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Klein Karoo

This is an ancient paradise, this Klein Karoo. With rocks as old as 800 million years where man has lived for a hundred thousand years and a hundred thousand more, even the meanings of place names have been lost in time. And whilst the men and women of the San and Khoekhoe tribes are gone - the people who might once have translated names like Attakwaskloof, Kamanassie, Outeniqua and Gamka - their spirit lives on in the mountains which encircle the Klein Karoo.

The coming of the first European explorers in 1689 - a party of 20 under the leadership of the Dutch ensign Isaac Schrijver - marked the end of the Stone Age and the beginning of the end for the Khoekhoe people of the Klein Karoo. In a little less than two hundred years, the area was transformed into an important commercial farming centre which, for a few brief glorious years at the beginning of the 20th century, became the world's greatest producer of ostrich feathers.

But feathers quickly lost their sparkle and the town settled back into its sleepy, rural ways. And the Klein Karoo, this massive cradle nestled in the folded mountains of the Western Cape - with the Garden Route to the south and the dry Great Karoo to the north - is today as silent and peaceful as it ever was.

As soon as you arrive, you'll know that the Klein Karoo remains an ancient paradise - and you'll understand why it is - and has always been - one of South Africa's favourite tourist destinations.