Dancing in the dust

Posted by Claire Allison on 6 March 2012

No,  I’m not talking about AfrikaBurn. For those of you who don’t know, there is another dance form taking place in the Karoo each year. But before I get ahead of myself let me set the scene.

If you’ve ever been to Carnarvon in the Northern Cape, then you’ll know there’s not much out there. For those of you who haven’t, Carnarvon is a tiny town in the Karoo dotted with countless windmills, flat-topped hills, corbelled houses and a whole lot of merino sheep. Unless you’re into trekking off-the-beaten track, most people will never encounter the arid Karoo beauty that is Carnarvon.

When one of my colleagues, the legendary Charl Pauw, of 1980s SABC news fame, took a recent trip to check out the town and make contact with the people in the area, he was thrilled to see the local community coming together for the annual Carnarvon Riel Dance Competition taking place. The riel dance is rooted way back in the traditions of the Khoi and San people- the original inhabitants of this semi desert region of Southern Africa and the dance and its music have found a happy revival in the modern world.

A true journalist at heart, Charl whipped out his camera and shot this video.

I must admit, the Karoo is one of my all-time favourite places. The skies are big, the stars bright and silence deafening. It’s one of those places that makes you really appreciate just how tiny you are and how magical South Africa is. Anyone interested in hitting the Northern Cape for a slice of tranquility should check out these self-drive options.


Looking for accommodation in the Karoo? Getaway Accommodation has some wonderful options!

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