The Great Karoo Grasslands

Explore the Great Karoo Grasslands, an Ever-Changing Canvas of Colour and Life

28 November 2023

Nestled in the heart of South Africa, the Great Karoo Grasslands as a vast and enchanting landscape, waiting to be discovered by those seeking adventure off the beaten path. Stretching across three South African provinces: the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Northern Cape, this semi-arid region holds a world of unique beauty and biodiversity—all within the distinctive and fascinating Karoo Grassland Biome.

Image showing a mountainous terrain within the Karoo Grassland Biome

About the Karoo Grasslands

The Karoo Grasslands are a remarkable expanse nestled within the heart of South Africa’s rich and expansive interior. Wide plains of grass weave a rich tapestry of biodiversity and cultural heritage into a breathtaking landscape. And within this unique biome, the flora showcasing hardy succulents, resilient shrubs, and endemic grasses that have adapted ingeniously to the semi-arid conditions and harsh Karoo climate.

Many wildlife species rely on the Karoo Grasslands, from graceful springboks, majestic kudus, and elusive mountain zebras that roam freely across the undulating terrain. The region also carries a profound historical significance, with small Karoo towns bearing witness to the tales of early Western settlers and nomadic Khoisan herders. 

Karoo Grassy Shrublands

The Karoo is a haven for biodiversity, unfolding its wonders across two distinctive biomes—the vast Nama-Karoo, covering the majority of the area, and a smaller yet significant Grassland Biome. The Grassland Biome, characterised by the Karoo Escarpment Grassland vegetation types, stands out as a vast and impressive landscape within the Great Karoo’s diverse terrains, forming a subset of the Dry Highveld Grassland Bioregion.

With Montane Karoo grassy shrublands, Karoo grassy dwarf shrublands, succulent dwarf shrublands, and riparian thickets, the Karoo acts as a sanctuary for over 30% of all recognised endemic plant species in the Nama-Karoo Biome.

While the Karoo experiences natural and regular droughts, the delicate grassland ecosystem plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance between the animal population and the available vegetation. Seeds, flowers, various grass and shrub species, and an abundance of insects, help sustain the Karoo’s incredible bird-life and native wild animals. From the smallest of mice to the largest of elephants, the Karoo Grasslands are a knee-high haven stretching for as far as the eye can see.