The Karoo: the restorative power of silence

04.08.23 02:54 PM Comment(s)
The beauty of the Karoo is inarguable. It is a vast landscape full of shadows and subtle colours, comprising plains, valleys and hills covered in the famous semi-arid scrub vegetation. The Karoo looms; it is so old that one is overwhelmed by its size and silence, its ancient story, and its sense of implacable durability. Nothing here has changed in eons – and you are aware that centuries from now, the stoic silence will remain exactly as you experience it today.

As many people have come to the Karoo for solace as have come for adventure. The Karoo is one of the world’s oldest deserts and carries its history branded in every rock, across endless flat plains and gentle valleys. But no matter the reason for your visit to the Karoo, you will be infused with its tranquility, stillness, and extraordinary ability to calm the soul. Whatever you feel when you arrive, you will feel differently when you leave.

Facts about what makes the Karoo special
  • The South African Karoo spreads over 400 000 square kilometers, making it slightly bigger than Germany.
  • The Karoo is home to the largest variety of succulents on earth. Here you can find the richest desert floras in the world, and 40% of these species are not found anywhere else on earth.
  • The name Karoo is thought to have come from a Khoi word of uncertain meaning but is popularly thought to mean Land of Thirst.
  • There are over 100 Karoo towns, settlements, and villages, a few thousand farms, and around one million people living in the Karoo.
  • Everything in this dry, dusty land depends on underground aquifers. Wind pumps first introduced in 1874, raised groundwater and made the development of permanent farms and towns in the Karoo possible.
  • Sheep farms create a grid network across the flat plains, supplying South Africa with a third of its red meat needs, much of it of world-class standards.
  • Underpinning the Karoo’s economy are millions of sheep, including valuable Merinos, providing 60% of the world’s mohair production.
  • Agriculture is diversifying to include crops like maize, and new ventures into pomegranates, olives, pecan nuts, walnuts, berries, and A-grade lucerne. Game farming is increasing in popularity annually.
  • And solar and wind power operations are forging ahead in the sunny vistas of the Karoo, utilising the best of the flat landscapes and sunshine.
  • The Karoo is renowned for its fossils. Eons before man, dinosaurs roamed what was once an immense swampland, and today bits of ancient bone still draw their marks in the dusty soil.
  • Generally clear skies, star observatories in Sutherland, and the world’s largest radio telescope developed near Carnarvon, have brought cutting-edge technology to the Karoo, developing ever-new knowledge about the mysteries of our universe.

Bring your life back to balance

But above all, the Karoo night sky is one of its major attractions. From the original inhabitants of the Karoo, the Bushmen comes the wonderful legend that the stars ‘sing’ at night. No one can hear that vast celestial sigh and not be moved to awe and wonder at the harmony of the universe as it nightly sets itself on a twinkling display.   

The flat-topped mountains in the Karoo, called ‘koppies’ offer superlative vistas when you are on a hiking trail – especially under the moon. They rise up in almost symmetrical mounds across the landscape, creating intriguing basins and flatlands, and a timeless panorama of peaceful solitude.   

Sometimes, whether you are walking or camping out with a cup of welcome coffee in your hand, you will enjoy a sense of freedom you might never have experienced before. You will become aware of a moment caught in time – a moment when you will hear the heartbeat of the desert, a quiet pulse older than all of human history.

For real rest, rebalancing, and revitalisation – there is no better place than the Karoo. Whether you set off on a hiking trail, camping trip, or exploratory drive – you can’t beat the serenity and sobering perspective of the Karoo. For true harmony of the soul, forget those packed beaches and neon nightclubs – make the Karoo your next revival destination!

Heuningland: African & Karoo tours to stir the heart and lift the soul

We are proudly South African and have a fervent love of the Great Karoo, its people and its unique vegetation and animals. We are passionate conservationists of nature and would like to share our knowledge acquired through years of travel and touring experience. We are therefore able to offer custom-designed and distinctively different tour options:
  • Hiking/camping trails or guided self-driving tours through the ancient landscape of the Karoo.
  • Tailor-made safaris to any destination in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana.

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