We are sad to leave the Karoo National Park and know that we will have to return. 18 hours really does not do justice to this gem. We still have not decided if we are driving straight through to Cape Town or if we are going to be adventurous and rather go to the Tankwa Karoo National Park and from there down to where ever Google Maps takes us. The road is flat and the Karoo landscape surrounds you and you find time to let your mind wander about the state of your life and work and where it is all going. Under the Karoo sky, my issues feel rather insignificant.
The road is flat and the Karoo landscape surrounds me and I find time to let your mind wander about the state of your life and work and where it is all going. Under the Karoo sky, my issues feel rather insignificant.
We have arrived in Lainsburg and time for a decision is near, all we remember about Lainsburg is that there was a huge flood that washed the whole town away in the 1970’s. The town’s history has proven to be quite fascinating. We stop at Aunt Poppie se roosterkoek (see recipe at bottom of page), oorkant Shell. Aunt Poppie runs her business next to the road and has become a bit of a Lainsburg legend by all accounts.
On our way out we stopped at Granaat Karoo Kafe, it was a home industry paradise with a selection of homemade products and all kinds of Lainsburg memorabilia too. We bought delicious homemade fudge, lemonade, and some local honey. it was time to make a decision so my companion rummaged around the centerpiece in the car to find a coin. Heads Tankwa, tails Cape Town. Tension builds and the coin is tossed, it’s heads which means Tankwa National Park, here we come! Tankwa is famous (to us at least) for AfricaBurn a gathering of people to create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costumes, music, and performances!
We have always wanted to explore Tankwa being host to the famous (to us at least) AfricaBurn gathering of people come together to create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costumes, music, and performances. One is supposed to be able to see the deserted art displays along the flat planes of the Tankwa Park and we can’t wait to share the experience with you.
4 hours later and we have finally arrived, we are surrounded by wide open space and not a person in sight. This is definitely not your average park, there are no gates or fences only arid land as far as the eye can see. Sticking to the main dirt road, we get to the information centre after about 35 km. Checking in is painless and we have a quick chat with the park manager “This park is totally different from all the others,” the former farmer’s son comments.
“People used to believe this area wasn’t worth anything, but they were completely wrong.” The veld is an explosion of colour with vygies, daisies and bulbs vying for attention. It’s a sight to rival the famous Namaqualand flower displays. The park manager tells us that the park is a hotspot of biodiversity with more than 3 000 plant species, the richest concentration of desert flora in the world. About 70 percent of the park’s plant species are found nowhere else.
Another surprise is the diversity of environments. In the west, desert-like conditions prevail, receiving about 30 millimetres of rainfall every year. But as you move east, everything changes. Soon grasslands appear, and out of the flatlands, tall flat-topped koppies stand sentinel. Then we are off to our cottage at Elandsberg and again the Tankwa surprise us, we thought it would be rustic but the five chalets (Elandsberg Wilderness Camp) looks out over a vast plain, framed on the horizon by the Roggeveld Mountains. Our cottage features a pool, braai area, deck chairs, kitchen, lounge and bedroom with a huge window in front of the double bed and an open shower.
We’re off to our cottage at Elandsberg and again the Tankwa surprises us, we thought it would be rustic but the five chalets (Elandsberg Wilderness Camp) look out over vast planes, framed on the horizon by the Roggeveld Mountains. Our cottage features a pool, braai area, deck chairs, kitchen, lounge and bedroom with a huge window in front of the double bed and an open shower. Showering may never be the same after showering in the open Karoo sky.
The following morning we were up early to catch the beauty of the Tankwa’s sunrise, before making our way along the 4×4 track to the top of the Elandsberg viewpoint. Here the entire park’s beauty and vast openness stretched out as far as the eye could see. The Tankwa Karoo is a rugged environment and we were not spared the fate of a flat tire. We suggest that you come prepared. The day continued with explorations of the rest of this magical landscape, and we eventually made our way back to our chalet. That night we were once again treated to another memorable display of Tankwa’s dramatic stars, it is really a sight to behold.
The following morning we bid farewell to this magnificent park, promising to return once again in the flower season. One thing the Twanka has taught us is that this is not a place to visit if you want to see many wild animals. It’s a place of stark beauty, peace, and quiet. Till we meet again.
Next week, after enough detouring, we finally make it to the Namaqualand Daisies and boy was the trip worth it!
Know before you go:
• Last stop for fuel is Ceres, Sutherland, and Middlepos
• Diesel available in the park
• No shops, restaurants or ATM’s
• No cellphone reception, but a pay phone at the Information Centre
• Wood is for sale in the park
Bring along with you:
• Insect repellent and sunblock
• Extra fuel, water, and spare tyre
• Birding books and Binoculars
• McNab’s Supercharge to get enough energy to change your flat tyre (should you have the same fate)
• McNab’s SuperChill to enjoy the night sky
- 5 Cups bread flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 10 g (one packet) Yeast
- ½ Cup of milk
- 50 ml Oil
- 1 Egg
- 2 Cups lukewarm water
- Place the dough in a dish and cover it with a cloth. Place in warm oven that has been preheated at very low temperature and let it rise until double in size. It will take about 1 hour, depending on your dough.
- Have a flat baking tray ready that you have sprinkled with flour.
- Remove the dough from the oven. DO NOT knead the dough. Break off small pieces without flattening it and place on prepared baking tray. Repeat until all the dough has been used. I do sprinkle a little flour on the top as not to dry it out.
- Place the dough back in the oven to rise.
- Remember, Cook your Roosterkoek rolls first before you start braaiing.
- When the fire is ready, clean the grill.
- Carefully place the little Roosterkoek rolls on the grill without touching it on the top. Turn the Roosterkoek rolls using braai tongs. Grip it on the sides to turn, that will prevent you from flattening the Roosterkoek rolls. It takes about 10 minutes, depending on the heat of your fire.
- Enjoy with your preferred fillings, we like it with a thick spreading of jam and a mound of cheese. YUM!