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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

A 6 Week Road Trip Through South Africa Part 8: Karoo National Park

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 1 August 2014 | Views [249]

We were on the road by 9am knowing that we had quite a long drive ahead of us. We weren’t in any particular hurry so we enjoyed the forest and mountainous scenery along the next stretch of the Garden Route. On driving through Kynsna our immediate impression was that we were glad to have based ourselves in Plett instead of there. Further along the route, Sedgefield looked nice if a little upmarket and then we turned off the Graden Route at George and joined the N12 to head north and inland.

The next mountain range was looming large in front of us but by now thick clouds had gathered. We encountered a fair amount of rain but luckily only when we were driving. We passed through Oudshoon, which is the self-proclaimed ostrich capital of the world, there were a couple of cafes, but not a lot to distract tourists and as we didn’t have any desire to ride an ostrich we pushed on.

We pressed on about another 30km up the road to a village called Die Rust. It was time for a break and as luck would have it, Die Rust is a quaint little village wall to wall with cafes. Along with gaining satisfactory loo and brew status we found out that there was a waterfall worth stopping off at not far on up the route. We climbed up the Meringpoort Pass and the backdrop was spectacular. The pass literally cuts its way through the mountains affording stunning scenery. We pulled into the car park and hiked the short trail to the waterfall which was pleasantly impressive. The free car park, toilets and information facilities were all excellent once again so we made use of them and troughed our picnic in this dramatic setting.

We finally arrived at Karoo National Park later that afternoon and it is situated at the end of a high plain at the start of the next mountain range. It’s very windy up here and we suspected we were in for a chilly night in our tent. As ever, the info provided was comprehensive and we paid just R414 for 2 nights camping in a lovely bushy set with a mountainous backdrop. The facilities are good as long as you have all your pots, pans and utensils but once again there was nowhere to sit!

As it was getting late we only had time to do a short loop of the park all on pristine tarmac roads! This is not a ‘Big 5’ reserve but that’s not to say they don’t have some lovely animals. However, we didn’t spot anything new to add to our ‘list’. We did spot lots of different types of antelopes and loads of ostriches and it was good to see them in the wild instead of on the many farms in this area.

As predicted it was a wild windy night and even layered up and clasping hot water bottles we didn’t get the best night’s sleep. I’m sure I’ve hinted previously that lying on the floor under flimsy nylon is something best left to folks younger than us! Perhaps we will progress to a bigger sturdier tent and carry table and chairs in the future.

Anyway, this morning we didn’t see the point of setting off at the crack of dawn as even the birds hadn’t started tweeting yet! We were exiting the fenced off camp site by 8.30am and spent 4 hours doing a self-drive game drive. In fact you can drive around all the park roads on your own except at night and some tracks which are classed as 4x4 only. Only titchy hire car wasn’t on for that but was more than happy pootling along the 45km gravel Potlekkerjie Loop and even up Klipsringer Pass. Although the weather was clear, the wind howling through the Karoo brought the ambient temperature plummeting. As a result very little in the way of wildlife was out and about. Indeed we saw very little and no new species to report unfortunately. What we really wanted to see were meerkats but we searched everywhere but to no avail.

The short fossil and bossie trails near the accommodation centre were very interesting. The fossil trail is like an open air museum so if you get fed up looking at rocks you can admire the view! The information board explains about the fossils and the geology of the region over the millions of years it took to form. The bossie trail is dedicated to the flora of the area. We thought about doing the night game drive to try and spot some of the nocturnal creatures such as aardvarks, but the women on reception thought we were barking mad to even think about it due to the cold. She had a point. So we spent another evening standing in the kitchen (may as well been at Andrew’s hey mum?) drinking tea to keep warm.

 

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