What Is Karroo Made up Of?
Karroo, plateau region of the western part of the Drakensberg Mountains is made up of two distinct basins, named the Great Karroo and the Little Karroo, in the Cape of Good Hope Province, South Africa. It is about 400,000 sq km (154,440 sq miles) in area; and about 900 to 1200 m (3000 to 4000 ft) high above sea level. It forms two successive terraces between the south coast and the high veld of the interior of Cape Province.
The Karoo has many moods and its landscape can alter dramatically with the shifting seasons. During times of drought the earth becomes almost blackened under the relentless sunshine with the brittle Karoo bushes and plants crackling as you brush against them. Even at its driest there is the promise of rain which brings a renewal of life. There is nothing to match the smell of the earth after the first rains and a myriad shades of green bursting forth from the iron grey soil interspersed with brilliant tiny wild flowers.
The Great Karoo and Little Karoo lie almost entirely within two of South Africa’s eight botanical biomes, namely the Succulent Karoo biome and the Nama Karoo biome, both of which, like the Karoo Geological System, are more extensive than the geographical or historical Karoo described in South African atlases and guide books.
The Great Karroo: The only sharp and definite boundary of the Great Karoo is formed by the most inland ranges of Cape Fold Mountains to the south and south-west. The extent of the Karoo to the north is vague, fading gradually and almost imperceptibly into the increasingly arid Bushmanland towards the north-west. To the north and north-east, it fades into the Savannah and grasslands of Griqualand West and the Highveld. The boundary to the east grades into the grasslands of the Eastern Midlands.
The Great Karoo is itself divided by the Great Escarpment into the Upper Karoo (generally above 1200–1500 m) and the Lower Karoo on the plains below at 700–800 m. A great many local names, each denoting different subregions of the Great Karoo, exist, some more widely, or more generally, known than others.
In the Lower Karoo, going from west to east, they are the Tankwa Karoo, the Moordenaarskaroo, the Koup, the Vlakte, and the Camdeboo Plains. The Hantam, Kareeberge, Roggeveld, and uweveldare the better known subregions of the Upper Karoo, though most of it is simply known as the Upper Karoo, especially in the north.
The Little Karroo: The Little Karoo’s boundaries are sharply defined by mountain ranges to the west, north, and south. The road between Uniondale and Willowmore is considered, by convention, to form the approximate arbitrary eastern extremity of the Little Karoo. Its extent is much smaller than that of the Great Karoo. Locally, it is usually called the Klein Karoo, which is Afrikaans for Little Karoo.