Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Agulhas, Bontebok, Table Mountain, Tankwa Karoo, West Coast

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WestCoaster
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Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by WestCoaster »

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.
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Tankwa- a must

Unread post by HennieD »

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.
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reinette
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Unread post by reinette »

If've got some mail from the section ranger at Twanka-Karoo NP and asked if I could but it ont he forum. Think it will be nice for the forum community to know what planning is going on in a less familiar park.
Tankwa National Park is in the process of planning a five cottage rest camp in the Elandsberge.
The cottages will be built with rock (from clearing of site and excavation of foundations) for the foundation walls and unbaked clay-and-straw bricks made locally, as was done in a bygone era.
This building method can still be seen in the many ruins within the park.
The cottages will be placed on the contour of one of the hills and situated such that they are not visible from one another, with a view of the Roggeveld Escarpment.
Each cottage will consist of an open-plan kitchen and living area, bathroom and one bedroom, sleeping a total of four.
Other features in/adjacent to each cottage include a fire place, Oregon Pine window frames, doors and shutters, a shower with a view of the Roggeveld Escarpment, braai-area and carport.

However, to better our visitors’ experience, we would appreciate it if you could give your point of view on the following:
Which would you prefer?
a) Solar power with 220volt lights, ceiling fans in the living room and bedroom as well as electric sockets for other electrical appliances
b) Solar power with 220volt lights and ceiling fans in the living room and bedroom
c) Solar power with 220volt lights, electric sockets, ceiling fans as well as a splash-pool per unit
d) Paraffin lamps and candles with a splash-pool situated at your unit
e) Paraffin lamps are fine with me, who needs electricity and pools when you are in the Tankwa Karoo? J
f) Other – please specify

For those who have not yet visited the Park, please bear in mind that the Tankwa Karoo is an area of extreme temperatures: from a minimum of about 7ºC in winter and reaching up to 46ºC in summer.
Tankwa National Park is, among others, also characterised by its vast open spaces and quiet, starry nights.
While we would like to offer guests the most comfort possible, we wish to stay as close as possible to the true character of this unique area.

Please feel free to contact me should there be any queries or any other comments with regards to this.
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Bentony
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Unread post by Bentony »

If one wanted to see the wild flowers in Tankwa when would be the best time of year to go up?
An I also right in thinking that they offer horse safaris? Is so, is it possible to do both at the same time or is it still too cold? :?
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Unread post by restio »

Bentony, the exact timing depends on the rain. I doubt they offer horse safaris - see below.

SANParks website wrote:The Tankwa Karoo National Park is designated as a Scientific National Park, and as such offers no visitor facilities. The park is not open to the public as a rule, but through direct contact with the park management, special entry permission can be requested. However with panoramic views over semi-desert landscapes bursting into a flower paradise during August and September while the spectacular Roggeveld mountains lurks on the horizon and the Rhenoster River flowing through the park, this is a magnificent part of South Africa nobody want to miss. Only two Southern African regions have been bestowed the honour of designation as Biodiversity Hotspots by Conservation International. One is of course the Cape Floral Kingdom, and the other the Succulent Karoo.
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Unread post by reinette »

It should be round about August - September. The same as for Namaqualand. As Restio said, it all depends on the rain. You can always contact the park. The people on the ground will be able to help with your question. :)
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Unread post by dianne »

New accommodation info added to the website
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Re: Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by Solvej »

Has anyone information on accommodation at Die Mond in the Tankwa Karoo Park? I can see that there is self catering accommodation looking at Slingby's latest map of the Cederberg.
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Re: Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by letsiec »

Hi there,

Die Mond is indeed situated within the Tanqua Karoo Region but NOT in the Tankwa Karoo National Park. You can contact Mr & Mrs Hough at 027 341 2330 or 027 341 2334 for further details with regards to Die Mond. For bookings at Tankwa National Park, you can contact our office directly at 027 341 1927 - as we are not on the central booking system of SANParks, all bookings are currently handled from the park itself.

If the map indeed indicates that Die Mond is situated within TKNP, I would appreciate it if you could let me know in order for us to rectify the problem as soon as possible and thereby prevent further confusion.
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Re: Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by francoisd »

I see on the accommodation page that the following are listed:
Car Biesjiesfontein (CK15)
Car Volmoesfontein (CK15)

I manged to locate Volmoesfontein close to Pramberg but cannot find Biesjiesfontein.

Both seems to be the "leave your footprints only" camping areas. The "Car" prefix supposedly means that you can reach these with a sedan. Having travelled the road to Volmoesfontein from Elandsberg Camp side I think this might be true only if there was no rain in a long time as in February 2008 there was evidence of large patches of clay that would bog down 4x4s never mind a sedan. When I was there these clay areas was however dry. I assume in August it would still be too wet to do in a sedan, also coming down the slope from Maansedam side.

What is the road condition like coming to Volmoesfontein form the Tanqua Guesthouse side? On the map one would turn right at the T-junction after the guesthouse for the shortest route to the Volmoesfontein. If one turn right at the T-junction there is a spot with thick sand close to the no entry sign/exit of the road leading to Tweefontein. That patch of sand was impassable in 2008 with a sedan.

Can someone maybe indicate where Biesjiesfontein is located on the map?
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letsiec
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Re: Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by letsiec »

Hi there,
I am not sure which map you have but I presume it will be the one on the SANParks website under http://www.sanparks.org/parks/tankwa/im ... 3Oct08.jpg.

I note that Biesjesfontein is not indicated on this map as yet. However it is indicated on new maps given to our guests. I will ensure an up to date copy replaces this on our website soonest.

When viewing the above map, you will note a spring and windmill indicated to the left of Volmoersfontein and Pramberg. This is the position of the Biesjesfontein Camp.

You are correct – visitors making use of these campsites have to be fully self-sufficient, as the sites do not have any ablutions or running water for that matter. The water from the spring at Volmoersfontein is extremely brackish and not for human use (although it is notably fresher after good rains). The “car” prefix is indeed an indication of the type of vehicle that can be used to reach the campsites. As all the roads in the Park (and those leading to the park) are gravel, a sedan (and especially a low profile one!) is not the best mode of transport for this area, but visiting the park by sedan is not altogether impossible as the number of guests visiting the park by this mode of transport indicates.

The clay patch you are referring to has a road to bypass it when impassable. Depending on when in August you visit the park, this should more than likely be dry and passable by sedan. The water relay humps (the slope coming down from Maansedam), makes travelling by sedan slightly uncomfortable but there are no hassles with regards to slippery conditions or getting stuck here.

There is only one sandy patch within TKNP I am aware of on the way to the Tanqua Guesthouse Complex/Volmoersfontein or Biesjiesfontein. In February this may indeed not be passable by sedan as the soil will be very loose, while in winter it retains some moisture and thus provide a more “solid” road. Other areas of potential concern are a number of spots where watercourses run over the road (within and outside Park boundaries) – problematic due to the largely unpredictable nature of rains during summer, the road possibly being damaged due to water running over the road, pools of water standing or water still flowing over the road. After the heavy rains experienced during 2008, the Oudebaaskraal Dam also overflowed and washed away the road below the dam, which connects this section of the Park with the Volmoersfontein and Biesjesfontein areas. The road was rebuilt after this and is currently accessible by sedan, but this status all depends on rains for the remainder of the year! :wink:

We do plan to have the “clay patch” fixed as the problem is mainly caused due to this section of the park being lower than others, providing an area where water can accumulate. Fixing the other spots of potential concern is slightly more difficult as this means fighting a battle against Mother Nature! :)

I advise chatting to the Park Personnel when making a booking and again just prior to your visit, as they would be aware of the condition of the roads and especially the various points of concern, for the period you wish to visit. Possible detours, should certain sections be impassable, could also be discussed in more detail.

Hope this helps!

Letsie
Last edited by letsiec on Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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letsiec
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Re: Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by letsiec »

Hi there!

Sorry about the map - my technological brain ceased to function properly on Monday! :redface:

An updated map of the park was loaded onto our website - http://www.sanparks.org/parks/tankwa/im ... june09.jpg . Biesjesfontein is indicated on this.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further info on the road conditions or any other matters related to Tankwa.
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Re: Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by eh0109 »

Hallo Letsie

I have a few questions regarding the new Tankwa map:

I assume the blue flags are park entrances. The road through Jackalsfontein towards the guesthouse, marked 11.7 km on the map, is it open to the public? (I do not want to tresspass on private property!!!)

What is the Jaghut?


I also assume the guesthouse now falls under SanParks. Do we phone you guys for reservations?

Baie dankie sien julle weer
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letsiec
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Re: Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by letsiec »

Hi guys,

Yes, the blue flags indeed indicate the main entrance points to Tankwa NP – the crossed squares indicating where access is not allowed. The road through Jackalsfontein is only open to guests who have been booked in at one of the Tanqua Guesthouse Units. All other guests still have to report to our offices at Roodewerf. I am at present busy sourcing signage for these turn-offs, and if all goes according to plan, it should be erected by the end of September.

The Oudebaaskraal and Ymasqua Properties, on which the Tanqua Guesthouse Complex is situated, was bought by SANParks during late 2007. Currently the accommodation is only used on a self-catering basis and is ideal for larger groups – the main building can accommodate up to 10 guests with the smaller unit, about 100m away, able to accommodate a maximum of 8 guests. You can contact our office for reservations, do an online booking or contact the Central Reservations office for a booking.

Die Jaghut was used as an overnight facility for duck hunters after the construction of the Oudebaaskraal Dam. At present it is not included into our accommodation for rent as it currently only has the bare essentials. However, guests who are interested in staying at Die Jaghut and willing to “rough-it”, can contact the Park office for more info.
Letsie Coetzee
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letsiec
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Re: Tankwa Karoo NP: INFO

Unread post by letsiec »

Hi there,

There are indeed flowers in the park – Varschfontein & Pramberg/Volmoersfontein area, and scattered throughout the Park for that matter. Bulbs are not out yet (in Roggeveld section of the Park) due to the prevalent cold temperatures.

The Karoopoort Area, as you cross from tar to gravel from Ceres, also promises a beautiful show of Mesembs and other flowering shrubs.

The Park is quite dry – the last rains worth mentioning occurring around the 14th of July. No rains are predicted for the coming weekend. From Ceres the road is in very good condition as this has been graded. Just be aware of a couple of points from about 50km from Roodewerf, which has not been fixed yet. Roads in the park have not been graded recently, so some care will be required when using a sedan during this coming weekend. Please also see our “Dirt Road Driving Tipshttp://www.sanparks.org/parks/tankwa/tourism/general.php.

Regards,

Letsie
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