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the mythical expanse of the karoo

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:07 pm

I’ve been reading the Africa is a Country blog recently. Honestly, it’s too frequently updated to really read most of it and some of the stuff is not particularly engaging, but there have been some interesting things on there as well.

The most recent thing of interest is this Guardian travelog across the Karoo, a pretty sparsely inhabited dry region of South Africa. Having heard descriptions from family friends and a book I read once, I’d already wanted to go there, but the article’s description is even more alluring:

We pulled up beside the church and the owner of the Die Rooi Granaat cafe, a smiling matronly Afrikaner, looked astonished that we might want food, but quickly prepared a delicious lunch of boerewors, literally “farm sausage”, and pumpkin cakes topped with brown sugar. Children circled the church on bright yellow bicycles. Loxton had almost died out before people in search of solitude turned up and remade it, apparently casting off the stresses that trouble other parts of the country. It was lovely.

We headed north to Carnavon, the very heart of the Karoo. Chris was driving, enjoying this last trip in a car he loves, while I gazed over plains of sweet thorn trees and aloe, spiny shrubs and fleshy succulents. Dassies – ground squirrels – bolted across the road and I searched for the heads of meerkats as the blades of the water pumps glinted under a sky awash with the colours of the dissipating storm.

It sounds almost mythical. Can it possibly live up to the description? I’d say it can’t, but my time in Blyde River Canyon, another mythical-sounding area of SA, proved that such areas can live up to promises.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll have to go see for myself.

One Response to “the mythical expanse of the karoo”

  1. Mummy Says:

    Don’t forget to pick up “The Plains of Camdeboo” when you are home; it is quite lovely. Incidentally, the area referred to is in the Karoo. The back cover: “The Karoo is one of the world’s oldest and greatest deserts. To the casual visitor, it is an arid desolation, without life and without charm. To those who know it, it is land of secret beauty and infinite variety, fierce sometimes, hostile sometimes, but exercising a fascination that makes the rest of the world look strangely tame. “

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