Karoo National Park
On the outskirts of Beaufort West lies the 75 000 ha Karoo National Park. Here two of South Africa’s most highly endangered species, the riverine rabbit and the black rhinoceros, have been successfully resettled. The quagga, which became extinct on August 12, 1883, when the last mare of the species died in the Amsterdam Zoo, is again roaming free in the park. It was recreated from portions of its genetic code present in tissue samples taken from a mounted museum exhibit. The park is also home to a wide variety of indigenous buck, mountain zebra, wild ostrich and five tortoise species, the most in any conservation area in the world. Bird life is abundant. There are martial, booted and black eagles (left) as well as the somewhat shy Cape Eagle owl.
Beaufort West Museum
Beaufort West became the first municipality in South Africa in February, 1837 and had the first town hall in the country. Today this forms part of the museum and houses a magnificent display of awards presented to surgeon Professor Chris Barnard who performed the world’s first heart transplant in 1967.
26 Things To Do In Beaufort West
Cultural heritage, sports, adventure, nature, relaxation - it's all here in Beaufort West. Check our list of 27 things to do in town!
Way back in 1827, David Baird, son of the local magistrate, found the first reptile fossil near the frontier town of Beaufort in the Great Karoo. The little town, renamed Beaufort West in 1869, lay in what became the world’s richest collecting grounds for these fossils. Scientists have since described the Karoo and its fossils as one of the great wonders of the world.
A Walk Around Town
Beaufort West is a typical "platteland" town with a rich, romantic history.
Fine examples of the town’s early architecture can be seen on a comfortable walk through its historic centre. These cover a mixture of flamboyant Victorian, elegant Georgian, serene Edwardian, Eclectic, Romanesque, Cape Dutch, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Classic and Contemporary styles. Examples of typical Karoo cottages still survive. Some of these buildings, the old Town Hall, the old Mission Church and the Barnard House, all now part of the museum, as well as Matoppo House and Clyde House, are national monuments.