Karoo Erdvark Trail

Is your soul yearning for a tranquil landscape and wide open skies? Are you looking for a rustic offering of various hike options that people of different fitness levels can enjoy together? Then the Karoo Erdvark Trail in the Karoo might be just the adventure for you.
karoo erdvark trail

This trail takes hikers to the Rooiheuwel Guest Farm, located just a stone’s throw from Beaufort West along the Nuweveld Mountains in the Greater Karoo. Hikers can opt for shorter day trails or commit to the extended five or seven-day hikes. The accommodation varies between tents and established dwellings along this working sheep farm, and hikers also have the option of slackpacking.

If you’re wondering how you’ll manage to keep your meals tasty, lightweight, and convenient, go check out our selection of hiking meals! The Trail Food Co. has a range of meal and snack options to keep your legs powered (and your tummy satisfied) on any hike.

Trust us when we say that this trail will tick countless boxes on any hiker’s list – which is why we’ve put together this handy Ultimate Guide with everything you need to know about the Karoo Erdvark Trail.

endless scenery

The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Karoo Erdvark

Why Should You Choose the Karoo Erdvark Trail?

If you’ve ever been to the Karoo or seen photos of the vast, magical landscapes, you’ll know that you’re in for a massive adventure if you choose a hike in this region. The diverse semi-desert landscape includes mountains, fountains, valleys, and rivers, which means that every day will be both different and stunningly beautiful.

Don’t even get us started on the tranquillity of the area! The Karoo is arid yet generous with the peace it offers. One of the first things you’ll notice here is how quiet it is and how the wide, open skies seem to stretch for miles. And the starry night skies are simply magical!

This unique dry region is one of the largest ecosystems in Southern Africa and a hotspot for a wide variety of succulents. And if you’re lucky, you may see some of the animals endemic to this area while you traverse this network of trails.

Lastly, this trail is also the first Green Flag accredited hiking trail in the Karoo, meaning that these routes focus on sustainability, they get managed responsibly, and the owners are accountable to the environment.

hike karoo erdvark

When To Hike the Karoo Erdvark Trail

The Karoo is a desert, so you should expect to contend with some hellishly warm days if you’re planning your hike during summer. The temperatures usually start to build around November, and the days will remain warm until February. This period is also when the area gets its primary rainfall, which peaks between December and March.

You can expect cooler temperatures in April that will continue to drop during June and July. However, the area can be prone to snowfall until as late as September. If you want ideal temperatures, we think April or October are the best months to hike this trail.

karoo temperatures
hike in the karoo

About the Karoo Erdvark Trail

The Erdvark Trail offers a multitude of trail options! Here are the highlights of what you can expect from this selection of trails.

The trail distances vary from only a few kilometres to more than 70km over the longer trails.

You can go on leisurely hikes for the day, or you can opt to go on the five-day or seven-day trail options.

The lowest rated trail is moderate, while the highest rating suggests that it’s only for those who are fit and that there are various heights. Keep in mind that the terrain is rocky.

The short, day trails are suitable for most fitness levels, while the multiday hikes are better suited to those with moderate to good fitness.

A maximum of 12 people are allowed on the 5 and 7 day hike routes.

There is no minimum or maximum age limit for hiking the Karoo Erdvark trails – however people should attempt to use their common sense and stick to the trails that are suitable to them and those hiking with them.

Hikers can carry their own backpacks with food and gear, or you can choose the slackpack option.

There are a variety of accommodation options.

There’s a traditional Karoo farmhouse, chalets, a large farm shed ideal for large groups or hikers on a budget, and tents.

Grootdroom, Bloubos, and Boplaas are all fully equipped and have four bedrooms with showers, baths, and toilets.

Beaufort West – approximately 80kms from the farm.

Beaufort West Hospital – approximately one hour’s drive.

George Airport – approximately 3:30 hours’ drive from the farm. If you plan to fly to Cape Town, you can follow the N1 to Beaufort West. The drive will take about seven hours.

karoo erdvark waterfall
hike the karoo

The Karoo Erdvark Trail Route

The Erdvark Trail offers various circular hikes for those who just want to immerse themselves in the landscape for a few hours.

Here’s a look at all the available routes on the Karoo Erdvark.

  • Knoffelfontein: 2km
  • Dripval: 2.3km/2.6km
  • Donkerhoekfontein: 4.2km
  • Doringleegte: 5.1km
  • Vanghok: 5.2km
  • Bulhoek: 5.83km
  • Rivier: 6.2km
  • Piekniekval: 6.3km
  • Donkerhoek: 8.34km
  • Rooiberg: 8.45km/12.79km
  • Aar: 8.9km
  • Tafelkop-Boplaas: 13.31km/10km
  • Tafelkop-Grootdroom: 14.4km/18.9km/17.4km

Stay at Grootdroom and walk all or any of these trails.

  • Knoffelfontein: 2km
  • Dripval: 2.3km/2.6km
  • Donkerhoekfontein: 4.2km
  • Doringleegte: 5.1km
  • Donkerhoek: 8.34km
  • Tafelkop-Grootdroom: 14.4km/18.9km/17.4km

Stay at Boplaas and from here you can hike 4 different days of trails in a daisy-chain formation.

  • Day 1 – Tafelkop Trail: 13.31km
  • Day 1 – Tafelkop Trail Shortcut: 10.1km
  • Day 2 – Aar Trail: 8.9km
  • Day 3 – Piekniekval Trail: 6.24km
  • Day 4 – Bulhoek Trail: 5.83km

The Tafelkop and Die Aar routes are more suited to serious hikers.

The Picnic and Bulhoek Trails are better suited to older hikers and/or families.

The Tafelkop Shortcut is easier in that you don’t hike over the top of the Tafelkop, you just hike straight on the trail at the base.

  • Day 1 – Boplaas to Middelplaas: 12.9km (sleep at Bloubos chalet)
  • Day 2 – Middelplaas to Arendsnes: 9.8km (camping in tents, no toilets. Firewood, water, and braai grid provided)
  • Day 3 – Arendsnes to Rietvlei: 15.44km (overnight in an old farm school building)
  • Day 4 – Rietvlei to Grootdroom: 15.3km (sleeping over at the Grootdroom mountain chalet)
  • Day 5 – Grootdroom to Boplaas (stay over at Boplaas): 12.8km/14.3km
  • Day 1 – Boplaas to Middelplaas: 12.9km (sleep at Bloubos chalet)
  • Day 2 – Middelplaas to Arendsnes: 9.8km (camping in tents, no toilets. Firewood, water, and braai grid provided)
  • Day 3 – Arendsnes to Rietvlei: 15.44km (overnight in an old farm school building)
  • Day 4 – Rietvlei to Grootdroom: 15.3km (sleeping over at the Grootdroom mountain chalet)
  • Day 5 – remain at Grootdroom: 8.3km circular Donkerhoek trail
  • Day 6 – Grootdroom to Boplaas (stay over at Boplaas): 12.8km/14.3km
  • Day 7 – Remain at Boplaas: 8.9km Aar circular trail

Alternatively, if you want to start a little slower, add the Aar circular route to the beginning of your 7-day hike instead of the end.

  • Day 1 – Stay at Boplaas: 8.9km Aar circular trail
  • Day 2 – Boplaas to Middelplaas: 12.9km (sleep at Bloubos chalet)
  • Day 3 – Middelplaas to Arendsnes: 9.8km (camping in tents, no toilets. Firewood, water, and braai grid provided)
  • Day 4 – Arendsnes to Rietvlei: 15.44km (overnight in an old farm school building)
  • Day 5 – Rietvlei to Grootdroom: 15.3km (sleeping over at the Grootdroom mountain chalet)
  • Day 6 – remain at Grootdroom: 8.3km circular Donkerhoek trail
  • Day 7 – Grootdroom to Boplaas (stay over at Boplaas): 12.8km/14.3km

Current Cost To Hike the Erdvark Trail

The Rooiheuwel Guest Farm’s latest available rates for the Erdvark Trail are R240 per person, per day. This price includes all your accommodation and the hike or hikes that you choose.

All chalets are fully-equipped and even the tents come with mattresses and pillows which is a real win!

As an example, 6 people hiking the 5-night route without the slackpacking option would cost R7,200 in total or R1,200 per person for all 5 nights.

Slackpacking Rates

The terrain and roads are tough, and the organisers charge a set rate per hiking group to transport your kit.

5-day slackpacking rate = R2600 + the per person per night rate above.

  • E.g. Total cost for 4 hikers slackpacking = R2600 + [(4 pax x R240) x 5 nights] = R7400 total or R1,850 per person

7-day slackpacking rate = R3640 + the per person per night rate above.

  • E.g. Total cost for 6 hikers slackpacking = R3640 + [(6 x R240) x 7 nights] = R13,720 total or R2,287 per person

How To Book

Get in touch with the owner of the Rooiheuwel Guest Farm, Marge Vivier on 

Email: [email protected] or Phone: +27 (0)23 412 1669.

Or contact Kobus on cell phone: +27 (0)83 390 2828.

karoo erdvark hike

What To Pack for the Karoo Erdvark Trail

All hikes require quite a lot of planning. Use this handy checklist to see what you’ll need to have the best time on the Erdvark.

  • Backpack
  • Water bottle or hydration pack
  • A sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag inner or liner
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Tent (you can rent these from the organisers on a first-come, first-serve basis)
  • Groundsheet

All of the chalets are fully equipped but if you think you might want to brew yourself a cup of tea whilst on your hike then best to bring along at least one pot and stove to share.

  • Comfortable hiking boots with ankle support
  • Flip-flops
  • Fleece or thermal shirt
  • Hiking shirts (consider thermal fabrics)
  • Hiking shorts
  • Hiking pants
  • Down jacket in cold weather
  • Underwear
  • Rain gear if you’re hiking during the rain season
  • Hiking socks
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Muscle rub
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
  • Vaseline to treat blisters
  • Plasters
  • Sterile gauze
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Rehidrat sachets
  • Anti-nausea tablets
  • Stomach tablets
  • Rehydrate mix
  • Camping towel
  • Travel soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Eco-friendly toothpaste or bicarbonate-of-soda
  • Eco-friendly sunscreen
  • Hiking poles
  • Camera (and extra batteries)
  • Cable ties and duct tape

How To Pack For the Karoo Erdvark Trail

As mentioned, the terrain you’ll travel on will be rough, so it will be best to travel as light as possible. Ensure that your backpack weighs about a quarter or a third of your body weight, and share items like stoves, pots, and a first aid kit with other hikers in your group.

Plan and measure your hiking meals and make sure that they are lightweight. Our selection of Trail Food Company meals will take your breath away, and you’ll be able to eat nutritious, convenient meals every day!

Instead of taking full-sized toiletries, try to decant just the right amount or get the items (like toothpaste, soap, sunblock) in travel-sized containers.

Ultimately, try your best to stick to packing essentials. Read our recent article if you need some tips on how to pack a backpack.

Don’t Forget To

There’s an indemnity form you need to fill out before you set out on the hike. Also, remember to write down the owner or the manager’s number before you start your trail in the event of an emergency.

Pro Tips

Remember these two golden rules:

  • Safety first and never hike alone. Ensure that you always walk in a group of at least two to four people. A group of four hikers is safer than a group of two hikers because if there is an emergency, one hiker can stay behind with the injured person while the other two can set out to seek help.
  • One of the most common hiking challenges people run into is getting lost. Don’t panic and start hiking in any direction. Instead, stop and try to find the last marker you came across. Then, retrace your steps and start looking for the trail marker you missed.

FAQs

Do you still have questions about hiking the Karoo Erdvark Trail? Take a look at these frequently asked questions about the hike.

The difficulty of the Karoo Erdvark Trail depends on the route you choose.

Some hikers mention that this trail is challenging and not for the faint of heart since the terrain is rocky and you will encounter heights.

However, there are many short trails that people of varying fitness levels can enjoy.

If you’re set on backpacking, you’ll have to carry your food, clothes, and some gear on the Erdvark Trail.

However, the organisers do offer a slackpacking option that comes at an additional charge.

Before You Go

Are you ready for the ultimate Karoo hike?

The Karoo Erdvark Trail will embrace you in solitude, and the magic of the landscape will give you an abundance of scenic memories to treasure.

If you want to order a curated supply of hiking food for the Karoo Erdvark Trail, get in touch with The Trail Food Company about our packs (we deliver anywhere in South Africa).

Happy hiking!

Karoo Erdvark Map

karoo erdvark map

Have you hiked this trail?

Have you been on the Karoo Erdvark Trail?

Send us your stories and photos for a chance to get featured on our site!

A big thank you to Marge Vivier, Wouter Jordaan and Maggie Joubert for photographs and information.

If  you have an epic hike or trail to share, or if there are any corrections or updates that you would like to suggest to this trail guide, please email

trish(at)trailfood.co.za

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