Extending across 400 000 square kilometres of the country, the Karoo is South Africa’s largest ecosystem and its semi-arid scrublands shelter a surprisingly rich diversity of plant, bird and animal life. Composed of the Great and Little Karoo, this vast semi-desert region may seem harsh and unforgiving to some, but to others, it’s a sanctuary of peace and silence with its own unique, compelling beauty. The Karoo’s landscape is characterised by rugged mountains hiding ancient caves, as well as undulating plains peppered with indigenous succulents and grazing ostrich and sheep. Highlights of the area are the fossil trail in the Karoo National Park and the annual Olive Festival in the small town of Prince Albert.