Desolation and life abundant at Tankwa Karoo National Park

Karoo Sand Stones and sand Suculent

Natal is home, the place where all of my inner cogs slot together.  The Karoo is where I find inner peace.  In the Karoo the small, solid centre of my Russian doll self rejoices as outer shells are cast off.  Our one night at Tankwa Karoo National Park, was not enough.  A minimum of 2 nights should be spent there, with a good stock of supplies I would love to stay there for a month.   While driving about 35 km from the entrance to the office, and 45 km from the office to Varsfontein cottage on rutted dirt roads the paraphernalia of daily existence is pushed away from consciousness.   Superfluous fluff burns from the minds surface, the mental landscape stretches and flexes, mirroring the desert profile.  As without, so within.

Resevoir Swimming resevoir Varsfontein Cottage Varsfontein Room Wagon Windmill

Vastness may be daunting, one member of our family gathering of 10, would not step outside of the cottage.  Others feared snakes and scorpions, yet I feel more in danger in city life.  Varsfontein Cottage is not for everyone.  It is very isolated, it is very rustic.  There is no electricity, lamps and candles lit our evenings.  If you want hot water (unlikely in summer heat) you need to light a fire under the donkey geyser.  You will either love it or hate it, it is not a place for wishy-washy, middle of the road feelings.  I loved it, there my spirit soared in wild unencumbered freedom.

Ardvark skeleton Gecko

The scenery’s facade of desolation is an illusion.  The desert calls you, to stop and look, not glance but to actively observe.  See the patchwork of countless animal tracks in the sand.  See the owls perched in palms on your doorstep.  See the porcupine in the light of the full moon.  See antelope and birds drinking at the waterhole.  See the purest blue of the sky.  Then flatten your soul against the horizon, feel your pulse synchronise with earth and in that harmony, find yourself in a dance where your body fluidly follows the music of silence.


I would love to be at Tankwa Karoo National Park on a moonless night witnessing a riot of stars.  I would love to be there when a rare storm breaks, to be part of a grand quenching.  I would love to be there again, just to be there, just to be.

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  1. Oh gosh, our family will love it – without a doubt!

  2. Oh what a way you have with words! I really enjoyed reading this post. Like listening to the brush of the leaves as the wind blows and your soul soar, filled with thoughts of contentment on a tranquil moonlight evening! Thank you 🙂

  3. Sulu, you have such a way with words that you almost made me want to go there 🙂 sadly I prefer modern amenities. Even when we camped/caravanned we were more equipped than most self catering accomodation we have stayed at, even more than the over priced Villa we stayed in in December. I could do the solitude and isolation just not the very rustic 🙂

    • 🙂 Bet you wouldn’t have enjoyed swimming in the mossy resevoir either then lol. That is the one thing I would have liked different, either a real swimming pool or a clean resevoir

  4. What a great holiday. We used to spend holidays in the Kalahari every year when we had family there. How I miss the wide open spaces.

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