Often referred to as the ‘dry heart’ of South Africa, the Karoo Heartland is but a portion of the Karoo set on the eastern periphery of the central plateau in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.
The Karoo, regarded in the past by many as something of a desolate, barren backwater, best driven through at breakneck speed, is a huge semi desert encompassing close to 150 000 square miles that manages to sit astride all three Cape provinces. The Karoo Heartland’s rugged and intense beauty is dominated by vast, flat plains, rocky mountains, and the biggest assortment of succulents in the world. This beautiful area, subject to red dust, thorny acacias, stunted vegetation, aloes, windmills, sheep and the odd Angora goat, boasts some of the quaintest towns in the country, authentic farmstays, the dramatic valley of Desolation, the Owl House and the Camdeboo National Park. Today the Karoo Heartland has been repackaged as an enviro-region that charms with its unusual and unpretentious characters, eccentricities and diversity of activities.
South Africa’s outback, regarded in the past as good for little other than sheep, ostriches and whirlwinds, has become distinctly hip. And did we mention the skies? Some of the best star-gazing and sunsets in the country are available in this incredible vastness. The Karoo Heartland has been sequestered by a group of artists, hoteliers, restaurateurs and other creative souls seeking a lifestyle other than that offered by the country’s cities. The boom of consequent galleries, guesthouses, restaurants and a resurging ostrich business have turned the Karoo into a place well worth visiting.