter can launch a search party when you fail to arrive). After filling up with cheese, continue to Williston and book in at the Williston Mall (tel 053-391-3659), which isn’t a mall at all, but a living piece of art that falls somewhere between being a backpackers and a museum.

From this ‘bustling’ town, I drove to Carnarvon, where I recommend you book into the Lord Carnarvon Guest House (tel 082- 780-4209) and go for dinner at De Meerkat (tel 053-382-4651). The local speciality is a ‘smiley’ (sheep’s head) baked in the pizza oven, but they also have various other great meals. Pieter (at the Lord Carnarvon) or his mother will sort you out with breakfast the next morning.

An easy hour on tar road gets you to Loxton, which is where Lemmer, the fictional character in some of Deon Meyer’s books, resides, and home to his favourite local hangout: Die Rooi Granaat coffee shop and deli (it’s on the corner of Jooste and Beaufort streets across the road from the church and impossible to miss).

After refuelling on coffee, buy meat (lamb, of course) at the deli and head to Jakhalsdans (the farm – visit where part of Jakhalsdans (the movie) was filmed. Spend the night in the old farm house and do one of the most bizarre things you’ll ever do: water-ski in the Karoo semi-desert. The Great Karoo Ski Club is on a huge dam on the farm, quite out of character for the area but a beautiful oasis in an otherwise barren landscape. (Book through Jakhalsdans farm; it’s also open to day visitors.)

It may come as no surpise that the trip ended as it had started: with food. The menu for the final braai of the Great Karoo Super Circuit consisted of lamb loin chops cooked on the stoep of a cottage in Karoo National Park just outside Beaufort West ; a fair end to a fine week.

Photos by Stephanus Rabie.

Photo by Stephanus Rabie.

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