The Karoo

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The Karoo, South Africa

It seems hard to define what constitutes “the Karoo” exactly. It’s a rather loose concept, and many people seem to have their own idea of what defines “the Karoo”. The Karoo is a collection of ideas, cultural and artistic expressions, cold and hot weather extremes, spectacular night skies, smells, a way of life, unique natural vegetation, the occasional fossil, wind pumps and sheep, a road trip and a common heritage. Or is it?

For the early settlers and adventurers, the Karoo was a dangerous, desert-like hell of life-threatening drought and heat, but also extreme cold, separating Cape Town from the northern Highveld. Over the years, however, farms have managed to develop into small and bigger towns – mainly around underground water accessed by boreholes – all over the Karoo. The hard living conditions – a constant battle with heat, drought and cold – have led to a specific “Karoo culture”, a culture of immense respect for nature, her powers and her beauty, a gratitude for the fruits of nature which enable survival, and a unique fauna and flora, to be found nowhere else in the world.

The Little Karoo – separated from the Great Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain Pass – is a hybrid introduction to the real deal, and is easy to explore via the scenic R62 road from Robertson to Oudtshoorn. Here, through the little towns of Montague, Barrydale, Ladismith and Calitzdorp, you will find vineyards and fruit orchards interwoven with wide, arid and deserted planes, and views of the Great Karoo.

The Great Karoo stretches over a vast area from the West Coast in the West to Lesotho in the East, from Namibia in the North to near the Southern Cape in the South.

Map of the Karoo, South Africa


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