The Karoo is a semi-desert natural region of South Africa. There is no exact definition of what constitutes the Karoo, and therefore its extent is also not precisely defined. The Karoo is partly defined by its topography, geology, and climate — above all, its low rainfall, arid air, cloudless skies, and extremes of heat and cold. The Karoo also hosted a well-preserved ecosystem hundreds of million years ago which is now represented by many fossils. The Karoo formed an almost impenetrable barrier to the interior from Cape Town, and the early adventurers, explorers, hunters and travelers on the way to the Highveld unanimously denounced it as a frightening place of great heat, great frosts, great floods and great droughts. Today it is still a place of great heat and frosts, and an annual rainfall of between 50–250 mm, though on some of the mountains it can be 250–500 mm higher than on the plains. However, underground water is found throughout the Karoo, which can be tapped by boreholes, making permanent settlements and sheep farming possible. The Karoo is divided into the ‘Great Karoo’ and the Little Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain Range, which runs east-west, parallel to the southern coastline, but is separated from the sea by another east-west range called the Outeniqua –Langeberg Mountains. The Great Karoo lies to the north of the Swartberg range; the Little Karoo is to the south of it. 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. The Little Karoo’s extent is much smaller than that of the Great Karoo.

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The farm Doornkraal lies at the foot of the Swartberg range in the Klein Karoo, a part of South-Africa also known by its original name, Kannaland. Here the Le Roux family has been farming for generations. Doornkraal’s basic philosophy is that…