• Karoo, South Africa

Highlights and main attractions of Karoo

Highlights and main attractions of Karoo

The Karoo is the name of the semi-arid expanse region that comprises the bulk of South Africa, once a forbidding and barren area covering in excess of 100,000 miles, divided into two broad regions: Little (Klein) Karoo and Great Karoo, which overlap the Eastern and Western Capes. The rugged, mountainous and arid appearance contrasts markedly from the luscious greenery of the Garden Route further south, and the region comprises three biomes - succulent Karoo, Cape Thicket and Fynbos.

Where is Karoo?

Location and Activities

The area known as Little (Klein) Karoo has a reputation for its friendly locals and renowned hospitality and it can make a great inland stop to, from or even during a visit to the Garden Route. Flanked by the imposing Swartberg mountain range on one side and the Garden Route on the other, the region is also sheltered from the wind and has an agreeable climate that makes it a popular place. Oudtshoorn sits at its centre, midway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Forming part of the Klein Karoo, the largest town in the region, Oudtshoorn, enjoys South Africa’s highest number of sunny days and also has the largest population of ostriches in the world, as this was once the centre of the Ostrich farming industry due to the Victorian trend for ostrich feathers and ostrich meat itself. A visit to one of the many farms is a must while you are here, as it is part of a long local tradition.

Three spectacular mountain passes link the Swartberg range to the world beyond, and the Cango Caves are also set here. 

The Great Karoo is a far more desolate and semi-arid landscape stretching as far north as Kruger across endless plains and blue mountains, a place of endless tranquillity and an apt representation of the literal meaning of Karoo or Karusa, a Khoi word meaning dry, barren, thirstland.

The Swartberg Mountains are a main highlight of the region and are some of South Africa's most scenically beautiful, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, bird-watching and mountain-biking, as well as being the perfect relaxation spot.

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