December 2017 Tanqwa Karoo

December 2017 time for our annual trip to the Tanqwa Karoo and particularly Varschfontein in the S W Corner of the park – we have been coming here for years, sometimes twice a year so this is not so much a trip report as more recent updated photos exercise. For actual info see my previous entries here – Dec 2012, Dec 2013, Nov 2015 & Dec 2016.

The park never let’s you down which is more than can be said for SanParks for whom the word “Maintenance” seems to have gone AWOL.

How’s this for heavy irony? Cape Town is in the situation of a dead serious drought due to over-population and lack of planning in my opinion, we are using grey water to flush our loos, our gardens are dead, we are limited in the quantity of water we may use daily and yet and yet —— here we come to the Tanqwa Karoo some 2.5 hours drive from CT to one of the driest semi-desert regions in South Africa and what do we find ? A small dam overflowing with water, a windmill doing overtime in the wind, a storage tank overflowing, and our cottage becomes a “riverside” location. No way to turn anything off so the water just pours away to ground.

SanParks whilst an excellent organisation with wonderful parks all across the country is hell bent on building super upmarket accommodation in these parks but the word “maintenance” is seemingly non existent. The Cottage at Varschfontein has obviously been broken into at some stage – windows have been replaced, new putty has been left raw and the damage to the woodwork of the windows and doors can best be described as “repaired” in an amateur fashion. Someone needs to apply brain here and undertake the work required to ensure that places like this simply do not disappear due to lack of care.

We are quite happy with old farm buildings and a “donkey” with chopped wood for the water heating and no electricity – that’s why we come here – we don’t need your upmarket spaces – but please look after our heritage – OK Rant over –

Leaking & over-flowing JoJo

Overflowing dam

flow away water

“Riverside frontage Cottage”

you simply couldn’t make it up>

In any case apart from this we had a wonderful if somewhat hot and extremely windy time – so much so that on two nights we had to use the indoor fireplace to braai.

We went the long way around – i.e. CT to Ceres via Agter Paarl and then all the way up the R355 tyre eating road to Calvinia and then across and back down the R354 to Middlepos, the magnificent Gannaka Pass and then down into park and thence to Varschfontein – a round trip of some 580Kms with no incidents whatsoever, so I was a bit fed up when on the day before we were due to leave that I got a puncture, rear off side – sharp stone – which I managed to fix on the car with using the high lift jack and rim attachment to get it off the ground in order to plug. And then blow me down on our way out of the park on our way home yet another puncture, this time rear nearside, not so bad and was able to plug without lift. Sods law – haven’t had a tyre problem for ages and then two come along at once. Grrrr.

This is all I have to say – enjoy the photos. Cameras used: Lumix Panasonic Fz300 bridge camera, Canon 400D with EFS 10-22mm wide angle lens and Canon EF 75-300mm lens but mostly the Lumix which is the most convenient out in the bush in dusty conditions. Some edit in Lightroom and Affinity. I have recently started using the canon again so it was interesting to compare the results. CC welcome.

Out of Cape Town very early morning – balloon crossing national road

Coffee stop except “someone” left the kettle at home – great start 🙁

No luck at the Tanqwa Padsal either – closed Wedsnesdays – as they say in France “Ferme le Mercredi”

Coffee was eventually had in Calvinia ! Lunch break outside Middlepos R354

Just before Gannaka Pass

Gannaka Pass

She says to me can’t you load that rock it will be great in our new “waterless garden” – the trouble i had getting it up there 🙂

Beautiful Skies


Dust twister storm

Waterhole at cottage – also overflowing – damaged ball joint.

At Cottage

Night Sky

Windmill in overtime mode

Late at night – Clear Skies – hot as hell –

The next day – Yes I dig windmills 🙂

A much loved view – Klein Tafelberg in the distance

Threatening Clouds and yes we had some rain – not much – a few large drops and the wonderful smell the earth gives off at such times – was hoping for a good downpour but no such luck – lightening in the far distance –

Just admire how these were put together in such a hostile and barren environment

View from deserted farm building

Blazing dust storm

Another much loved view

Yes the Owls are still here in the unkempt palm trees


Double rainbow

Lovely Sky


Dramatic Sky

Rhin-aboripus – new species discovered ! 🙂

The Gemsbok come to drink – nervous as ever………..

Porcupine hiding in the wet overgrowth of the spring


Ok – so then I’ll go……………


Zebra & Bokkies too….

Windmill again ! Yes I know – but SERIOUS speed freak – thought it was going to come off.

Land of the Rising Sun

Daytime appearance – saw no mice this time so who knows what they are feeding on

Nervous Bokkies

Fishing ?? for what ??

Spring 12Km’s away from cottage

The Long Tanqwa Track

High jinks at the water hole

We kneel to drink………





End of a magic trip back to Cape Town Xmas Eve no traffic in our direction – has to be good……

R355 at Ceres End on a strip of tar – who owns this national monument – you NEVER see any evidence of anyone here ?

So apart from two punctures that I could well have done without, plus the extreme heat which did for the fridge batteries the first night, but sorted themselves thereafter – all good and fine. Love to be here, far away from people – and wind apart – noise – that said the wind was truly spectacular which is what gave us the surreal skies. Love this place. 🙂

Photo Album at:Photo Album