Dec 19 & Jan 2020 – Greater Karoo

Two short trips combined in one report

1. Our Annual trip to The Tankwa Karoo for Lin’s Birthday just before Xmas
2. Via Karoo National park to Mountain Zebra at Cradock for my birthday in Jan & home via Tankwa.

Left early as usual, slow drive via Bains Kloof, Ceres and the R 355 and into Tankwa through Stonehenge and yes… again, brand new tyres, get puncture on rear left which I manage to plug & fix on the car but then bang the compressor packs up – oh great – tyre only has just over 1 bar in it. So we go slowly to Varschfonetin which sadly is now closed by Sanparks due to their inability to carry out or have the will to carry out maintenance but we know there is shade there so I get on the Sat phone to the park office and ask them to send a car with a compressor which duly arrives one hour later which was about right. Pumped up and off we go to book in at the office. I realise that I can’t be in the Tankwa without a compressor so I ask if I could borrow it for the next day (saturday before xmas) so that I can go into Calvinia and hopefully buy a replacement – no worries says he I’ll leave it at reception for you. We go up to our site at the top of Langkloof which has become a favorite since the sad demise of Varschfontein and we set up camp – beautiful clear skies evening. Magic sunsets & night sky.

Next morning we are up early only to find when we get to the office that the compressor is half way to Ceres – thanks for nothing – so with some trepidation we set off for Calvinia and luckily we have no issues. The tyre place in Calvinia closes at 11.30 on a Saturday – it is 11 – thereafter he charges triple rates to come out – yawellnofine. He puts a gator in the tyre and I go off to what passes for a Midas and buy a good portable compressor R 1600 – and then head back to the Tankwa via Middlepos and the Gannaka Pass.In case anyone wonders why I don’t just change the rear wheel for one of the two spares I carry – it is simple, I am no longer 35 LOL – a front wheel no issue but with the weight of the back of the car, no way Jose – it is what it is. I rely on being able to fix punctures on the car.

Up top at Langkloof

Langkloof has two camping places with abluts & kitchens, no electric – we book both so that we have total privacy & peace & quiet – there is a lot of life around up here – magic place to be –

Going out the next day we decide to go over to the N West side of the park close to the R 355 – somehow the stones seem to be sharper here and yep 2nd puncture same tyre – a minute hole; I connected the new compressor up – it has a screw on connection to the tyre valve and I didn’t realise that within short order I had 6 bar in the tyre – this atleast helped me find and plug the hole quick-stix – good job I bought a compressor hey ! 🙂

Roadblock ! 🙂

Back Home – 3 weeks later back on the road but this time across the Tankwa to just before Sutherland.

Favourite coffee & breakfast stop junction of R 355 & R 356

Road to Merweville en route to Beaufort West – must be a wealthy farmer lots of new gates & fences going up –

Merweville – amazingly enough for a small dorpie the clock still works !

Aberdeen to Graaff-Reinet

And into the Park near Cradock – Scotland, only with better weather. Talking of which we had temps of 42 degress and this was all about the skies – amazing displays – and huge storms – We took, as usual, one of the mountain huts up at the top of the park so that we would have total privacy and peace & quiet – the park was not that full however –

New-born having a frolick

A welcome sight

We took a night time drive outing which proved to be grossly uncomfortable and saw nothing worth taking note of – just how it is sometimes –

Three days later still extremely hot but we can see that the weather is changing – rain clouds and downpours in the distance – rain which is needed in this oh so dry area –

The lull before the storm….

And, there we are 1500 metres up and the storm hits – Crash, Bang, flash – Lin’s alltime favourite, along with heights 🙂 – just gotta sit it out – we had this two afternoons running, temp crashed from 38 down to 18 in seconds – Ah, but the smell of fresh rain on the veld – wonderful –

After the storm

Next storm coming…..

After the storm…………

Back at Karoo National Park Beaufort West

Travelling back into the Tankwa on the gravel roads after the rain –

so sad; seemingly deserted farmhouses

Down the Ouberg Pass which is now just a rough steep track, no maintenance whatsoever –

Back into the Tankwa Natioonal Park and a night at Paulshoek

Yeah right !

Swallow fighting the gale force winds; made for a good hot coals braai though 🙂 extrememly hot night – we should have put the tent up, the cottage was unbearable –

So a couple of good trips much enjoyed – the Karoo is either a place you love or hate no middle path here I think. The pity is that SanParks seems to have employed corporate people who think that the tourists want white fluffy towels – whereas the truth is that people who go to places like the Tankwa want nothing of the sort – they need to get their head around the fact that Varschfontein and similar is fine if a bit tatty around the edges – we don’t want the “Hilton” in the bush –

Another Observation – crossing from the Western Cape into the Eastern Cape 75kms on the road from Graaff-Reinet to Aberdeen there was some litter but nowhere near as bad as it was this time last year and in fact we saw teams out in their orange outfits cleaning up; a definite improvement all round. We did not go into Cradock itself so I cannot comment thereon.

Most enjoyable –

Albums at: My Photo Albums