Deserts and dry places - our favourite landscapes. One such place is the Karoo, a semi desert area in South Africa. It's roughly divided into the Great Karoo and the Little Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain Range that runs east-west and is separated from the Indian Ocean by another east-west range, the Outeniqua–Langeberg Mountains. The Great Karoo lies to the north of the Swartberg range while the Little Karoo can be found to the south of the Swartberg.
We recently found ourselves in the Little Karoo, staying at the Paddagaste Self Catering Accommodation in the tiny town of Van Wyksdorp. It was eBiking that got us there and we spent some wonderful hours riding the back roads and farm tracks in the area. At the same time though it enabled us to add to our portfolio of Karoo images for our photo library. At first glance the Karoo appears virtually empty - a few little (often aromatic) bushes and shrubs, sheep, some springbok if you are lucky, and every now and then, a windmill lifting up dribbles of precious water from subterranean aquifers. People are few and far between - even the occasional homestead that you pass seems to be deserted...
But! Get down on your hands and knees and explore the rocky outcrops, and you'll discover that the botanical biodiversity of this region is unequalled by any other desert or semi-desert on earth. If you have time and the inclination to count, you'll find over 5 000 different plant species, some 2 000 of which occur nowhere else! About a third of the world's 10 000 succulents occur here more than anywhere else! We should treasure this - look after it for future generations. Sadly less than 3% is covered by formal protected areas (nature reserves and national parks). Just 3%! Really!?
It is the only arid plant hotspot in the world!
Into this vast area we peddled, loving the clean, cold winter, the freedom of movement and open space. But mostly we loved that we were part of this totally unique place!
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