The Karoo’s name is derived from the Khoisan word meaning “land of thirst”.
Despite the barren landscape, the Karoo is home to some 9000 species of succulents and abundant wildlife. The borders of the Great Karoo (home of BloemhofKaroo country guest house, near Richmond, Northern Cape) touch 4 provinces of South Africa, and this area forms the second largest plateau region outside Asia!
The original residents of the Karoo were the Khoisan and the San. The Khoisan relied on sheep and cattle for their livelihood, whereas the San were Hunters. These 2 tribes were the last Stone Age people in South Africa, but their way of life dissipated due to settlers who began farming the Karoo in the 19th century.
One reads about 7 year droughts in the Great Karoo.
The indigenous people and early settlers developed a method of irrigation using “lei-vore”. These are manmade furrows or channels, which offer an ingenious method of flooding crops and lands.
This tried and tested method of irrigation is still used in parts of the Karoo, for example at BloemhofKaroo near Richmond in the Northern Cape.
Rainwater is held in tanks, and the underground water is pumped by Windmills at every opportunity into a dam, from where water is channeled into furrows which lie in parallel lines in the planted lands.
These pictures show the flooding mechanism so successfully used in the Karoo.