The Karoo has always been a dry place. Her very name means ‘land of thirst’ to her original inhabitants. It’s part of her allure, and a key factor in the very special wildlife and plant life you find here. But the balance between ‘dry enough’ and ‘too dry’ is a fine one, and 2019 saw that tip a little too far.

As part of the greater Cape area, the Klein Karoo has not been spared the effects of the ongoing drought gripping the area. With a hot, dry summer settling in across South Africa, conditions have become very serious in many areas. While the drought may seem something distant to you if you’re only visiting Buffelsdrift Game Lodge in the Karoo area on holiday, there’s a lot you can do to help ease the burden on troubled local farmers and wildlife – so we’re taking a closer look at how your time on safari can help the Karoo through this difficult period and be a better #waterwise traveller.

What’s happening on the ground?

The good news is that overarching governmental plans are in place to help combat the severe drought effects. Plans to build a new reservoir are in place, and borehole drilling will commence soon to provide quicker relief. These solutions take time to roll out, however, and in the meantime, the Karoo has to deal with the effects of a drought that could be the worst one in several centuries.

Visiting the Karoo during the drought – how you can help

Short of a rain dance, how can you, as a visitor to the area, help? While a drought is a situation where you can feel like you have little power to make a difference, there’s a host of ways you can keep our beloved Karoo thriving.

1.   Support is always welcome

Of course, you’re here on holiday. You’re here to experience an African game lodge, not a drought. We don’t expect you to solve the drought crisis single-handedly. But your mere presence and support can work wonders.

Some Karoo residents feel that their drought plight hasn’t gripped the nation (and the world press) the way ‘Day Zero’ in the Cape did a few years ago. Simply knowing that eyes on the ground are seeing and hearing their worries, caring, and carrying that news back to where it can help, can be of tremendous support and comfort.

And if you do feel like getting more hands-on in your support, there are many fantastic organisations (like Gift of the Givers) doing their best to help struggling wildlife and farmers more directly with water deliveries and other programs.

2.   Don’t waste water

Water is a precious commodity anywhere in the world, so we’re sure you’re already pretty mindful of your water usage. But the Karoo is a semi-desert zone, and we need every drop at the moment. Small differences – like turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, reusing your towels, keeping the slashing in the pool to a minimum, or emptying your glass of melted ice or undrank water over a plant and not into the ground – can have a huge impact on reducing water waste, and the animals and people alike will thank you.

3.   Use ethical providers

It’s no secret that Buffelsdrift Game Lodge does it’s best to keep conservation front-and-centre of what we do. Supporting businesses who actively conserve water will make a huge difference.

You’ve probably never considered, say, the water used to wash off a rental car- but in the Karoo right now, that’s the kind of thought we need. There’s a host of ethical companies reducing their water wastage, so if you have the chance to choose one of them, your support will work wonders.

Remember, too, that ‘local is lekker.’ Businesses in the area will greatly appreciate you using them at a time when cash is being used to bring in water from outside the province.

4.   Skip single-use water bottles

Who has the right to water sources is a bit of a sticky subject around the world right now. Something you may not realise, especially if you come from places where the tap water isn’t always drinkable, is that South Africa has excellent tap water. You can pour a cool glass right out the tap to enjoy!

All of our rooms are kitted out with reusable plastic bottles which we refill daily. Needing more fresh, chilled water? Just ask us to replace your bottle – on the house!

5.   Don’t cause a spark

At times like this, the bush is naturally incredibly dry- and a wildfire right now would be devastating. The Karoo has already had issues with a major fire recently. Not only can a fire cause risk to human and animal alike, it depletes the natural plant population of an area, having a knock-on effect on the ecosystem that’s even more difficult to recover from than drought.

Help us avoid accidental fires spreading. You’ll probably already be very mindful of things like lighters, fires and other sparks, but also consider things like glass lenses catching and condensing the light onto dry grass and other actions that can innocently spark a blaze.

Drought is a helpless circumstance to those suffering it. Every little step our visitors take to help the Karoo keep going through this dry period will make a profound difference in the lives of her natives, animals and plants.

We at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge are always happy to help with even more great ideas about how you can help impact the area positively if you’re keen to find out more, and even the smallest water conservation will have big knock-on effects right now. Every drop counts!

We may be a little dry right now, but we look forward to offering you a warm Klein Karoo welcome all the same!