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  • Writer's pictureSharon

Visiting the Klein Karoo

Klaarstroom is located in The Klein Karoo (Little Karoo), a eye popping 350 km long valley stretching from Montagu in the west to Uniondale in the east, and is almost completely surrounded by mountains. Only between 40 and 60 km wide, the Klein Karoo is nestled between the imposing Swartberg Mountains in the north, and the continuous Langeberge and Outeniqua Mountains in the south.

Visitors testifies of the region's distinctive gastrology, the friendliness of its people and the mystique of the Klein Karoo's landscape. Travelling through the Klein Karoo the visitor passes through fruit growing, wine producing and ostrich farming towns such as Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Van Wyksdorp, Barrydale and Uniondale and historic Amalienstein, Zoar, Dysselsdorp and Haarlem. (SA Places).

This area was explored by European settlers in the late 17th century, who encountered the Khoisan people as the original inhabitants of this area. The latter called the Swartberg Mountains kango meaning "a place rich in water". The Cango Caves in the Swartberg Mountains are named after this Khoisan word.

The Little Karoo, and especially Oudtshoorn, became synonymous with the ostrich-feather industry in the 1880s. The resulting "feather millionaires" built Victorian "Feather Palaces" all over town, using the red rocks belonging to the Enon Conglomerate, and related Kirkwood Formation, to build them. These grand red palaces and other buildings in Oudtshoorn can still be admired today.

The Little Karoo, also called the Klein Karoo (klein is Afrikaans for "small"; karoo derives from the San [Bushman] word for "thirst"), should not be confused with the Great Karoo, a vast semi-desert scrubland on the interior side of the Swartberg Mountains. Everything here is a little surreal—giant birds of prey soar overhead, huge caves stretch for miles underground, and bright-green vineyards contrast with intricately eroded, deep-red hills.

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