The Karoo is regarded by many to be the heart of South Africa. This plateau, located in the centre of the country, is an eco-traveller's dream destination, and the red sand baking under the shimmering sun is home to some of the world's most fascinating plant and animal species.
This ancient land seems strangely untouched by time, and the remote "dorpies" still exist as they did a couple of hundred years ago.
With a landscape punctuated by windmills and far-off mountains, the open plains of the Karoo Heartland are home to the largest variety of succulents in the world.
The region is also well known for the Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock and the Camdeboo National Park which surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet. Here you can see the Valley of Desolation with its weirdly shaped rock formations towering over the landscape, and at night enjoy some of the best stargazing opportunities in the country.
Towns in the Karoo Heartland include Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Middelburg, Somerset East and the quaint Nieu-Bathesda with its famous Owl House.
It's worth your while to stop over in some of the smaller towns too, since each one has its own unique character and flavour, and you are bound to meet interesting and friendly people along the way.