The Karoo – Lost in the Desert

Karoo means “country of thirst”. It is a semi-desert divided into two parts, the Great Karoo in the north (400 000 km2) and the Klein Karoo in the south (means “little karoo”).

Graaf-Reinet

We drove the tata for 4 hours from Bloemfontein to Graff-Reinet (pronounced “raf reynette”). This city was founded in 1786, it is the fourth oldest city of South Africa with its 26,585 inhabitants. We were in a nice campsite to spend two nights in our beautiful tent.

The first day we visited the city which is so cute. In the center is the beautiful Dutch church, emblem of the city.

Groot Kerk – Graaf-Reinet church

We then went to the Valley of the Desolation for a hike among large cliffs and columns that rise to 120 meters. The place is full of animals. We could admire the amazing view of the reserve and meet the road of snakes and turtles.

We spent our second night at the campsite before taking the road the next day and continue to cross the desert.

From the top of the Valley, we can see the little town of Graaf- Reinet

The Valley of Desolation

Oudtshoorn

The world ostrich capital is an oasis in the Klein Karoo: Oudshoorn (pronounced “oud-souren”), known for its quality feathers, leather and ostrich meat. This two meter big bird, with two toes, which can’t fly, is the main attraction of the city.

We chose a very nice campsite with a swimming pool. We were supposed to stay only one night but we extended our stay as it was so nice there. 35 degrees in the day at the pool, Braai evening and good atmosphere. After two days of rest, we took the road for the rest of the trip, but before, a detour into an ostrich farm was necessary!

We then went to Highgate Ostrich Show Farm, where we visited the farm. The guide first explained the feather differences: the males have black feathers and the females have beige. When they are young, we do not know what is the ostrich’s sex. It is when they grow up (at 18 months) that its feathers change color to become black or beige. Then they showed us ostrich eggs.

Incredible facts: 1 ostrich egg equals 24 chicken eggs, they are very resistant, you can even stand on a nest full of eggs without breaking them. He also explained that they are not really clever, indeed, one of their eyeball (60 grams) is bigger than their brain (40 grams). Then we fed these big animals! We hold out our hand full of seeds and they rush to peck them very sharply. Ostriches do not have teeth. To digest, they swallow little rocks to do the digestion work in the stomach with a 14m long gut.

 

Ostrich babies are so cute !

After this great cultural moment, we rode the ostriches! A nice moment for us. Once seated on them, the guide makes the ostrich run, while holding them to prevent you from falling. With Noe the ostrich had a little trouble running but with Angie it was going very fast, knowing that an ostrich can run up to 70 km / hr!

It was running really fast … !

Finally, we could watch a real ostrich race between three animators and their faithful steed! A funny moment. After this exciting day, we continued our way by the famous Route 62

The Route 62

South. There are two Garden Route, one along the coast (Cape Town to Port Elizabeth) and Route 62 which is higher inland, passing through vineyards, mountains and the desert. It is the longest wine route in the world.

To reach our next stop at Riebeek-Kasteel to our next couch surfer, we had about 4hr45 drive up to the northwest. We took this Route 62, which passes in the big desert … Nothing around, just long straight lines, some rocky hills. We were dying of heat in the Tata with 40 degrees outside.

We wanted to go through this road not only because it’s famous and beautiful, but also because we wanted stop in an unusual bar… The Ronnie’s Sex Shop! A bar lost in the middle of the desert. Its particularity is that inside, there are many women’s bras and t-shirts hanging from the ceiling. We then ordered a good cold beer to chill. Some tourist and the famous Ronnie, the initiator of the bar was there too.

A little pic with Ronnie in the souvenirs shop, and we took the road under the overwhelming heat of the Karoo desert.

 

Ronnie and Noe
We tried everything to protect us from the sun !

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