Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Klein" Karoo

Along South Africa's Garden Route, the Outeniqua Mountains separate the fertile coastal belt from the semi-arid region of the Klein ("Small") Karoo. Only a few passes could be constructed to traverse the almost impenetrable barrier, which the mountain range represents. The most superior route to the interior is via the Outeniqua Pass (from George in the Western Cape), with ideally located parking spots along the way to admire the magnificent views.

The forever "coiling" Swartberg Pass (left) in the Klein Karoo is an engineering marvel. Although it's a gravel (> tar) road, it's renowned as one of the most spectacular mountain passes in the world - a route the discerning traveler shouldn't miss.

In between the mountains - fertile valleys. This (right) is one of many magnificent views along the Swartberg Pass.

A "mood photo (left) - clouds rolling in over the coastal mountains.

More than 500 species of the genus Aloe are known. Of these, about 125 are found in South Africa. Aloes are indigenous to the African continent and closely adjacent geographical regions. Aloes grow in a vast range of environments and are succulent plants - not to be confused with cacti (Cactus family), which are indigenous to the Americas!

Trivia: Although all cacti are succulents, they are just one of many different groups of succulent plants. Therefore all cacti growing in South Africa (bar one indigenous species!) are originally from Central America.

I took this photo (left) along the R62 - an alternative route to the N2 (between Port Elizabeth and Cape town). It's being marketed as the world's longest Wine Route and runs between the mountain ranges parallel to the southern coast. Tranquility is "the name of the game" when traveling along this road, which encompasses many rural scenes.

Since we are in the Klein Karoo - I present what this region is famous for = ostriches. Other than being the largest living bird on earth, the ostrich has become an "industry". For many years, ostrich feathers were considered a fashion necessity by ladies all over the world. Nowadays, fashion items from ostrich leather are the vogue, and there's a global demand for ostrich meat.

Trivia: Although an ostrich is a bird, its meat is classified as red meat - yet it's virtually fat free, low in calories and cholesterol, whilst rich in protein.

To end todays "session" - another mood-photo of a typical Klein-Karoo-farm scene.

No comments: