On Friday I packed up frank and headed for the Tankwa Karoo National Park (TKNP). It is about 320km north east of Cape Town. TKNP is on the border of the northern and western cape which is a very unique part of South Africa. The park is basic, remote, extremely beautiful and most importantly completely self-sufficient. If you don’t take it, you don’t have it.
There are several routes to get there. I opted to take the shortest and most direct route. This is via the N1 east, through the Huguenot tunnel which is spectacular, then Ceres and finally about 140km of gravel before reaching Tankwa reception.
You get to pick from one of five cottages spread throughout the park and all unique. I stayed in the De Zyfer cottage, a 100 year old converted farm house. Then there are two formal campsites, meaning they have facilities and finally several informal campsites. These are spread throughout the camp and have no facilities.
The most important pointer for TKNP is that everything here is basic. At reception you can only check-in, buy wood and use their very basic wifi. There is nothing else. No shop, bar, restaurant etc, this goes for the rest of the park as well. This includes cellphone and the nearest gas station is more than 50km away.
Mostly TKNP is a place to break away from the hustle and bustle of our busy city lives. In fact it is perfect for that. Perfect peace and quiet with breath taking landscapes. Don’t expect fancy restaurants and cocktails. The highlights here are driving up the Gannaga pass, completing one of the 4×4 routes, searching for wildlife, birds and indigenous plants. Or at night scanning the skies for next level star gazing.
Take enough fuel, this includes some to explore the park
Download the map beforehand from the SANParks website
Deflate your tyres, all the roads in the park are gravel
Reception closes at 17:30 everyday
Stop at the Tankwa padstal, 80km after Ceres. They have free wifi
No shops, restaurants, public phones or ATMs in the park.
They accept credit cards at reception
No cell signal anywhere in the park
Not all the cottages have electricity, only gas stoves and paraffin lamps
No AC, so go in the winter if you can
Even though Tankwa was a last minute decision I was pleasantly surprised by what I found upon arrival. I have not enjoyed a stay as much as I did this one in a very long time. Probably, also because it reminded me so much of Namibia. The space, the lack of people, the endless gravel roads, the quiet and glowing skies at night. Tankwa will not be for everyone, but perfect for some.