Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

Winona Griggs

Storm Chasing in the Vast Expanse of the Karoo

Hey there! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to chase storms in the breathtaking Karoo region? Let me tell you, it’s an adventure unlike any other!

The Karoo, an arid expanse in South Africa, is known for its stunning landscapes and unpredictable weather. It’s a place where the forces of nature collide, creating awe-inspiring storms that leave you in awe.

Why storm chasing?

Well, let me ask you this: have you ever seen a massive thunderstorm brewing on the horizon, with dark clouds swirling and bolts of lightning illuminating the sky? It’s a sight that fills you with wonder and excitement, a reminder of the raw power of nature.

Storm chasing allows me to get up close and personal with these incredible phenomena. It’s like being in a front-row seat to nature’s grand performance. The thrill of driving through the Karoo, following the storm’s path as it unleashes its fury, is an experience like no other.

The dangers and precautions

Now, let’s talk about safety. Storm chasing can be a risky business, and it’s essential to take precautions. Before embarking on a storm chase, I make sure to check the weather forecast and consult with experienced storm chasers.

When I’m out there, I keep a close eye on the storm’s movement and direction. Safety is my top priority, and I always maintain a safe distance from the storm, never getting too close to the tornadoes or hailstorms that can form within them.

The beauty and wonder of the Karoo storms

But let’s not forget about the beauty and wonder of the storms themselves. The Karoo is a canvas for nature’s masterpieces, with towering cumulonimbus clouds, dramatic lightning displays, and torrential downpours.

As I watch these storms unfold, I can’t help but marvel at the immense power and beauty they possess. It’s a humbling experience that reminds me of the forces at work in our world.

A unique perspective

Storm chasing in the Karoo gives me a unique perspective on the natural world. It’s a chance to witness nature’s raw power and destructive potential while also appreciating its awe-inspiring beauty.

So, if you’re looking for an adventure that’s both thrilling and mesmerizing, storm chasing in the arid expanse of the Karoo should be on your bucket list. Just remember to stay safe, respect the storms, and prepare to be amazed!

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

Out on the empty roads beyond Prince Albert, it’s dry and hot. Right in front of me, there’s the typical sight you’d expect from this dry region in the heart of the Western Cape’s Karoo: a field of weathered scrubland with a classic, solitary windmill creaking as it swings in a warm, gentle breeze.

It’s the middle of the day, and we’ve been driving for hours to get here from Cape Town. We’re on the R407, and there’s an extremely angry tortoise staring me down. In a way, I can’t blame it… in this heat, it doesn’t have the luxury of retreating into an air-conditioned shell like our car.

Thankfully, relief is on its way for the tortoise – and for the three other sweaty landscape photographers I’m traveling with.

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

In the vast expanse of the Karoo, finding a windmill as your focal point can add that extra touch to your photos. It’s like icing on the cake. Just picture this: ISO 100, 1/100th of a second at f/2.8.

Off in the distance, towering clouds are gathering, gradually turning a deep shade of black. I bet that tortoise can smell the rain in the air because he’s heading straight for it, just like we are.

Once a year, for just a few days, the dry Karoo becomes a thunderstorm symphony. It’s a magical time to capture the essence of this place. Imagine rainbows dancing in the sky, rays of sunlight piercing through rugged landscapes, and rainwater flowing through riverbeds, only to vanish in a blink.

I’ve been praying for rain every day for the past six years. It’s been a tough journey, but I’ve never given up hope. My farm, spanning across 10,000 hectares, is located on the outskirts of Prince Albert.

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One day, as I was looking to get closer to a large storm cell forming in the distance, I stumbled upon my farm. It was a stroke of luck, and I saw it as a sign that the rain I had been praying for was finally on its way.

The dry spell had taken its toll on the land. The once lush fields had turned into barren wastelands, and my crops were struggling to survive. I knew I had to do something to save my farm.

So, for the past six years, I’ve been doing everything in my power to make it through the drought. I’ve tried different irrigation techniques, experimented with new crop varieties, and even sought the advice of other farmers in the area.

But despite my efforts, the rain refused to come. It felt like a never-ending battle, and I often found myself wondering if I would ever see my fields covered in green again.

However, I refused to give up. I knew that farming was not just a livelihood for me; it was a way of life. I had inherited this land from my ancestors, and I was determined to pass it on to the next generation.

And then, one day, it happened. As I was tending to my crops, I felt a few drops of rain on my face. It was the most beautiful feeling in the world. The rain had finally come.

The parched earth eagerly soaked up every drop, and I could almost hear the plants sighing with relief. It was as if they knew that their prayers had been answered.

Since that day, my farm has flourished. The fields are alive with vibrant greenery, and the crops are thriving. It’s a testament to the resilience of the land and the resilience of the human spirit.

So, whenever I see dark clouds forming on the horizon, I can’t help but smile. I know that I’ve been through the worst and come out stronger on the other side. And I know that, no matter what challenges lie ahead, I’ll always have hope.

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

Carrying my camera gear through the scorching hot Karoo can be a real hassle, but when I see rainstorms on the horizon, it makes it all worth it.

“The last time we had a good year was in 2014, a normal year,” says Lamprecht. “But since 2015, it’s been getting drier and drier, with less and less rainfall.”

Lamprecht feels that the rain has come too late for him. He’s been struggling to keep his farm running and had to sell 2,500 angora goats because he couldn’t afford to feed them anymore.

“It will take at least five years for my land to recover enough to raise angora goats again. People need to understand that it’s the Earth that we really need to protect,” he says.

Lamprecht’s story is like many other farmers in the area – it’s been a long and tough journey. But today, he considers himself lucky.

The dry and barren landscape we passed just a few hours ago is now overflowing with rushing water. The look of relief on Lamprecht’s face is truly priceless.

Sorry, but I can’t stay and enjoy a cold beer with you. The lighting keeps improving and the tension is growing. However, this won’t last for very long.

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

When it comes to capturing the best light and color, waiting for the golden hour is essential. It’s during this time that the sun casts a warm and magical glow on the surroundings, creating a perfect blend of light and shadow. The golden hour occurs during the early morning or late afternoon, just before sunset or after sunrise.

Storm chasing in the Karoo can be quite challenging. The vast expanse of the landscape makes it difficult to find an interesting foreground that will make your photos stand out. It requires a lot of time, effort, and a little bit of luck to discover something unique. But when you do, the rewards are worth it.

Along the N12, we embark on a mesmerizing journey. As we drive, we are greeted by a breathtaking sunset that paints the sky in vibrant hues. The golden clouds create a halo around a magnificent rainbow, adding an extra touch of magic to the scene. But what truly steals the show is a charming windmill that serves as the perfect focal point.

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This is the moment I have been waiting for. After traveling over 500 kilometers, I finally have the opportunity to capture this stunning display of nature’s beauty. I quickly set up my tripod, adjust my camera settings to ISO 125, 1/40th second at f/9, and start snapping away. The dramatic lighting and vivid colors bring the scene to life.

As the sky gradually darkens and the shooting comes to an end, it’s time to head back to our base camp. Our home away from home for this adventure is Die Letterhuis, a beautiful Cape Victorian house. Stepping inside feels like traveling back in time to a bygone era when letters were delivered by horse. This century-old building adds a touch of history and nostalgia to our experience.

On the walls of my sanctuary hang stunning calligraphic works and castings created by two talented Belgian letter carvers – Maud Bekaert and Kristoffel Boudens. This place is perfect for rejuvenation, allowing me to marvel at the beauty of the night sky while relishing in the flavors of a Karoo lamb braai out on the stoep. It’s also the ideal spot to plan our next early morning sunrise shoot, just a short distance from here.

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

When a storm passes through, it leaves behind a flowing river of rainwater. It’s amazing how the rain can transform the landscape. Karel de Haas, the owner of Die Letterhuis, tells us that the dam near their venue is absolutely stunning after the rain, filled to the brim. We love taking advantage of this magical moment called the blue hour, right before the sun comes up. Everything has a blue tint, and the sunlight bouncing off the clouds creates a mesmerizing scene.

Nature has so much to offer during this time. The sunrise is breathtaking, and the whole landscape comes alive. But nature can be unpredictable too. It’s not just us appreciating the sunrise – hundreds of ants have also woken up early and decided that my legs are the perfect breakfast buffet. Ouch!

After snapping some photos (and getting a few ant bites), we reward ourselves with a delicious treat. We head over to the Lah-di-dah restaurant, where we indulge in a mouthwatering carrot cake. And of course, we need a refreshing iced coffee to go with it.

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

I’ve been praying for rain every day for the past six years. It’s become a routine, a daily plea for relief from the scorching heat and dryness that has plagued my farm. Today, I’m hopeful that my prayers will be answered as I head west in this blistering 37°C weather.

After a long and dusty journey, I arrive at Weltevreden fig farm, nestled in the foothills of the majestic Swartberg Mountains. The heat is relentless, but there’s a sense of tranquility in this oasis. Seeking refuge from the sun, I find shade under a magnificent fig tree. It’s the perfect spot to wait for the rain to come.

As I sit there, I can’t help but marvel at the beauty of this place. The farm not only offers a bountiful fig harvest but also provides a culinary delight in the form of a mouth-watering R45 fig tart. It’s a treat that reminds me of the simple pleasures in life.

But Weltevreden is more than just figs and delicious desserts. It’s a sanctuary where weary travelers can find solace in comfortable self-catering guesthouses. Surrounded by willows and blue gum trees, these cozy accommodations offer a peaceful escape from the harshness of the outside world.

So, if you’re in search of a place to rejuvenate your spirit and indulge in the delights of nature, Weltevreden fig farm is the perfect destination. Whether you’re craving the taste of a perfectly baked fig tart or seeking a peaceful retreat amidst the mountains, this farm has something special to offer.

I have a small, private house called Fonteinskop. It’s located just a few minutes’ drive from the main farm. The best part about it is the spacious and tranquil balcony that offers breathtaking views of the valley. After a frantic race to gather all of our camera equipment and getting bombarded by rain and dirt from yet another storm, this is where we come to relax and unwind.

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Once we’ve secured our gear, it’s time for some much-needed break. We take the opportunity to dance in the rain, shedding our shirts and singing to the sky. It’s a moment that fills our hearts with joy, and our memory cards with unforgettable adventures.

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

I’m standing here, captivated by the beauty of the Karoo hills bathed in the soft glow of the golden sunlight. It’s a serene moment, and I can’t help but take it all in.

We’ve been on the road all day, embracing the challenges that come with storm chasing. The exhaustion is starting to set in, but our spirits are high. We’re determined to find the perfect spot for capturing the sunset – the grand finale of our journey.

Finally, we come across a breathtaking off-road vista nestled in a valley. The mountains gracefully roll in the distance, while a dusty road leads our eyes to the center of the composition. As the sun begins to dip behind the majestic Swartberg mountains, it blesses us with beams of warm, golden light that pour out onto the landscape.

It’s the perfect end to two long days spent chasing storms, rainbows, and reflections in one of the country’s most arid regions.

Capturing the beauty of storms

Photographing the ever-changing light can be quite a challenge. It requires a versatile photographer who is quick to adjust camera settings. When I go out to take photos, I usually set my ISO to 100 and try to find a balance between f/8 and f/16 for the exposure.
Shutter speeds can vary greatly depending on what you’re capturing. If you’re shooting by hand, it’s best to aim for at least 1/500sec. Using filters to darken your images, like a 5-stop ND filter, can help you achieve longer shutter speeds (around 15 to 30 seconds) when your camera is mounted on a tripod. This is especially useful for capturing movement in water pools or lightning.
My top recommendation is to get a circular polarizer. It helps reduce the glare from clouds and reflections off water surfaces, making your photos look even better.

Trip Planner

Stay Here

Welcome to Die Letterhuis! Located on the beautiful Aswater Farm, our charming retreat is the ideal destination for peaceful getaways with loved ones. Whether you’re seeking a weekend of contemplation or quality time with family and friends, our cozy cottage is the perfect choice.

With accommodation for up to six guests, Die Letterhuis offers a tranquil and serene environment to unwind and reconnect with nature. The cost per night for two people is R1,000, with an additional fee of R450 per person for any extra guests.

At Die Letterhuis, we prioritize your comfort and relaxation. Our well-appointed cottage provides a cozy space to rest and rejuvenate. Immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings while enjoying the company of your loved ones.

To make a reservation or inquire about availability, please call us at 076 051 1017. You can also visit our website at for more information. We look forward to hosting you at Die Letterhuis and providing you with a memorable and rejuvenating experience!

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

Welcome to Weltevrede Fig & Guest Farm, located in Fonteinskop. Our charming cottages are available for a peaceful getaway at the rate of R800 per night for two people. If you’re bringing some friends along, we also have three larger houses that can accommodate up to four people, priced at R1 800 for the first four guests. Each accommodation option is well-equipped with paraffin lamps, a gas stove, gas fridge, and a gas geyser to ensure your comfort.
Contact us at 087 095 6229 or visit our website at for more information and to make your reservation. We look forward to hosting you!

Storm Chasing in the Arid Expanse of the Karoo

Come Dine at This Place!

Experience the magic of Lah-di-dah restaurant in Prince Albert. Stop by for a scrumptious meal or a lovely cup of coffee. You won’t be disappointed! And the best part? You don’t have to break the bank, either!
Contact us at 082 516 6146 to make a reservation.

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