This town in the north-east of the Western Cape in the heart of the Great Karoo, was founded in 1818 by the Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset, to establish and maintain order in the hinterland. He named the town after his father, the fifth Duke of Beaufort.
The real touristic highlight of Beaufort West is the Karoo National Park, 10 kilometres outside of town. The nature and game park was established in 1979 and now it protects 80.000 hectares of grandiose Karoo landscape with the original vegetation and wildlife for example: buffalo, rhino, mountain Zebra, caracle and Black Eagle. Beautiful hiking trails lead through the park, or one can just take the car for safari drives. An interesting must-see, is the Fossile Path, because the area is very rich in palaeontological findings, actually being one of the richest stone-age sites in the world.
More information and accommodation to be found on the blue INFO page.
Beaufort West gets its main income from providing for the surrounding farms. It is a major traffic junction: here, the two traffic axles N1, Cape Town - Johannesburg, and N 12 from the Garden Route meet. As a result, the Main Road is lined with hotels.
The town has a number of interesting historical buildings. The "Stadshuis" is worth a visit, an old townhall from 1867 in Donkin Street. Today this snow-white painted house is a museum, which is predominantly dedicated to the town's most famous son, Professor Chris Barnard. About a thousand exhibits illustrate the history of the Barnard family and the world's first heart transplantation.
Photo left: Beaufort West. Top right: Stadshuis. Centre right: Karoo Park. Bottom: Main Street.