From the pure silence of a sheep farm to the bustle of a book festival, from a traditional Sunday lunch in a Victorian-era town to a strictly non-traditional Saturday night cabaret, and from a daisy extravaganza to a dance in the dust, the Great Karoo offers a grand, if offbeat, South African overland experience.
Spanning nearly 400 000km2 in the geographic midriff of South Africa, the Great Karoo must be one of the quietest places on Earth. It is a place of immense spaces, wide-angle horizons, craggy mountain ranges, conical hills, an ancient inland seabed, and a sky so big that at night it feels like you can touch the stars.
The Great Karoo stands proudly with other desert tourism regions like the Australian Outback and Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, and makes for a memorable road-trip. It seems you could travel for months in and about the towns of the Great Karoo and have a different experience in each one.
Share a traditional Karoo supper in the Victoria Manor Hotel in Cradock, where you can also watch the supremely fit canoe paddlers compete in the Fish River Canoe Marathon.
Enjoy a Saturday night cabaret in the Karoo Theatrical Hotel outside the mohair town of Steytlerville, and be entertained by a concert pianist and an exotic singer named Dame Leyla Lamborghini.
Sit with astronomers on a hill outside Sutherland, home of the Southern African Large Telescope, and relish the heavens above.
Hear all about the endangered riverine rabbit in Loxton, join the Nama Riel dancers at the Williston Festival in the Upper Karoo, and drive to Calvinia to catch the seasonal display of spring daisies, perhaps the greatest free show on Earth.
Have a sundowner with your favourite person at a spot overlooking Graaff-Reinet and the Valley of Desolation, giving you an eagle’s-eye view of the vastness of the Karoo.
Go fossil-fossicking in the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West and antique-chasing in a specialty store in Willowmore before entering the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, famous for its mountainous, rugged terrain and adventure tourism activities.
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