town in the Western Cape, South Africa

Beaufort West is a town in the Western Cape province in South Africa. Beaufort West sits next door to the Karoo National Park. It is the north-easternmost town in the Great Karoo. The town is a transport hub that offers shopping opportunities for the surrounding farms, which mainly raise Merino sheep and goats.



Beaufort West was the first town to be established in the central Karoo. The town was founded in 1818 as "Beaufort" after Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort, who was the father of Lord Charles Henry Somerset, then governor of the Cape Colony. The town was renamed "Beaufort West" in 1869 to avoid confusion with Port Beaufort in the Western Cape and with Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape.

The town became prosperous with the introduction of Saxon Merino sheep. One of those who first farmed them, John Molteno, was a young Anglo-Italian immigrant who then founded the town's first bank in 1854 and went on to become the first Prime Minister of the Cape. Beaufort West became the first municipality in South Africa on 3 February 1837 and had the country's first town hall. When the railway reached the town in 1880 it became a marshalling yard and locomotive depot and today it is the largest town in the Karoo.

In 2011, it was home to 34,000 people.

Get in


Get around

Dutch Reformed Church
  • 1 Dutch Reformed Church, 1 Church St, +27 23 414 2351.    

Visit the Karoo National Park.





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