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IMHO these are actually two totally different entities, although they share a common border and (part of) a name, and should thus be split into two separate articles. Comments, anyone? Elf-friend 10:47, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

  • I'm sorry, but that doesn't make sense. That's like saying East Germany and West Germany should still have separate articles [although they do here!!], simply because they used to be separate. (RM21 19:47, 21 June 2006 (UTC))
  • Well, the two Karoo regions are still distinctive geographical entities with different types of flora, etc. Elf-friend 14:42, 23 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Strictly speaking there are three major Karoo regions. What is commonly called the Great Karoo is actually divided into the Great and the Upper Karoo. The division being the watershed dividing the Orange River basin from the rivers that flow southward into the Indian Ocean. One of the well known landmarks on the watershed are the Three Sisters peaks which form part of the Nuweveld range, situated next to the N1 highway between Beaufort West and Richmond/Victoria West. This division aproximately co-incides with the boundary between The Western and Northern Cape Provinces. The Great Karoo basin is on average more than 1000 feet lower than the Upper Karoo. Roger 10:57, 22 October 2007 (UTC)


I removed the bit about "place of great thirst". The etymology looks very iffy: The Encyclopaedia Britannica kind of backs it up as "a Khoisan word meaning 'land of thirst'", but this isn't confirmed by the OED which says "the precise etymology is uncertain", explaining that early 1800s sources identified it as Khoi for "hard", but later ones suggest they might have confused it with garo = desert. Go figure. Gordonofcartoon 21:00, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

pronunciation of "Karoo"[edit]

Please can someone who knows the correct pronunciation of "Karoo" in English and Afrikaans include it at the beginning of this article, in IPA? (and should it also include the pronunciation in other SA official languages?) Dveej (talk) 04:29, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately I do not know IPA but I will try to give you an idea of how it is said:
SA English - "ka" the "a" is a short "schwa" - "roo" is the same as in "kangaroo"
Afrikaans - "ka" The "a" is the same sound as in "cup" - "roo" the "r" is "rolled" like in most germanic languages and the "oo" is the same as "poor". I hope that is helpful. Roger (talk) 12:31, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Bushmen are now called San. And Bantu is definitely a word we do not use in South Africa. It is effectively the same as Americans talking about niggers! Elephant's Eye

You are correct about San but about Bantu you are misinformed. See Bantu languages Roger (talk) 06:17, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Two settlements[edit]

Look here, at least 2 towns were founded in 18th century, one of them in Great Karoo. But you wrote until 1800 it was wilderness.--Vicpeters (talk) 12:18, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Towns in the Karoo[edit]

I think many a reader would want to know what towns are found within the geographical space of the Karoo and that a section simply naming these is appropriate to this article. Agreed? Which towns warrant mention is another question. I went for some of the bigger ones, that's all. I suggest restoring the deleted section on its towns, perhaps under a heading that says, "Towns and settlements" BlandBaroque (talk) 04:00, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Incidentally, some of the towns of the Little Karoo are listed in the article. Doesn't seem to be a problem and indeed succinctly adds very useful detail to that section. Currently, no Great Karoo towns are directly mentioned. One infers Laingsburg is there from captions to the lovely photos. BlandBaroque (talk) 04:05, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

If we're going to list towns, list them all! Roger (talk) 14:12, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
You think? OK. I'll give it a bash shortly. I trust that, if I fall short, instead of deleting, you'd help add where my knowledge is inferior to yours. BlandBaroque (talk) 14:53, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

The photo gallery is "biased"[edit]

The photo gallery paints an unbalanced picture of the Karoo. Almost all the photos were taken in the spring and in the south-western "corner" of the Karoo - Willowmore and Laingsburg in the spring are not a representative sample. No photos show the harsh greyness of mid-winter around De Aar or the wide open flat countryside of Brandvlei. How about including the Valley of Desolation near Graaf-Reinett. Also "close-up" photos of flowers are pretty but don't really illustrate the landscape. The Karoo only looks like that for a few weeks after exceptionally good spring rain - maybe twice a in a decade. How about showing some sheep? I'll see what I can do about getting a wider variety of photos. Please help if you can. Roger (talk) 07:02, 20 June 2011 (UTC)


There are several inconsistencies in this article.

In the introductory section it states that "the the 'Upper Karoo' in the north ... is divided from the 'Great Karoo' in the middle by the Great Escarpment, ... the Upper Karoo ...and the Little Karoo in the south". (A rather confusing sentence.) Lower down, under the section "Little Karoo", the "Little Karoo" is defined as "a valley bounded on the north by the Swartberg, and on the south by the Langeberg and Outeniqua mountains. Although the boundaries of the region are not strictly defined, most people consider the western limit of the Little Karoo to be in the region of Barrydale and the eastern extremity around Uniondale." This second definition of the "Little Karoo" is the correct one. The Karoo to the north of the Swartberg Mountains but below the Great Escarpment is definitely not "Little Karoo" as suggested in the introduction, but is widely regarded as simply part of the Great Karoo, though it is occasionally referred to as the "Lower Karoo" if one wants to distinguish it from the "Upper Karoo" above the Great Escarpment. More generally it is known by a series of local names like the "Tankwa Karoo", "Moordenaarskaroo", "Die Koup" and "Die Vlakte". (Source: various atlases, very few of which give a special name to the Great Karoo below the Great Escarpment. Only the "Tankwa Karoo" in the far western part of this region, is reasonably widely known because part of it has been declared a National Park.)

There is a second inconsistency, or a confusing inaccuracy, in the "Klein Karoo" section. The paragraph which mentions the main towns of the Klein Karoo, ends with the sentence "On the railway line Cape Town-Johannesburg lies the historical town of Matjiesfontein, seat of majestic Lord Milner hotel, still extant." This sentence belongs to the second paragraph of the "Modern History" section which describes the building of the railway line between Cape Town and the north, including Johannesburg. That railway line runs through the "Great Karoo", or, initially, through the "Lower Karoo" where the historic village of Matjiesfontein is situated, north of the Swartberg Mountains, and definitely not in the "Little Karoo". This last problem is easy to rectify, but the Introduction is more problematic, partly because it corresponds with none of the atlases I have consulted as to the extent of the Karoo. Only in a footnote is it admitted that "few people in southern Africa would hold that 'The Karoo' proper extends into Namibia." That admission should be included in the main text if the "Karoo" is being defined in strictly botanical terms. Furthermore most South Africans, and atlases refer to what is, in this article, called the "Succulent Karoo" - they would call that area "Namaqualand", never having heard of the "Succulent Karoo".

I hope this these comments prove to be helpful. Oggmus (talk) 15:34, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

It sounds like you are more familiar with the Karoo than many others. You are welcome to make changes to the article. I would just like to suggest that, before you click "Save" you click "Preview" and read through the text to be sure it is the way you want it and that there are no typos. In the edit summary, you can write, "Edited for clarity and accuracy of information", or something like that. If you need help with wording a sentence or with ordering sentences in a paragraph, I'd be glad to help. If you add new information to the article, you really ought to add accompanying references, also. If you need help with that, you can look at Wikipedia's guide to adding references WP:REF. If you come across a real problem, ask User talk:Dougweller. CorinneSD (talk) 16:55, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

Hi CorinnerSD. Thank you for the advice, and your offer to help. I do in fact write all the material I intend to insert into a Wiki article (if it is of any length at all) in Microsoft Word first. That picks up quite a lot of problems, but is very difficult to proof-read as the references get in the way. I then do exactly what you suggest, and "Preview" the paragraph(s) or section(s), where I pick up a lot of typos, and other errors, which I correct immediately before clicking "Save". However, because I am so familiar with what I have written, revised and then revised and improved again, that I miss a surprising number of very obvious mistakes, which either people like yourself pick up, or I pick on rereading the article the next day, and the day after that etc. I hardly ever manage to get everything right first time, no matter how hard I try. (That has always been a feature of my writing of articles and letter in my profession - I do not know how the authors of old managed to write their books without a word-processor, and get the English perfect first time round!) Maybe in future I should advise you whenever I do a major re-write, to ask you to proof read it too. I suppose I can reach you via your Talk page? Oggmus (talk) 15:21, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

Improving the article[edit]

The problem is that the article uses a rather indiscriminate mixture of "definitions" most are botanical but there are also geological and cultural/historical ones. If we are to tighten this up to use purely botanical definitions the authorotative source is the South African National Botanical Institute
In terms of the broad biomes Succulent Karoo is the basically the winter rainfall part and Nama Karoo is the summer rainfall part - - the finer grained subdivisions are far more complex and the map is quite scary! This article - - is also very relevant. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 20:47, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

Hi Roger. I would much rather go for a general description of the Karoo, than a purely botanical one. I have already written about the Geology of the Karoo Supergroup, which would also be an inappropriate definition of what most people understand by the "Karoo". Sources differ considerably in what they include under the term "Karoo", but I think there is an area which if you live in it, or visit it, you would describe yourself as being in the Karoo - and everyone would agree with you, or know what you are talking about. The surrounding areas like Namaqualand, Bushmanland, the Kalahari, and one source even included the whole of the Free State! tend to be referred to by those names in preference to "Karoo" (or a Karoo subsection) when describing the area. For instance, Nick Norman and Gavin Whitfield in their recent book (2006) "Geological Journeys" refer to the area between Springbok and Kakamas as "Bushmanland" and not "Northern Karoo". Similarly their description of the geology seen along the road between Cape Town and Springbok does not go through the Karoo, but through "Namaqualand". No one would call the Free State as being in the Karoo. I have created and uploaded a map that I have just drawn of what I think would be a fairly widely accepted definition the the Karoo.

Consensus map of the Karoo derived from a variety of atlases

Maybe you could have a look at it and tell me what you think

I am from Cape Town, and I see that you live in the Northern Cape. So maybe we could could correspond by email to work out something that would be suitable for Wikipedia. I have a whole bunch of reference books at the ready that could be used to create a really informative and interesting article. Oggmus (talk) 12:21, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

The revised version[edit]

The article has been completely revised as discussed above. I hope it finds favor with the readers, and experts on the the history, botany and geology of Karoo. Oggmus (talk) 06:22, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

Sorry, that map isn't worth the paper it isn't printed on. I have replaced it with one showing the two Karoo eco-regions as recognized by the WWF and other scientifically responsible authorities. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 17:40, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
WWF map of the Karoo ecoregion

Hi Roger. I am sorry that you did not respond sooner to the posting of my proposed map of the Karoo on this page on 23 April. Since you did not react I assumed you agreed with it, and revised the article accordingly. The map I have drawn is derived from a variety of sources, the most important of which are the "Atlas of Southern Africa" p. 13, and the "Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa" p. 79, both fully referenced in the article. I have also used "The Times Atlas of the World" p. 90 which labels the various regions of SA without drawing boundaries between them. I also made use of various texts describing the regions of South Africa, such as Bulpin's "Discovering Southern Africa" and Norman & Whitfield's "Geological Journeys" to derive what I believe is a consensus map that comes as close to what all these authors and sources, plus the 30 or so other references that I used to re-write the article, would agree with. It is therefore patently incorrect to say that "my map" is not worth the paper it is written on, and is not recognized by any scientific or responsible authority. Furthermore, the WWF map is very confusing, as it does not recognize the "Little Karoo" at all, it does not indicate the course of the Great Escarpment, or the Cape Fold Mountain, all of which are vital to an understanding of the Karoo. Instead it marks off a large portion of the south of Namibia, including the Namib sand desert, as belonging to the Karoo, which is a very unusual point of view, especially since it excludes the Kalahari, which would make much more sense (than the Namib sand desert). I'm sure it contains extremely valuable information, and has a place in Wikipedia, maybe even in this article, but its purpose and why it was constructed the way it was, needs a lot of explanation. Just to emphasize what I mean, a Road Map of RSA would be informationally entirely correct and authoritative, but would of no use in this article on the Karoo (unless it made a special point about the Karoo and the construction and course of roads in this semidesert).

Nothing I have written about the geography, history, geology and subregions of the Karoo can be interpreted in the context of the WWF map. All my sources are there for anyone to check, and although no one will agree with every word I have written (that is impossible if you have to summarize information), very little of it patently wrong. All of that text, takes on meaning and clarity when compared with "my map", which it would not do on the WWF map.

I am reproducing the WWF map below "my map" on this page, so that others can compare the two, and comment accordingly. In the meantime I am restoring "my map" and caption to its original position. and we wait to see what comment we receive.

The ideal solution would be, that your map gets included in the article under the heading of the "Karoo flora" (or some such title) and that you write a full section to explain what additional information can be derived from it that is not already present in the article. It could then also be explained, for instance, why the "Little Karoo" has to be excluded from the WWF's "Karoo ecosystem" but includes portions of Namibia, despite what is normally understood to be the Karoo. (At the moment it simply states that parts of Namibia are included, leaving the reader puzzled as to why this departure from the standard notion of the Karoo appears on this map.) Oggmus (talk) 10:00, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

The basic problem is that there is no single "standard" definition of "Karoo" - to a geologist it means one thing, to an ecologist it is two different things. Then there are the travel guides and other unscientific sources that reflect a wide variety of cultural/historical views. Your map unfortunately mixes and conflates a number of these sources with varying POVs resulting in conflicts and inconsistencies.
I was working strictly and exclusively from the ecological/botanical view, thus the WWF's map is absolutely authoritative, further subdivisions of the two WWF defined biomes follow Acocks's work on veld type (as periodically updated by SANBI) - these include concepts such as Tankwa, Koue Bokkeveld, Roggeveld, Richtersveld, Hantam, etc.
The only logical solution to this problem is to make this page a list page and have separate articles for each of the other "Karoo" concepts. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 14:41, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

What defines the Karoo?[edit]

Hi Roger I entirely agree that there is no agreement as to what precisely is the "the Karoo", and that is stated quite empathically in the introduction. If one uses any of the specialist definitions like the geological one (see Karoo Supergroup) you get a completely different answer to the botanical one or the meteorological one. However no geologist claims that their geological definition of the extent of the Karoo rocks comes even close to the generally accepted concept of "the Karoo". They recognise that their geological structure simply uses the adjective "Karoo" because that is where historically or otherwise it was first discovered. The same goes for many geological names like the "Dwyka Group" which takes it name from the village and/or river "Dwyka", but no geologist pretends that their "Dwyka Group" is a definition of the village "Dwyka". The same goes for "Witwatersrand" (which, by the way also has half a dozen different meanings depending on from what aspect you are looking at it.) I have no argument with the botanical/ecological definition of the Karoo, but, like the geological definition it is a specialised concept that conveniently uses the adjective "Karoo" for exactly the same reason that the geologist use the Karoo adjective, without pretending that it defines the Karoo even closely, as defined by the atlases, and guide books, and the way that South Africans think of the Karoo.

I still maintain that either a separate article on the ecological/botanical "Karoo" should be written explaining its unique and interesting character, in the same way that there is an article on the geological Karoo Supergroup, or that such a chapter be inserted into this article (in the same way that the Karoo geology is summarized here now, in as far as it describes important topological features found in the Karoo - but not because the geological Karoo defines the geographic Karoo).

To describe the Karoo piecemeal in separate articles entitled "Tankwa", "Koue Bokkeveld", "Roggeveld", "Moordenaars Karoo", "Die Vlakte", "Camdeboo Plains" etc. etc would be like scrapping the article on "Cape Town" and replacing it with separate articles on each of the suburbs. That would be crazy.

Furthermore there are no "scientific" definitions of "Tankwa", "Koue Bokkeveld", "Roggeveld", "Moordenaars Karoo", "Die Vlakte", "Camdeboo Plains" etc. So you would be back at square one. The geographic "Karoo" written about in this article is every bit as real as the subdivisions you advocate to replace the Karoo article. So clearly you recognise that “science” is not a criterion for describing geographical areas, particularly when names have arisen historically (like Highveld or Lowveld.)

So, once again, I would make the plea that you write a scientific article/chapter/section on the ecological/botanical Karoo, and, depending on its length and style, incorporate it into WIKI, either as a separate article or a chapter within the present article. Simply inserting the WWF map, which raises more questions and poses more puzzles than it answers, is no substitute for a decent article or section on the ecological/botanical concept of the Karoo.

In the meantime I am contacting the botanists at the University of Cape Town and at SANBI to help me interpret the WWF map, which at least of one of their members, but not a specialist, has already declared as eyebrow-raisingly puzzling. Oggmus (talk) 05:53, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Hi Roger, I’m afraid I agree with Oggmus. In my opinion, the WWF map is inappropriate to be the first map shown in the WIKI article on the Karoo because it depicts the "Karoo ecosystem.” As reflected in the lengthy WIKI article, the Karoo is much more than just an ecosystem. In other words, the WWF map is too specialized to appear in that location.

For example, I did a Google search on the term “Great Karoo” and found about 213,000 hits. “Little Karoo” produced about 217,000. These are therefore widely used terms, and they need to appear in the first map. The fact that the two terms (correctly) don’t appear on the WWF ecosystem map should alert one to the fact that the WWF map is inappropriate as the first map in the article.

On the other hand, I think that the WWF map would enhance a new section on the Karoo ecosystem. (talk) 05:53, 1 May 2014 (UTC) Gebore-en-getoë

That's why I suggested that this article should be split up. Different articles can properly deal with different aspects of "karooness". The Succulent Karoo biome already has a separate article, I would create one for the Nama Karoo. Someone else can then create one or more articles about the human/cultural/historical aspects of the Karoo, which I believe is more in line with what Oggmus is doing. This page Karoo can then be converted into a brief general description and then a "disambiguation list" of all the relevant articles.
I cannot see what this would achieve. I am all for separate articles on the Succulent and Nama Karoos, just as there is an article on the "Karoo Supergroup". But I think there is every reason to have an article called "Karoo" that covers what an international readership wants from an encyclopedic article, after having looked up "Karoo" on the WIKI search engine. The articles on the Karoo in Encyclopaedia Britannica (a pretty authoritative source) do not resort to the sort of suggestion you are making.
In none of the versions of Encyclopaedia Britannica that have I seen, is the Karoo defined as a Botanical entity (nor a Geological one). Karoo is a name that refers to a geographic area, just as there are geographical areas in South Africa called Highveld, Lowveld, Bushmanland, Namaqualand, Lesotho Highlands etc., none of which have "scientific" definitions, nor sharply defined borders, except where they abut mountain ranges or a major river. This is the case all over the world. Areas develop names through tradition, and geographers adopt those names to draw their maps. What, for instance separates the Langeberg from the Outeniqua mountains but some arbitrary historical quirk. But that is what the people knew these mountains as, and who are the geographers to tell them that they are wrong?.
An encyclopedic entry on the "Outeniqua Mountains" would have to accept what the official atlases delineate as the "Outeniqua Mountains", as "unscientific" as that may seem. The same goes for the "Karoo". If there is a "Nama Karoo" that has a scientific definition, then obviously the article on the "Nama Karoo" must adhere to that scientific definition. But that restriction does not transfer to the "Karoo" or "Outeniqua" articles. Oggmus (talk) 12:30, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
The geology is covered by Karoo Supergroup. I'm a bit concerned about some of the things Oggmus is doing, his/her descriptions of the geographic limits are based on synthesis of their personal interpretation of a variety of different sources which have differing purposes and of widely varying accuracy (such as tourism guides and general atlases). One example is the idea that the Karoo borders directly on the Kalahari (somewhere near the Orange River) - that is flat out wrong - for example Kimberley is neither in the Karoo nor the Kalahari. Karoo and Kalahari come closest in the area of Upington.
Nowhere do I claim in the article that the "Karoo borders directly on the Kalahari (somewhere near the Orange River)". Nor do I claim anywhere that Kimberley is in either the Karoo or Kalahari. Oggmus (talk) 12:30, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
Oggmus is clearly speaking to the wrong person at SANBI as the WWF map is directly based on SANBI's own work! and
I have not had a reply from anyone at SANBI yet, but I have had some responses from the UCT Botany Department, but await some more definite comments from that quarter, when they get back to their office and can consult their textbooks. I will amend and adjust what is written in the article when I get more information. But, since you are busy writing an article on the Nama Karoo, it is not going to be necessary to write more than just a summary.
By the way one of the references that was given to me by the UCT botanist, is the only reference you have so far listed in your draft of the Nama Karoo article. It is cited amongst the references to this article! Oggmus (talk) 12:30, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
I will now concentrate on creating the Nama Karoo article - Draft:Nama Karoo. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 07:03, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
That is fantastic news. And the draft looks very promising. Oggmus (talk) 12:30, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Climate and Soil of the Karoo[edit]

Is there anyone out there who could describe the climate and soils of the Great and Little Karoos, under the appropriate headings? Oggmus (talk) 08:06, 14 May 2014 (UTC)