The Karoo: Where Stories Roam

By Chris Marais 20-07-19 12:27

The question most people ask when we meet them somewhere on our travels through the vast dry Karoo region of South Africa is: “How do you find your stories?”… writes Chris Marais from KarooSpace. Those who read our Karoo books and our regular features in SA Country Life magazine and various other publications want to know what sets us […]

The Bakkie with the Best Stories

By Guest Contributor 15-06-19 18:10

Sometime back in 2003, I was standing toe-to-toe with a Sutherland sheep farmer after his deeply rutted middelmannetjie road had nearly ripped the guts out of our little low-slung sedan… writes Chris Marais. We’d come to do a magazine story on some aspect of the guy’s farming enterprise, but the issue of his bad road took […]

Lunch with One of the Karoo’s Most Beautiful Flowers

By Julienne du Toit 05-06-19 19:10

Lizzy was born on the other side of town, on a farm called Noorspoort, owned by the legendary Craven family. “I learnt from my mother how to bake and cook. She in turn learnt it from old Mrs Maria Craven, [rugby legend] Doc Danie Craven’s wife. “Later on I worked on another farm at Baroe, […]

SA Rangers on Lion Search Discover an Eland Carcass

By Jennie Glover 21-02-19 10:39

Tuesday marked the fifth day since a lion escape in the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West, Western Cape. This is according to Nico van der Walt, Park Manager at Karoo National Park who said the search party consisting of 14 Rangers and about six volunteers from neighbouring farms breathed a sigh of relief late […]

Children in the Platteland, South Africa

By Julienne du Toit 15-12-19 12:32

In summer, the familiar rushing sound of the Great Fish River pumping through our home town of Cradock in the Eastern Cape is often punctuated by the excited babble of youngsters as they navigate the gentle rapids on the inner tubes of tractor tyres… writes Julienne du Toit. In the late afternoons, while pensioners watch […]

Moving to the Karoo – Life in a Small South African Town

By Julienne du Toit 03-07-18 21:00

We received a Christmas card a month late the first year we arrived in Cradock, brought to us by our neighbour across the road, Frans Smit. We weren’t disappointed in the crap postal service, and I didn’t curse anyone’s ineptitude. In fact, my husband Chris and I stood staring at the envelope in silent awe. […]


Pubs and Padstalle of Route 62, South Africa

By Chris Marais 30-01-17 17:11

It seems, for some of us, that the older we get the more inclined we are to be reckless. Who but the very bravest of long-distance drinkers, big-bike riders and hardened shoppers would take on the awesome pubs and padstalle of Route 62 in the Western Cape? Who but the youngest and silliest of us […]


Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

By Julienne du Toit 29-12-16 11:18

People who live in the desert love rain. They love it in ways city people don’t understand. In the Karoo and the Kalahari, the horizons are so wide you can see the weather coming while it is still hours away. You can see clouds coalesce and darken over the mountains, then advance, walking on legs […]

the journey man

Diamond Cowboys of Port Nolloth

By Chris Marais 29-08-16 15:04

Decades ago and deep in the Namaqualand desert at a point between Springbok, Steinkopf and the sea, a Cape Town housewife with a squeaky voice steals our hearts. This mommy from the suburbs has requested a tune that plays into our early years, way before Disco, Johnny Rotten, Duran Duran and Really Big Hair stole […]

Old South African Brands

Old South African Brands in the Karoo

By Chris Marais 14-06-16 15:56

I love old signs when I’m on the road. They tell me where I’m going, who lived here, what brands were promoted and what the travelling salesmen flogged to the locals over the decades. Sometimes, on a dusty Karoo trail in the back of beyond, they’re all I have for company. I run across old […]


The Healing Powers of Karoo Herbs, Karoo Wisdom

By Julienne du Toit 03-03-16 13:11

There is no obvious way to sneak up on herbalist Antoinette Pienaar and Karoo healer Oom Johannes Willemse. As documented in her well-loved book The Griqua’s Apprentice (translated from Kruitjie Roer My), they live on Theefontein Farm near Beaufort West, which can only be found via an intricate set of directions involving small dirt roads with middelmannetjies […]

Droogte Hulp

South Africa’s Drought Angels Step Up

By Julienne du Toit 29-04-21 18:13

The vicious El Nino conditions of 2015 have created democratic South Africa’s first truly devastating drought. Not since 1992 has so little rain fallen on the land. Never has our water supply infrastructure been so vulnerable. Six out of the nine provinces have been declared disaster areas. Just before Christmas, the Director-General of the Department […]

A Karoo Farm School with a Difference

By Chris Marais 08-11-15 11:05

A Climax windmill spins and creaks quietly alongside a dirt road linking Colesberg with the blue horizon. There is a cool morning breeze and a few sheep bleat in the distance. Soon, though, they are drowned out by the distant roar of a straining engine. A school bus appears, emblazoned with the words ‘Hantam Community Education […]

Karoo Diary: The Friendly Horse Road

By Chris Marais 25-10-15 10:58

It’s about 160km, give or take a metre or two on either side, from the House of Light & Shadow in Richmond, Northern Cape, to the Karoo Roos padstal outside Middelburg, Eastern Cape. That’s if you venture out on the R398, a dirt road that embodies all that is intriguing about the Karoo: big spaces, […]

Karoo Diary: Draadkar Fever (Wire Car Festival!)

By Chris Marais 04-10-15 13:17

If you want to taste excitement in the air, come to Philipstown this week. They’re counting down the days before the Wire Car Festival, the local event of the year. Wire cars, or draadkarretjies, are big around here. The young boys of Philipstown will do just about anything for a wire car fashioned by one […]

Nama Riel dancers, South Africa

Karoo Diary – Dancing in the Dust

By Chris Marais 15-09-15 16:44

This is no five-step waltz, no quadrille, and by no means is it a cakewalk. It’s more like a cactus tango or a dusty Jitterbug, this Nama Riel dance they do so well out here in the Northern Cape Karoo. It’s ‘Stomp the Yard’ in Calvinia, Williston, Brandvlei and beyond. The cheering crowd forms a square […]

pella cathedral, northern cape

KAROO DIARY: Showdown at Pella Cathedral

By Chris Marais 26-02-15 13:33

Some time ago, this nun and I were in deadlock over a daisy. Neither of us was giving any ground on this hot and bothersome day in Bushmanland. In the museum section of Pella Mission, Northern Cape, to be precise. “Just let me take the plastic cover off for one little minute,” I insisted. But […]

flippin' good wine club, cradock

Karoo Diary: The South African Spirit

By Chris Marais 12-02-15 12:52

Last night here in Cradock, a bunch of us gathered at someone’s house and formed a wine club. Sounds like small potatoes, right? Maybe, but in this world you take your pleasures where you can find them. And so, when the load-shedding kicked in and the lights went out, the candles were lit and the […]

KAROO DIARY: A Cradock Walkabout

By Chris Marais 10-01-15 15:13

Let’s go for a walk around my home town, here on the edge of the Karoo Heartland, where the Great Fish River flows really fast and the local undertaker sells pumpkins on the side. HARRY POTTER & THE GRAVE STONE We’ll begin in the town cemetery at the gravestone of Harry Potter. Yes, you heard […]

KAROO DIARY: Graaff-Reinet’s Drostdy Hotel Comes Alive!

By Chris Marais 27-02-15 19:46

The Drostdy has always been one of the select few grand old hotels of the Karoo. As the prime accommodation in Graaff-Reinet, it began its “hotel life” as Kromm’s Drostdy Hotel back in 1876. The Drostdy had many re-models and facelifts over the century to come, the latest being an intensive upgrade that has taken […]

KAROO DIARY: Six Ways to Love Us

By Chris Marais 04-11-14 13:55

What? Six? Sheesh, I could give you six dozen reasons to climb in a car and come and kuier with us here in the Heartland. However, in honour of short-number listings, let’s look at a sixpack of motivations, beginning with that crazy-creative festival they stage out in the Tankwa Karoo every autumn: AfrikaBurn. At […]

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