What is Karoo and where it is?

Not everything is savannah and safaris in South Africa, and that is precisely the charm of the South African kaleidoscope. There are also rain forest, mountains where it occasionally snows and semi-desert climates and landscapes. The latter defines the Karoo zone. An extensive area more or less located in the center of the country that is characterized by dry and scarce vegetation, rocky terrain and red soil on many occasions.

Karoo is the unappreciated jewel in the crown. And I say this because it is often forgotten on the maps of international travelers. But not for the locals, who love to travel around their country and appreciate what they have.

The international traveler often focuses on the southern area around Cape Town, the Garden Route and the Wine Route, and the northeast area where most of the savannah and KNP are concentrated. But if you decide to do a route trip through the country, and get the most of it, it is almost obligatory to see, even if only part of it, the charm of the Karoo and we explain below why.

The beautiful Karoo

Karoo is a contrast of deep valleys, endless plains, and rocky mountains rising majestically. It is bleak and beautiful at the same time, a spectacle of nature with a lot of character. Charming little towns and centuries-old farms make up its scenary. With a history and architecture that undoubtedly transport you immediately to the past, where tradition and home made prevail.

enseñar el pasaje del Karoo

Luckily for the traveler, many of these majestic houses and farms are nowadays accommodation and hotels, almost living museums where you can admire and learn another different history of the country that we do not usually associate with South Africa. In Sourth Africa Kaleidoscope we help you to organize your trip and bookings.

And what about the sunsets here, which have nothing to envy at the sunsets in Cape Town or in Kruger, which I warn you alredy, are spectacular also.

In addition, its gastronomy is different and predominantly slow-cooked dishes, more elaborate with products of the own harvest or local. It’s like traveling to grandma’s house.


Two curious facts to finish today’s post. The first is that the word Karoo comes from another word Khoisan (one of the 11 official languages of South Africa) which means “dry or arid” or “without rain”. So the ancestors of the place already gave us clues of what we were going to find in this area.

The second curious fact is that many of these centuries-old farms that we mentioned, were the first settlements of the white man to spread throughout the country. Many of them relatives or direct descendants of the first Dutch who settled first in the Cape of Good Hope and what would later be Cape Town.

Some of my tips for your Karoo tour

My Tip: Add a visit to the Karoo National Park, it will be an incredible experience to live the so different scenarios that the country has to offer. You will be able to observe the different fauna and flora of the area and compare it, for example, with the savannah. One of the best ways is to take a guided walking tour, it is about R250 per person (about 16 ? or 17 ?) and it is quite accessible for everyone.

My Tip: Visiting the Valley of Desolation in Camdeboo National Park is another way to see a real geographical phenomenon of Karoo. There are several routes of more or less distance to do walking around the valley, and the views from the top are really worth it.

My Tip: Stop refueling even if you think you don’t really need it. Some of the roads in the Karoo seem endless. And sometimes you’ll hardly find any gas stations on long stretches of drive, better safe than sorry.

My Tip: Keep in mind that the climate of Karoo is desert. It is quite hot during the day. But at night the temperatures drop considerably. For more advice read What do I get?

My Tip: One of the most mysterious, surprising and charming towns, that I have visited, 100% recommended, is Nieu-Bethesda, include it on your route trip, it will not disappoint you.

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