Karoo. The name has something magical about it. It is a vast semi-desert in the southern part of South Africa. The name is believed to be derived from the ancient Khoikhoi language word “garo” which means “land of thirst”. The first white people crossing the Karoo in the early 1800’s described it as “a frightening place of great heat, great frosts, great floods and great droughts”. What makes the Karoo even more mythical is the fact that there is no exact definition of its borders, or its extent. It “fades gradually and almost imperceptibly into the arid Bushmanland towards the north-west, and to the north and north-east it fades into the savannah and grasslands of Griqualand West and the Highveld”.
Today, the Karoo is known as a place of vast open spaces, blue skies, craggy mountains, never-ending roads and stars so bright it feels like you can touch them. It has been compared to the Australian outback, and the Texan desert. Small dorpies (villages) and large sheep farms sparsely dot the landscape. It is a great place for a roadtrip and this is exactly what we will be doing during the next few days.
Our slow journey through the Karoo will take us across three provinces: into to the sparsely populated central parts; to the aptly named Valley of Desolation; to a beautiful game reserve and to many little dorpies along the way. We are going to explore the nature and food of the area, and hope to meet many interesting people along the way. Our hosts will be Bloemhof Karoo outside Richmond in the Northern Cape; Samara Private Game Reserve in the Graaf-Reinet area of the Eastern Cape; and Karoo Rust in the quaint Western Cape village of Prince Albert.
Many stories about this magical place to come!