Page » Blogs » Tankwa Karoo - a must see for any visitor to South Africa

  • Tankwa Karoo - a must see for any visitor to South Africa

    Posted by Werner Smit January 24, 2014 - 5,961 views - 1 comment - 1 like - #leopard  #Tankwa Karoo  #Karoo  #arid  #succulents  #baboon 

    Tankwa Karoo – a must see for any visitor to South Africa

    The region
    The Karoo is a very unique arid region located in South Africa and seen as one of the largest semi deserts in the world. The Tankwa Karoo is a smaller region in the Karoo area and is one of the less travelled areas in South Africa, even by South African travellers.

    Arid Landscape
    The Tankwa Karoo receives an average of only 200mm of rain per year, making it one of Africa’s most arid regions. Although stretched over two South African provinces namely the Western Cape and Northern Cape, many travellers has referred the Tankwa Karoo as a mini-Namibia, because of its dry riverbeds and succulents.

    A Must visit
    It is a must visit area for travellers wanting to experience an “old world” and “no one near us” feeling with red glowing sunsets and the sounds of absolute silence. I have been very privileged to have visited and travelled through the Tankwa Karoo many times and even called it my home for more than a year at a very remote 3000 hectares farm surrounded by mountains, African wildlife and succulent plant species.


    Unique history
    The Tankwa Karoo has a allot of mysteries and untold stories and visitors to the area can start their journey by visiting the Ceres Transport Riders Museum and find a collection of ox-wagons dating back to the 1700’s and 1800’s, when the railways were not present in South Africa yet. It has been said that some of the last bushman people left the area only 25 years ago. Many of this proofs to be in most of the San rock art drawings and engravings that can be found in caves and rock formations in the area and some dating back thousands of years, while others only a 100 years, as Victorian and Colonial displays are very present in the bushman drawings.


    San rock art
    There are a number of san rock art and bushman painting sites all over the Tankwa Karoo and some still undiscovered although we are already in 2014. I had the privilege to be part of a team whom discovered a set of new san rock art paintings 4 years ago deep in the Swartruggens Mountains. There are a number of san rock art tour guides in the Ceres region to guide visitors to some of these mysterious sites.


    The Tankwa Karoo also has a number of unique routes to travel such as the katbakkies pass and the skittery berg pass. Both routes are located more in the southern region of the Tankwa Karoo, but definitely worth driving through with a number of accommodations to stay over for a night or two nearby. Accommodations in the region are mostly in the form of farm or lodge accommodation with very friendly and warm hospitality.


    Places of interest and events
    Driving further up north in the Tankwa Karoo on the R355 route a must stopover is at the “Tankwa padstal”, which is a small shop right next to the road and travellers can purchase anything from a cold beer to a packet of sugar and a home pregnancy test at the curio shop or bar. The Tankwa Karoo area became very popular for adventure seekers and free spirited people in the last few years. Afrikaburn is an annual event for these adventurous travellers to the Tankwa Karoo and forms part of a community of participants who come together each April to create art, burning structures and theme camps.


    Fauna and Flora
    This semi desert region of South Africa is also home to a number of animal species such as springbok, klipspringer, duiker, leopard, black backed jackal, cape baboon and many interesting bird species can be found here as well. During the South African Spring season which is from late August to October, visitors can experience a world of succulent floral splendour. Although an arid region, the Karoo is home to more than 9000 species of plants, which is more species that can be found in the whole of Great Britain.


    Tankwa Karoo National Park
    The Tankwa Karoo is also home to one of South Africa’s 19 National parks and managed by SAN parks. The Tankwa Karoo National Park is situated on the southern boundary of the Northern Cape with the Cederberg in the West and Klein Roggeveld Mountains in the south. This 143 600 hectares park is only a four hour drive from Cape Town with various accommodations in and around the park. Typical Karoo species can be found here as well and very much like all other parts of the Tankwa Karoo.


    The Tankwa Karoo being the driest area of the Karoo receives minimal rain throughout the year most occurring in the winter months between May and August, but the odd summer thunderstorms can be expected during February and March. Winter temperatures are around 5°C to 15°C and in summer months the temperatures can be extremely hot and can easily reach between 36°C to 40°C.


    Vital Information
    The last stops for fuel are in Ceres, Sutherland, Calvinia and Middelpos. All these towns are more than a 100km from the Tankwa Karoo. Motorcyclists should take extra care when driving on the gravel roads. Give yourself a 3 to 4 hour driving time to the area from Cape Town when driving through the town of Ceres. There are no shopping centres, restaurants, public phones or ATMs in the Tankwa Karoo and very little to no cell phone reception within this arid zone.


    Why visit?
    The Tankwa Karoo truly is a very unique arid region with activities such as 4x4, game drives, hiking, star gazing, san rock art tours and many more. The area will be much more appreciated by travellers, when travelling without younger children and is best for visitors wanting to have a romantic getaway and to visit an area off the beaten track that leaves one with a peace and tranquillity seldom found in today’s busy world.


  • 1 comment