With a central location and 110km of railway lines, De Aar is the second most important railway junction in South Africa; connecting Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Rock art, museums, paragliding, nature trails, and stargazing make De Aar an ideal stop-over on your travels through the Northern Cape. Browse our listing to find the perfect guest house or B&B for you.
De Aar is a Dutch word meaning “arteryâ€. It refers to the underground watercourse that is literally the life blood of the otherwise arid region. De Aar’s central location has seen it grow from a farm into the third largest town in the Northern Cape. Excellent rail and road links make it the primary commercial distribution centre for a large area of the central Great Karoo.
Major industries include wool production and livestock farming. De Aar is famous for its uniquely flavoured Karoo mutton and is growing as the country’s major supply centre. It hosts the annual Central Karoo Show, which is held during January/February and draws entries from across South Africa. Hunting is also popular in the area.
For a cultural experience, visit the Nooitgedacht, Brandfontein, and Damfontein farms to see excellent examples of rock art engravings by the nomadic Khoisan people. The unique rock gongs (rocks that make a pleasant reverberating sound when struck) at Keurfontein near Vosburg, and Thomas’ Farm near Hopetown, are also a great find.
The Garden of Remembrance commemorates the British soldiers who died during the Angle-Boer War. Memorials, memorabilia, and constructions from the war can be found throughout the region. The N12 Battlefields Route highlights the best marked and most accessible of these. Tourists can also visit the house of Olive Schreiner, the famous South African feminist and author of "Women and Labour". She lived in De Aar and her house in Grundlingh has been converted to a museum and restaurant.
The Paragliding School offers a thrilling bird’s eye view of the landscape and hosts regular events that attract both local and international paragliders. The conditions are ideal and, to date, more than half of the world’s long-distance records have been set in De Aar.
The Karoo Gariep Conservancy is less than an hour away and is home to a variety of wildlife and birdlife. In Quenna, Karoo means “dry and hardâ€ and Gariep means “big waterâ€. The conservancy lies on the Karoo “dry and hardâ€ side of the Gariep “big riverâ€. As its name suggests, it’s a naturally diverse area and the only place where you will find hippos in the Karoo. It is a malaria free zone where you can enjoy day and night drives in search of white rhino, Cape buffalo, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, and flocks of up to 300 Blue Crane. The crystal clear skies are ideal for stargazing and the mountains boast 100km of mountain biking trails. Other day trips can be made to Vanderkloof Dam, Doornkloof Nature Reserve, and Rolfontein Nature Reserve, all approximately 2 hours away.
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