One wouldn’t expect it, but the arid expanse of the South African Karoo boasts some of the best sheep country in the world. Several of these Karoo farms cater for tourists with bed and breakfast accommodation. Recently the Karoo has hit headlines as plans for fracking have met with vehement and informed opposition by local farmers, residents and environmentalists.
The vast Karoo National Park in the Great Karoo, near Beaufort West is well worth a visit and enjoying the peace and beauty of the karoo flora and fauna will make the visitor to the Karoo question the ethics of fracking. In an arid environmentally sensitive area such as the Karoo, fracking poses risks to the biome and water table that should not be ignored. And it is not only the living environment that needs to be taken into account, thousands of fossils found in the Karoo have added to the world’s archaeological and paleontological data base and many more await discovery in this fossil rich area.
The name ‘Karoo’ comes from the Khoikhoi word ‘karo’ meaning dry and hard, an apt name for this vast and arid inland plateau of Southern Africa. The sparse endemic vegetation is drought resistant and perfectly suited to this arid climate but the soil is very fertile when irrigation is available. The Groot Karoo or Great Karoo is in the northern Cape province up to the Orange River and the Klein Karoo or Little Karoo is in the southwestern Cape bordering Oudtshoorn and the Swartberg mountains.
The Highgate Ostrich Farm, near Oudtshoorn offers a peak into the history and life of a working ostrich farm, with ostrich meat and leather exports replacing the heydays of the lucrative ostrich feather export market. In the early part of the twentieth century many ostrich feather farmers became incredibly wealthy, building ornate ‘feather palaces’ with many of the components and ironwork sourced directly from Europe.
Don’t judge the Karoo by the boring, endless expanse you see from the highway – or you might never see that there is more to the Karoo than meets the jaded highway travellers’ eye.
Taking photographs is similar to placing your memories in a time capsule; this way, you and the people who are important to you will always be able to look back on your life’s many adventures and treasured recollections and, in a sense, relive those moments. Anyone travelling through or living in the Karoo region of South Africa will want to make more than a handful of memories while they are there.
Because The Karoo is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and because there is so much to see, do, and simply marvel at, you will undoubtedly want to take as many photographs as you can so that you can show them to the people you care about and encourage them to visit The Karoo for themselves so that they can experience its beauty.
In spite of all of the advancements in digital photography that are available on digital cameras as well as mobile phones, we frequently find that we are unable to quite capture the sheer visual magnificence that is the Karoo in a single photograph. This is the case even though digital photography is now available on both digital cameras as well as mobile phones. It doesn’t matter how sharp the image is, how high the picture quality is, or how many mega pixels your camera has; a photograph can never quite capture the moment in the way that you want it to. It is possible that an artistic and well-trained eye is required to capture the visual landscape of the Karoo.
Although the typical tourist will want to take pictures at Cape Town’s most popular tourist destinations, such as Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Point, or the incredible Garden Route, some of the most famous and best photographs ever taken of the Karoo are of areas of the city that are experienced on a daily basis by residents. The photographs that have gained the most notoriety are those that depict well-known streets and roads, the scenery, and popular tourist destinations. There is a very small chance that a photograph you take of the Karoo, irrespective of the angle from which it was taken, will not turn out to be stunning.