Graaff Reinet & Nieu Bethesda Palaeontology Route
Graaff Reinet & Nieu Bethesda Palaeontology Route

Palaeontology Route


Palaeontology Route Information

A story under every stone…..

It is almost impossible to believe the dry land of the Karoo was once a vast inland sea. This, along with the Karoo being as old as time, has resulted in many palaeontological discoveries, especially in the surroundings areas of Graaff-Reinet and Nieu Bethesda. Renowned palaeontologist, Andrew Geddes Bain, lived in the area from 1822 and it was here that he discovered the fossil of a large jaw filled with teeth which he named the “Blinkwater Monster”. The fossils found in this area have revealed much of the story of our land since it emerged from the Ice Age around 250 Million years ago.

Karoo fossils have a largely unbroken 50-million-year fossil record, covering a period from 240 to 190 million years ago, showing the evolutionary pathways and patterns of different animal groups through time.

One can also take day trips to fossil farms in the area where you will be able to observe evolution patterns both through a visit to the San rock-art located in caves on the farms and to fossil sites.

An extensive collection of fossils collected over a period of 18 years is displayed in the Old Library Museum in Graaff-Reinet, drawing the attention of scientists and the curious from around the world. Fossils can also be seen in the Graaff-Reinet Tourism Office, at the Kitching Fossil Centre in Nieu Bethesda and at Ganora Guest Farm and Wellwood Farm close to Nieu Bethesda. Bushman rock art can be seen at Ganora Guest Farm.

Take the time to discover the abundant historical and scientific evidence of early life in the Plains of Camdeboo.



Palaeontology Route Map


Palaeontology Route Points of Interest

  • The Ganora Fossil Museum in Nieu Bethesda was registered in 1998 and, although small, houses mainly the finds we have made on Ganora. The fossils we exhibit are on average about 280 million years old. That was in the time when reptiles roamed the...
    Phone: 049 841 1302
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  • An original collection of family history; this is an impressive collection of artefacts of the past. The farm has been in the same family for 5 generations and is a trove of information.
    Phone: 071 8688146
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  • While limited privately sponsored library facilities were available in Graaff-Reinet from about 1818, it was not until 1847 that the citizens of the town established a public library, subscribing funds to build the central building in Church Street.
    Phone: 049 892 3801
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  • The fossil collection that was started by Dr. Sydney Rubidge is the pride and joy of Wellwood and is housed in a building on the farm. While the Karoo can boast many attractions, this is one that should not be missed.
    Phone: 049 840 0302
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  • A visit to the Fossil Exploration Centre will be a journey back in time to a world with unfamiliar plants and animals. There are life-size models of prehistoric animals that roamed the area and illustrations of the landscape without grasses,...
    Phone: 049 892 4248
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