In pursuit of the Karoo’s enduring spirit

 
 
 

A shock of green ruptures the arid landscape of the Karoo. Flourishing poplar trees rustle amid dolomite rocks and red sands. For years, their shade has provided relief from the scorching sun for years. It’s an oasis on Ezeljacht farm. This is where Rudolf Steenkamp has created the Silhouette Hiking Trail, an immersive journey taking people through primordial terrain.

The diverse environment provides a distinct panorama. Its rough and rocky edges might deter some. But Steenkamp understands the singular experience of the Karoo. “It is here where I find rest for my soul,” he says. Hikers like him trek through the farm by day, or spend nights tucked away in isolated huts, the only light coming from the stars above. After a taxing hike through craggy paths, the poplars are a place of refuge. In midsummer, travellers catch their breath beneath their leaves. In winter, the branches turn into icy sculptures under the snow. “All of a sudden, you’re not in the Karoo anymore,” Steenkamp says. “It’s a completely different atmosphere.”

Old farm buildings dot the trail. Dassies and antelope wander by. Twenty kilometres outside Sutherland, Ezeljacht is a space for solitary reflection. Each time Steenkamp looks out onto the poplar trees, he can’t help but be pleasantly surprised. Even in the most desolate landscapes, beauty thrives.