The Great Karoo

The Great Karoo

Travel to The Great Karoo – Ancient Arid Landscape

The Great Karoo is one of the world’s most unique arid zones and a wonder of the scientific world. This ancient, fossil-rich land has the largest variety of succulents found anywhere on earth.

The Great Karoo is a plateau basin in Western Cape province that has an area of more than 400,000 square kilometres, lying between the Great Escarpment in the north and the Swartberg in the south. From a geogical point of view, it has been a vast inland basin for most of the past 250 million years. At one stage, the area was glaciated and the evidence for this is found in the widely-distributed Dwyka tillite. Later, at various times, there were great inland deltas, seas, lakes or swamps.

The Great Karoo represents the effect of headwater erosion by rivers flowing southwest and southeast from the escarpment. The Great Karoo is divided into a western basin and a much larger eastern basin. The western, which is the headwater basin for the Doring River, is about 225 kilometres north to south and about 80 kilometres wide. The eastern basin contains the headwaters of the Buffels, Dwyka, Gamka, Groot, and Sondags rivers.

Karoo is an old indigenous word for dry thirst land.


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