By Erika Taylor
If you're an adventurous and hardy traveler, a trip into the Tankwa Karoo in the Northern Cape, South Africa, might just be what you need to get your heart beating faster.
The vast and rugged semi-desert is not for the faint of heart. It’s remote and most of the area does not have cell phone reception. Starkly beautiful, it’s part of the larger Karoo biome.
The road into the Tankwa seems endless, and the amazing stretch of blue sky will keep you feeling calm, even when the road is rough, and you end up losing your number plate, or have to replace one of your tires. The view is breathtaking, and your entire world becomes a vast, open space. The silence can be overwhelming if you’re used to the noisy, busy city life, but it helps you re-establish your bond with nature.
You’ll come across isolated mountain ranges that add a sense of drama to the horizon. The Tankwa can in a sense be compared to a minimalist work of art, where even the vegetation is sparse, and consists mostly of hardy shrubs and other desert plants. The plants store water in their stems or leaves, which helps them survive in this desert environment.
If you’re up for a wild bush camp, you can meet some of the local wildlife that have adapted to the dry conditions. Be on the lookout for onyx, springbok, meerkats and reptiles. The region also has a diversity of birdlife that will delight birdwatchers.
If you’re planning on visiting the Tankwa in April or May 2024, you should catch the yearly Afrikaburn festival that’s inspired by the Burning Man festival held in the US. Join the local community as they celebrate art and self-expression.
Since the Tankwa is so remote, and the roads are rough, you need to plan and prepare carefully. Make sure you have enough water, food, navigation tools, and an extra tire or two when you travel through the area. Many travellers have reported having to stop on their journey, to make minor repairs to their cars, like having to change a tire.
Ymansdam farmstead offers you the perfect opportunity for wild bush camping in the Tankwa. This authentic semi-desert location allows you to disconnect from city life and become one with your natural surroundings.
The farm is a beautiful combination of expansive, vast plains and rocky outcrops that showcase the rugged allure of the Karoo. Different types of accommodation are on offer. For the wild at heart there’s the bush camp, which provides you with the authentic experience of living close to nature. The farm also offers self-catering cottages that are equipped with the basic amenities.
Just a word of advice, it gets very hot in this area and the best times to visit are in spring and autumn. If you are brave enough to go in summer, make sure you take plenty of beer, and water. You’re going to need it! There’s also nothing better than having a beer with your braai (barbecue) at night while staring up in the dark, clear sky to marvel at the stars and other celestial wonders.
If you’re one of the more energetic travelers, who don’t just want to enjoy the relaxing side of camping, there are various other activities you can enjoy, such as hiking, and exploring the unique wildlife and plants in the rugged terrain. It’s even safe to take your kids on an adventure or two.
The Tankwa invites you to escape your hectic life, and become one with nature’s beauty. The Ymansdam Farmstead a cosy retreat in the heart of the Karoo, could turn out to be one of the most exciting, but tranquil holidays you’ve had in your life.