Tankwa Karoo NP/Elandsberg Cottages

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

Moderators: ritad, RosemaryH, lion queen, Crested Val

User avatar
kwabo0802
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:13 pm
Location: Oor die berg

Tankwa Karoo NP/Elandsberg Cottages

Unread post by kwabo0802 »

We have booked a cottage at the Elandsberg in the Tankwa Karoo. Now we heard from recent visitors that they have a major problem in de dry season (which are the summer months) with thousands of bees who come to fetch water from the plunge pools for their hives. They have seen people leave the cottage prior to their planned departure because of the bees. If you cannot enjoy the outside (nor the inside as I was told) while you are there, what is the use of going there in the first place? I wonder if there is any one who has experienced this problem.
User avatar
kwabo0802
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:13 pm
Location: Oor die berg

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by kwabo0802 »

Thank you Joseph, I am sorry to hear you had to leave aerlier. Our problem (if the bees will be around when we arrive) has been solved. We simply booked another cottage as alternative escape. This should not be necessary, I understand the bees form part of nature's way of life but as you say they cannot say "oops" when somebody with a bee allergy gets into tropuble there.

Joseph Barry wrote:Yes we were there during Desember and had a bad experience with bees.

We had a 5 month old baby at that stage and was were scared of her being stung.

The good and the bad was that my wife got stung and we had to leave the next day (an day earlier) to get her to a doctor. +/- 180km to Clanwilliam plus a blow-out.

We complained to the office and the reply was a "oops" one.

I will definitely go back but in the hart of the winter.

We did put in a formal complaint to the office because if somebody does have serious allergy to bees that person might have a problem.
siy
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:01 pm

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by siy »

kwabo0802,

We were there (Elandsberg) 2 weeks ago with our 10-month old!! WHAT AN AMAZING PLACE...... anybody who does not LOVE it, must be a bit bonkers!!

Regarding bees and the splashpool.... I did not notice a single bee, but the birds do come and drink from the splashpool, especially early in the morning. I can however imagine that bees could be a problem.

We found the camp staff INCREDIBLY friendly and helpful - so much so that the park manager even offered to lend me his BRAND NEW tyre after I had a bad puncture. Eventually we got the puncture sorted with help from the camp staff. Someone else had fuel trouble and the staff went way beyond what was expected of them to help the guy out.

Like I say, a MAGICAL place!! If you can, take along an EXTRA spare tyre - i.e 2 spares!! The roads are good, but as the T4A maps say, "tyre failure imminent"!! There is also no cellphone reception and not a lot of traffic, so help is not always close by.

ENJOY!!!!
User avatar
Dreamer
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 619
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:23 pm
Location: Cape Town

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by Dreamer »

@kwabo0802 :D
We stayed at Elandsberg on 27 April and I think your statement of being an AWESOME place and those not enjoying it a bit BONKERS is an UNDERSTATEMENT!!!! :D :D :D
AWESOME
@siy *SIGH* *SIGH* oh to be there now would be BLISS!!
We can't wait to return.
The staff at reception and those who came to clean the units were friendly, helpful. They sure have been given some good PR training :thumbs_up: :clap:
As far as birds and bees... NO bees but birds a plenty coming to drink at the pool :D
Promise to post a couple of pics shortly.
At home...... dreaming of next trip to KTP
annie R
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Cape Town

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by annie R »

We've recently come back from a stunning trip to Tankwa and I think we left our hearts in the wilderness there. We camped at Pyper se Boom, with wraparound views of the beautiful karoo mountains and plains. We had a chorus of birds singing us to sleep in the evening. From the call of one of them I think I've identified it as the rufouscheeked nightjar - can anyone confirm this? I also managed to identify pale chanting goshawk (a bit like a fierynecked nightjar, but I wasn't falling for that!). If anyone else knows what nightbirds are common in that area, I'd love to hear from them.

I sooooo loved that beautiful place I can just feel a blog coming on, probably in the next week or so...
annie R
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Cape Town

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by annie R »

Is no one able to say which nightbirds are common in Tankwa (see my posting above)? I reckon I've pretty much nailed the rufouscheeked nightjar but the memory of the other sounds I heard is already starting to fade so if you have any suggestions please send them before my Auditory Alzheimer's takes over entirely! But the memory of that magical place hasn't faded at all - if you want to know why you should visit - or go again - see my latest blog at the signature below.
User avatar
Toko
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 14895
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:51 pm

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by Toko »

Hi, annie R

I think - I have lost my heart there as well :)

Here is a bird list:
http://www.google.de/search?sourceid=na ... nkwa+karoo
annie R
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Cape Town

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by annie R »

Thanks for the bird list, Toko. I'll comb through it and see what night birds I can find apart from the nightjars and owls, whose calls I already know.

Funny how so few people venture to Tankwa and just about everyone who does falls in love with it...
Bart47
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:15 pm

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by Bart47 »

Looking at all the pictures and reading the stories this must be an awesomeplace.
But what is the weather in beginning of june? I don't mind the cold but rain wouldn't be very nice.
Do i need a 4 x4 to get there?
annie R
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Cape Town

Re: Tankwa Karoo NP

Unread post by annie R »

Bart, I'm not sure about rain although I think it gets only about 25% of its rain in summer so there's a good chance of rain in winter (I'm open to correction here.) I know it can be very cold - June temperatures are usually in the region of 8-15 or so degrees, but ask @moggiedog, who was there in the snow last June about how cold and squishy it can be! You don't really need a 4x4 to get to reception and some of the areas, but if you're camping you'll need one because the roads are pretty rugged. Even to get to some of the farmhouses a 4x4 is advisable in winter. Also, if it has been raining or snowing, a 4x4 is a must. I suggest you phone Tankwa reception and ask, tel 027 341 1927. The very helpful Juliana or others will be able to advise you. Another tip is to carry extra fuel too, because there's none sold in the park and the nearest fuel stations are at Ceres, Sutherland, Middelpos and Calvinia 100km or more away.

I think there's a Tankwa guru on this forum so she should be able to answer you questions more fully.
Elephant's Eye
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:14 am

Tankwa Karoo bees at Elandsberg cottages

Unread post by Elephant's Eye »

We wish that SANParks had a waterhole for the wildlife,
instead of an unusable plunge pool.

These 'problem bees' are solitary, building their nests in the mud walls. Using pollen to feed the larva, in the flower season. They need water to seal the mud nests.

No idea if the plunge pool is usable out of the flower season. But we came to see the flowers, and were sad to spend time skimming drowning bees and wasps off the surface. And to see birds battling desperately, to cling to the concrete rim, against the stiff breeze, and the water being circulated by the solar powered filter.

Come on SANParks we need a wildlife friendly waterhole. Please?
User avatar
letsiec
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:51 pm
Location: Limpopo Province

Re: Tankwa Karoo bees at Elandsberg cottages

Unread post by letsiec »

Dear Elephants Eye,

Thank you for your valued input and concern for the smaller members of our beautiful park.

We do indeed have two waterholes for wildlife use within a two to three kilometer radius of the cottages at Elandsberg. It is not our policy to construct waterholes in the immediate proximity of tourism accommodation unless boreholes and other infrastructure necessitate this. In order to prevent damage to vegetation and improve movement of animals throughout the whole landscape and therefore ensure greater resilience of all species concerned, it is not practice to construct water points closer than a 5km radius from one another. Therefore we will unfortunately not be able to construct any further animal water points within the Elandsberg vicinity.

Small birds, rodents and insects will always make opportunistic use of any available water source and hence the use of our splash-pools. The covers for the pools, apart from a safety precaution to prevent small children falling into the pools and limit evaporation of water, is also a deterrent to prevent insects and birds making use of the pools. We therefore propose to request our visitors to ensure the pool is covered at all times when not in use. A floating “island” will also be put into pools to aid any birds, etc. that may accidentally fall into the pool, should the pool be uncovered and unattended for limited periods.

I hope this finds you in order and assures you of our concern for the park and all its inhabitants.

Kind regards,
Letsie Coetzee
SR Planning & Development
Mapungubwe National Park & World Heritage Site
Elephant's Eye
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:14 am

Re: Tankwa Karoo bees at Elandsberg cottages

Unread post by Elephant's Eye »

Dear Letsie,

Thanks, I have added a link and part of your reply to my blog post.

The tarpaulin helps, but we did still see determined bees crawling under the tarpaulin. I think they like to climb into the dripping inlet pipe.

Looking forward to seeing the first Floating Island ;~)

Regards from Diana in Porterville
charldurand
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:33 pm

Re: Tankwa Karoo bees at Elandsberg cottages

Unread post by charldurand »

We stayed at Elandsberg in December for three days (and were so impressed we immediately booked another ten for September!!) and here are my thoughts on the birds and the bees (at the splash pool I mean :)).

It's a situation I don't think the park management can ignore.

One has to accept that the bees have first option at the pool. They're part of the 'wild life' after all. But their presence at the pool varied enough to allow us dips during the morning and late afternoon, sort of before they rise, and after bee bed time. But for better or worse the splash pools are theirs during the day.

The birds manage quite well, dipping forward to drink water from the side, and we watched hundreds of them have a drink without any casualties. I placed a bowl of water on the side wall for them thinking it may help them, but they seemed to actually _prefer_ the pool.

Fortunately the bees are not aggressive but I think sooner or later a person with an allergy will get stung and there'll be an emergency, inevitably lawyers will be involved, which will mean the end of the splash pools. Pity, as we enjoyed them as couch potato bird watching spots.

I'm not a bee expert, but someone who is may also be able to come up with a solution, perhaps there's some ointment or other that'll keep them away?

All in all, after many, many visits to other national parks Elandsberg gets my vote as the ultimate getaway-from-it-all park destination, bees or no bees.
User avatar
letsiec
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:51 pm
Location: Limpopo Province

Re: Tankwa Karoo bees at Elandsberg cottages

Unread post by letsiec »

Hi there,

I am so glad you enjoyed our little friends and the cottage so much that we will be seeing you again in September! :)

I can assure you that we, as management, are not ignoring the bees and are mindful of our guests’ safety. However, as extermination of the bees or closing of splash pools are the absolute last resort, it has taken a bit longer to look at all the various options available to us. Thus far we have had bee specialists in the park and looked at preventative measures prescribed in other National Parks. We are presently sourcing the “ointments” (proved to be quite a headache to find locally…) as suggested by these policies and will discuss with our SANParks entomologist to ensure all’s safe for all. Training in bee removal unfortunately had to be postponed last year, but will be scheduled as soon as possible within the next month or so. I believe the training will provide our staff with the adequate knowhow to deal with the problems associated with bees at public facilities. The floating platforms (called Froglog and deemed as the best device available to aid insects and our other little friends to climb out of pools), as per one of my previous posts, have also been obtained. Along with other procedures to be put in place, I am sure these will have a marked affect on bee presence at cottages as well as their drowning in pools, which may inadvertently cause stings to their human “co-users”.

Bees are not normally aggressive when they are at water sources and highly unlikely to sting someone, as they are not at their hive to protect food and young, as are the bee swarms “kicked out” of the hive when it gets a bit over crowded. However, understandably, the sight of / a swarm of bees head butting you to get to the water as well, could be a bit :) frightening. With regards to bee stings - we do have emergency procedures in place (called Immediate Action Drills) should any medical emergency occur in the park, with staff also trained in first aid. Until such time as we are sure that our interventions are working, we will provide visitors with procedures to follow (which will include notifying us should they have severe allergic reaction to bee sting) should bees be present at their accommodation unit and to aid prevention of bees at units.

One of our recent visitors have made some suggestions we will also be looking in to. If there are any suggestions from the forum, please feel free to contact us.
Letsie Coetzee
SR Planning & Development
Mapungubwe National Park & World Heritage Site
Post Reply