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Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Agulhas, Bontebok, Table Mountain, Tankwa Karoo, West Coast
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Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread postby WestCoaster » Thu May 05, 2005 7:53 am

I recently enjoyed the privilege of a weekend in the Tankwa Karoo National Park along with 6 other W Coast HRs, hosted by the TKNP Park Manager, Conrad Strauss. The Park, which is not officially open to the public yet, as they are still in the process of buying farmland to add to the area of the Park before fencing it in, is already huge, and a fascinating place to visit. It is basically an arid Park for most of the year, covered in flowers when (if) it rains and is situated just over 100kms out of Ceres off the R46/R355.

I strongly recommend this wonderful new Reserve, and am sure it will become popular when opened.

We stayed in a revamped farmhouse named Paulshoek, about 5 kms from Conrad's office and home. Paulshoek is a revamped farmstead. The water in the homestead is good to drink, but we took our own anyway. Wood for braai and donkey boiler is supplied, but we took our own hardwood to supplement the braai. A walk around outside before your evening braai after the heat of the day is recommended. Looking back from the farmstead along the road you came in on and to the left up the hill, you might spot a concrete dam (like the one at Varsfontein, another old farmstead currently being renovated for the day the Park is opened) that supplies Paulshoek with water. It's worth a visit on foot, and see if you can spot the amateur rock etchings (most are just scratchings, some are really good) on the black basalt rocks up the rise a little from the dam. They were made last century and early this one by the people who lived in Paulshoek. Just below these rocks in the direction of the road, you might notice small holes in the ground. These are gecko holes, living examples of which may be seen on the Paulshoek walls on your first night.

Places to visit include Varsfontein and the Gamamma(sp?) Pass, both of which provide wonderful Karoo vistas, strange plants and weird rocks. A 4X4 is recommended during the "rainy season" (sorry Conrad!). Vehicles with high ground clearance will survive longer than ordinary sedans.

The area has aardvark and porcupine in great abundance. Look out for these early morning and late afternoon. They can be heard at night outside the homestead grubbing for food. The area also has caracal (rooikat or lynx), both foxes - Cape and Bat-eared, as well as Black-Backed Jackal. Birds abound if you are into birds (look out for the most common birds of prey in the area, the Pale Chanting Goshawk, the Black Eagles in the pass, the Rock Kestrel and the Black Shouldered Kite). There are millions of LBJ's that defy identification! There are Mountain Zebra, a few Oryx (Gemsbok) and lots of Springbok, but you need to stop every now and then to spot them in the distance unless you are very lucky to come around a corner and catch them right in front of you. A program will be started as soon as the fences are complete (dependent on the purchase of another few farms - talk to Conrad for more info) to bring back all the game shot out by the previous tenants or farmers.

On your way home, I strongly recommend that you go back to Ceres via the Koue Bokkeveld turnoff (to your right on your way back along the R355 to Ceres) and up the mountain where, on looking back regularly, magnificent views of The Tankwa and the Klein Karoo are sights worth seeing. Also, the scenery is fantastic along that route, taking in the Kattebak Pass - so named for its steepness and the need in the old days to use reverse gear up and down the pass in order to have the power! Two T-junction left turns bring you back into Ceres via the village called "Hamlet" just outside town. Turn right back onto the R46 in Ceres.

Thanks, Conrad for a wonderful weekend. You will be seeing more of us!
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Unread postby hornbill » Fri May 06, 2005 7:49 am

We haven't seen much of the West Coast but what we have seen we have loved so this will be a definite visit for us when it's open. Thanks WC for letting us know about it.

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Unread postby s021700 » Wed Jun 01, 2005 11:44 am

Thanks for letting us know about the Park. It sounds wonderful. I hope you will let us know when it opens?
Perhaps we can arrange a forum trek when the big day arrives.
I would be happy to do the logistics if there are enough people interested. Send me a :thumbs_up: if you are keen.
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Tankwa- a must

Unread postby HennieD » Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:58 am

Tankwa had very good rains lately (in fact the first in 5years)and the flowers are magnificent , it beats Nievoudtville and Middelpos at the moment - was there the 4`th.If you want to see this wonder you must go there now especialy if you have only seen this area in the draught.
hennie bok

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Re: Tankwa- a must

Unread postby Jay » Sun Jul 16, 2006 7:33 pm

HennieD wrote:Tankwa had very good rains lately (in fact the first in 5years)and the flowers are magnificent , it beats Nievoudtville and Middelpos at the moment - was there the 4`th.If you want to see this wonder you must go there now especialy if you have only seen this area in the draught.


sigh..Oh how I wish....

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Unread postby MarkWildDog » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:56 pm

Whoa sounds quite nice :!:

Any population no's or pin boards at Tankwa :?:

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Unread postby dianne » Thu Jul 20, 2006 4:06 pm

Somebody mentioned Tankwa Karoo Flowers? There's an artcile with LOTS of pics on the home page...and here are a few to whet your appetites :)


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Unread postby arks » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:30 pm

Wow, Dianne, gorgeous pix! It's always a surprise to discover that what are (often common) wildflowers in SA are sold as pricey houseplants in the USA :lol: The things you learn from travels :wink:
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Unread postby leopardspotter » Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:01 pm

Thanks for the beautiful pic's Diannet :)
?

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Unread postby dianne » Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:04 am

Hey Arks...so they sell these in the US? These pics were taken by Letsie Coetzee and Conrad Strauss-these plants just fascinate me-a large number of these plants are rare and endemic...Namaqua, Tankwa Karoo, and Richtersveld all form part of this succulent karoo, which is really quite an extraordiary little spot on the planet-one of only 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world...it's been fun learning a little more about them all!

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Unread postby reinette » Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:03 am

Thanks for the pics Dianne. 2 weeks left before we will (hopefully still) also see the flowers. :)
Satara in Nov. Yippee!!!!!

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Unread postby dianne » Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:19 am

Hi...you should still catch the flowers yes...and i hope we can expect a full trip report :wink:

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Unread postby reinette » Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:23 am

Most definately! :) Just in another part of the forum. Had to change the route and won't be able to go to Twanka anymore. Will do it some other time....
Satara in Nov. Yippee!!!!!

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Unread postby arks » Fri Jul 21, 2006 1:50 pm

diannet wrote:Hey Arks...so they sell these in the US?

Yip, some of those little daisy-like flowers are sold at pot plants in US nurseries. And I saw something growing by the side of the road near the 3 rondavels that looked a like a wild zinnia. Here zinnias are a summertime annual and definitely not a wildflower. There are others, but not that I recall offhand — and I'm not very awake this morning, either :lol:
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Unread postby reinette » Mon Jul 24, 2006 3:52 pm

There is a possibility that we might manage to go to Tankwa-Karoo as well :pray:, this is if I can get my travel companions to take the long way home. I was just wondering if anybody can help with the best roads from Calvinia and then to Karoo NP, escpecially from Tankwa to Karoo.
Satara in Nov. Yippee!!!!!


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