Skip to main content

The Great Karoo

Powerful feelings affect the mind of the traveller in the Karoo. He ponders the self-sufficiency of nature, the insignificance of Man, the mystery of the universe as he moves across the brown desert in shimmering waves of heat… The Karoo has a breathtaking beauty. A peculiar characteristic of this great inland plateau is that the scenery possesses a primeval solitude and silence… It has the primitive simplicity of a country just come from the hands of the Creator.”
James Byrne, scholar -1897

The Great Karoo is an enchanting vast inland high plateau basin located in central South Africa. This expansive landscape captures the imagination through its stunning sunrises and sunsets, star-filled nights, abundant wildlife, and charming people. The sheer size of the vistas quiets the human spirit and fills it with peace and tranquillity.

For comparison, the overall size of the Karoo is about the size of California with an annual rainfall similar to Montana. It is a semi-desert that is rich with a plethora of flora and fauna. There are more than 9,000 different species of plant and animal life – more than all of Great Briton!

This huge unique geological feature was formed by glaciers. When the ice receded it left lakes and swamps that later teemed with reptiles and amphibians in wet forests as indicated by fossil evidence. There was also volcanic activity on a large scale forming enormous coal deposits that are a backbone of South Africa’s economy.

When Western people arrived in the Karoo in the 1800’s they found native peoples variously referred to as Bushmen, San, Sho, Barwa, Kung, or Khwe. These people were traditionally hunter-gatherers, part of the Khoisan group. But the Karoo was also filled with stunning herds of many kinds of antelope. At times, migratory springbok herds stretched from horizon to horizon. As more settlers arrived gradually sheep became the staple livestock of the Karoo. Even today Karoo Lamb is known far and wide and is considered the best lamb in the world.

The Karoo is a land of wonders with geological diversity, fossils, petroglyphs, native culture, Anglo-Boer War historical sites, colonial towns, immense farms, and tremendous wildlife resources. The antelope still abound in the Karoo providing the traveling hunter and local South Africans with matchless shooting opportunities and delicious meat. Experience the adventure at Jules of the Karoo!