Believed to be derived from the Khoi-Khoi word Garo, meaning “the place of great dryness”, the Karoo is an ancient semi-desert area that covers almost a third of South-Africa. Its endless plains and intriguing rock layers with fossil beds spanning over 600 million years, set the Karoo apart from any other place on earth.
“Met God voor recht
- van der Post,
9 April 1900”
(translated “with God for justice”) reads the Dutch inscription found on one of the rocks on the untouched Joostenberg mountain range to the west of the Eco Karoo Lodge, confirming the rich and diverse history that played out in this semi-desert.
This ancient area is a natural wonder of endless plains and intriguing rock layers. Rich fossil beds, spanning over 600 million years set the Karoo apart from any other place on earth and make it the curator of many secrets of evolution.
The two Viljoen brothers, Klaas and Bert, are the third generation Viljoens on this farm. With an average rainfall of between 50mm and 200mm per year,
“use what you have” is a necessary philosophy.
Taking over from dad Albertus in the early 2000’s, the two Viljoen brothers embraced what this
unique landscape has to offer. They’ve diversified from mainly Dohne merino farming, to include cattle, cotton, potatoes, wheat, game and hunting. Embracing the Karoo, where the skies, the stars, the mountains and the plains all meet, the Eco Karoo Lodge was a natural extension to this farm with its 4200 hectares of unmatched beauty and tranquillity.
Our farms name, Knoffelfontein (translated as : garlic fountain)
- was derived from the abundant wild garlic plant and the only natural spring just behind Eco Karoo Lodge. Dad Albertus grew up with picnics in this small ravine at the foot of the majestic mountains and continued the tradition throughout Klaas and Bert’s childhood. Building Eco Karoo Lodge on this specific spot has deep sentimental value to the Viljoens.
Embracing local craftmenship, the Viljoens set-out constructing the Eco Karoo Lodge utilising local skills, products, equipment and entrepreneurs extensively. From bricks made at a local quarry and sand from a nearby riverbed, to a team of builders, bricklayers, plasterers and stone wallers from all over the Free State, Northern Cape and even Lesotho. The construction was concluded without removing a single
root of Karoo vegetation.
From the taps, lights, lamp shades, doors and beds to the reed awnings, fireplace, gabion walls and even the bar chairs, most of the interior was specifically designed and made by local entrepreneurs for Eco Karoo Lodge. All wood used in the interior came from a 60 year old pine tree that fell during a blistering windstorm a couple of months ago - there is no better designer than nature itself.
The Karoo offers majestic scenery unlike anywhere else on earth - spectacular sunrises, endless horizons, surreal silence and the crisp, distinctive smell of Karoo vegetation. The philosophy with the design was to embrace all of this. Every space, from bedrooms and bathrooms to the living room and kitchen, opens outdoors. All rooms face east over the same plains where theres nothing quite like watching the Sun paint the sky in shades of pink and orange as it kisses the Moon goodnight.
Eco Karoo Lodge is an ideal site for star gazing, mountain climbing, nature trail walking or cycling, bird watching or hunting.
This is the place where you can experience the universe and even yourself a little bit differently.