The Great Karoo is separated from the Little Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain Range. The Great Karoo lies to the north of the mountain range and the Little Karoo to the south.
The Great Karoo is a vast semi-desert region of more than 400,000 square kilometres, stretching over the provinces of the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape. The Karoo formed an almost impenetrable barrier to the interior from Cape Town, and the early explorers, hunters and travellers denounced it as a place of great heat, great frosts, great floods and great droughts. However, there is underground water throughout the Karoo and the introduction of the windpump/windmill to tap the Great Karoo’s underground water resources, in the late 1800’s, made permanent human habitation and sheep farming possible over large parts of the Great Karoo for the first time. Like the Karoo Koppie, the multi-bladed windmill has become an iconic feature of the Great Karoo.
Vast plains, majestic mountains, champagne air and picturesque Karoo towns steeped in history and intrigue await the tourists. Here you can explore off the beaten track on foot, horseback, mountain bike, 4x4 or canoe – and enjoy spectacular game viewing and bird watching. Game and nature reserves, farms and fascinating museums, bushman engravings and fossil collections are amongst the main tourist attractions .National Parks to visit include the Karoo National Park, the Camdeboo National Park, Tankwa Karoo National Park as well as the Karoo National Botanical Gardens. Explore the towns of Prince Albert, Graaff Reinet, Nieu Bethesda, Calvinia, Colesberg, Upington, Beaufort West, Laingsburg amongst many other Karoo towns renowned for their warm hospitality and delicious Karoo lamb.