Your guide to the Tankwa Karoo

Tankwa KarooTankwa Karoo
Tankwa KarooTankwa Karoo

Your guide to the Tankwa Karoo

Not many people would understand your desire to want to go to one of the most arid areas of the Karoo, but the Tankwa Karoo Region actually has a lot to offer and is worth the visit. If you don’t want to be burned by the heat, be sure to visit the Tankwa Karoo between April and September. And then you can comfortably explore the Succulent Karoo Biodiversity Hotspot.


Nearest towns

Before you go right into the Tankwa Karoo, take note of the nearest towns along the way because you’ll need to fill up your petrol tanks at one of them (all of which are 50 plus kilometres away from the Tankwa Karoo Park, by the way).

  • Ceres: This little town is known for its fruitfulness and is home to the internationally acclaimed Ceres fruit juice. A wonderland of snow in winter and the perfect nature and adventure getaway every other day of the year.  
  • Sutherland: In Sutherland, you can take in the stars at the SA Astronomical Observatory and wonder at the historical buildings, including the NG Church that was designed by Charles Freeman.
  • Middelpos: Possibly the smallest village in South Africa with approximately 300 inhabitants, Middelpos can still offer you the necessities of a rest, refill and refresh stop.
  • Calvinia: The famous big red post box is here in Calvinia, along with a museum, hiking trails, a Williston Mall and restaurants.


Things to do

Once you have worked your way through the surrounding towns, you will find yourself in the Tankwa Karoo National Park. And the first thing you will notice is the sound of silence. Nothing except you and nature.Definitely a big change from any town or city lifestyle and landscape. Here are a few things you can do in this beautiful area:

  • TankwaPadstal: The only stop and “oasis” in the middle of the Tankwa Karoo’s nothingness is the TankwaPadstal. After burning down in 2014, donations and helping hands have come together to rebuild this gem in the middle of nowhere. Stop for a refreshing drink, a dip in the dam and a bite of something to eat.
  • Gannaga Pass: The Gannaga Pass will take you through the beautiful and serene Roggeveld Mountains. Make your way through the narrow dirt roads and take in the wide plains of the Karoo.
  • Game viewing at Tankwa National Park: Hop into your vehicle and drive around the Tankwa Karoo Park. Here you will find Cape Mountain Zebra, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Springbok, Eland, Brown Hyena, Cheetah and more.
  • Bird watching: Among the mammals, you will also find over 187 different bird species. Bird watchers will love the opportunity to be surrounded by nature as they follow their favourite bird species flying around and doing their thing.
  • Stargazing: Without the distraction of the city and urban lights, the Tankwa Karoo is the perfect setting for a blanket and the night sky. Here you will see all the stars in the African sky and you can stargaze to your heart’s content.
  • Karoo river rafting: The Great Brak and Fish River are there for you to enjoy. River rafting (and 4x4 trails) is the more adventurous side of the Karoo. That’s if game and bird viewing aren’t exciting enough for you.



Although it seems that the Tankwa Karoo is the middle of nowhere, it’s still a popular place for people to visit. So much so that they even have events that take place here. Well-known and well-supported events.

  • Afrikaburn: From 23 to 29 April, Afrikaburn 2018 will be taking place in the Tankwa Karoo. Afrikaburn is a festival that creates a temporary city of art structures, themed camps, costumes, music and live performances. It’s a platform where everyone is equal and job titles and social status mean nothing. You survive off what you bring and work within a “gift economy that’s about giving without expecting anything in return.” You are also responsible for leaving with everything you came with and leaving no traces of litter behind. Even the temporary art structures get burned to the ground before everyone has to leave.
  • Tankwa trek: The Tankwa Trek is a three-stage, three-day mountain biking event. Stage one is an 83km route with an ascent of 1900m, stage two is 87km with 2200m ascent, and stage three is an 89km route with a vertical ascent of 1250m. It is a hugely sponsored event and a highlight on the South African mountain biking events calendar. All happening right here in the Tankwa Karoo.    

When you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, then you need to come to the Tankwa Karoo. Tankwa accommodation is ready and waiting for you.

Tankwa Karoo