The Karoo fall in the Western Cape and is a town that used to be inhabited only by the Khoi and San people way back in the day and was also named by them. The Karoo is divided into two parts namely “Klein Karoo” or in English “Little Karoo” and then also “Great Karoo”. The name Karoo is derived from the word “dry” which suits it very well as the water is not amply available there even in our modern times.
The Karoo is also very well known for its rock art left there by the Khoi and San people decades ago. The Karoo is a site where many archaeologists and scientists love to spend time on research.
It seems that evolution was rampant here and many of these professionals spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out exactly what happened there with the animals and reptiles millions of years ago.
Many people in South Africa have never even seen the Karoo and they are really missing out as this is one of the most beautiful places you will ever come across. You will also feel closer to nature here than in any other place in this country. The stars are as big as rocks at night times and the moon is a huge round ball that feels close enough to touch.
Table of Contents
The weather in the Karoo is very extreme as well.
The summers are blisteringly hot and you almost feel like you are smothered by the heat and humidity. Whereas the winters are amazingly cold and the temperatures drop quite far below zero at times.
The Karoo also has a variety of wildlife for you to enjoy viewing. These are mainly in the Karoo National Park which is also home to the black rhino (which is endangered). In the Karoo, they have many festivals every year which is true to the nature of the people and the region. One of the best events you can go to is the Karoo Carols by Candlelight which is held every year just before Christmas time. Singing out on the plains under the stars is an unforgettable experience.
Places to visit at the Karoo
If you are planning a visit to the Karoo, there are plenty of places to visit and things to do. The Karoo is a South African semi-desert region divided into two 3 main districts; The Great Karoo also known as Die Groot Karoo, The Little Karoo also known as Die Klein Karoo. The Great Karoo is located at the north part, while the Little Karoo is located at the south part. In between these two districts is the Central Karoo in the Western Cape.
Things to do at the Karoo:
Start off your Karoo experience by sleeping at the Camdeboo Cottages located at Graaf Reinet, or the Karoopark Guesthouse. The Camdeboo Cottages is a self-catering guest offering world-renowned Karoo hospitality. If you are looking for a hotel in the Karoo check out karoo1.com or you can see their business listing here.
- Visit the 3 Sisters, which are 3 mountains or “koppies” located between the N12 and the N1. This is a marvellous site to see and a dream for nature photographers.
- For avid river rafters, enjoy river rafting on the Fish River Marathon course The Barak, or the Teebus River. You can also enjoy fly fishing at one of the fish-rich dams
- Tourists are different and there are those who visit places solely for experiencing casinos and trying their luck. The Flamingo Casino is just perfect for those kinds of tourists. The casino is located in Kimberly next to the Kimberly Golf club. Play blackjack, roulette, and slots to your heart’s content. Who knows, you might even win a jackpot while having fun.
- One cannot leave the Karoo without visiting one of the national parks, such as the Tankwa National Park or The Karoo National Park. The Tankwa is based in the heart of the Karoo, between the Cederberg and the Roggeveldberg. This is one of the driest places in the world with various species of birds. The Karoo National Park is a nature and animal photographer’s dream. Come face to face with South Africa’s national animal the springbok. Have a chance to see the eland, the kudu, the meerkat, and the barking gecko in their natural habitat.
- Enjoy a guided tour through the Valley of Desolation or the Umasikaze. If you want to see the way of life of the natives, take a guided township tour.
The natural semi-desert region of the Karoo in South Africa has two sub-divisions, the Great Karoo and Little Karoo. The Great Karoo is in the North and the Little Karoo in the South. Inroads to the Karoo were only made in the 1800s. Before 1800 there were large herds of zebra and antelope among many others. It was during the 19th century that railway roads were built from Worcester into the Karoo. There are many blockhouses that can still be seen in the Great Karoo.
Sheep farming is the economic driver behind the Karoo, there are other forms of agriculture available in places where irrigation is possible. Factors that add economic impact are game farms and tourism.
The Little Karoo was previously known as the Klein Karoo, which is the Afrikaans translation of Little Karoo. The Little Karoo valleys are very fertile and are a lot smaller than the Great Karoo. The Little Karoo was first explored in the 17th century. The farming methods of the Karoo have brought productivity and wealth to the region. The Karoo’s main town is Oudtshoorn.
The Karoo has a tourist attraction in the Karoo National Park. It was founded in 1979 and is a wildlife reserve. The Karoo is located near Beaufort West and is known for its isolation because of it being a semi-desert. Karoo National Park is home to many species of tortoise and desert mammals as well as the Verreaux’s Eagle. It is also home to endangered species of Black Rhino and the Riverine Rabbit.
There have been fossils found in the area dating back as far as 300 million years. The Karoo’s table shaped mountains were created when the area was volcanic, and once the sandstone eroded it is what was left behind.
The Karoo National Park was widely known for the project it had started to bring back an animal that looked and acted like the Quagga, which is extinct. It is called the Quagga project. In 1998 the park released fourteen quaggas like zebras seven years later in 2005, the first foal was born. It is believed that after four generations of breeding a full quagga type will be born.