Tankwa Karoo National Park Travel Guide

The Tankwa Karoo National Park is located in the western Karoo just 250 kilometres (155 miles) drive from Cape Town in the Northern Cape. Offering vast open space, peace and tranquillity, Tankwa Karoo National Park is the ideal destination for those looking for solitude and stillness.

Embrace the Vast Open Spaces


Located a 4 to 5 hour drive on the border between the Northern Cape and the Western Cape, the Tankwa Karoo National Park can be accessed from Calvinia, Sutherland, Ceres or Middlepos with entrance gates on the southern and northern boundaries. Visitors travelling to the nature reserve should head up along the N1 towards Paarl and then take the R44 turn off towards Wellington.

Once past Wellington head towards Ceres on the R301 and R43. Once in Ceres turn right onto the Ceres road and then and continue onto the R355. Continue on the R355 until you reach the R356. The entrance gate will be on the R356 road. Alternatively one can head up on the N1 and the turn left onto the R354. Visitors should take note that the access roads are gravel and can occasionally be in poor condition.


The closest airport is Cape Town International Airport.

Internal Road Network

There is an extensive network of internal roads in the reserve.


The vast expanse of this 144 000 hectare nature reserve will take your breath away with its stillness and rugged natural beauty. With very people around you, you can stop and relish the splendour of your surroundings, gazing out at the terrain all around you as if you are the only person there. On clear nights the star gazing is phenomenal, offering hours of entertainment.


Visitors to the Tankwa Karoo Nature Reserve can enjoy a number of different activities including hiking, walking, star gazing and game viewing. The reserve is home to a vast array of vegetation types and is considered a biodiversity hotspot for Succulent Karoo plants. The arid area provides some interesting bird watching experiences especially for those looking for specials such as the Burchell's Courser, the Namaqua Sandgrouse or the Double-banded Courser.

There are 32 species of mammal found within the reserve including Klipspringer, Rhebok, Springbok and Red Hartebeest providing occasion game viewing opportunities. Of the carnivores found in the reserve visitors are most likely to see Yellow Mongoose and Suricate and possibly Bat-eared Fox on cooler days.


There are 7 different Tankwa Karoo National Park accommodation options available to tourists wanting to spend a few nights in the nature reserve. The Elandsberg Wilderness Camp is a popular option and consists of 5 different self-catering chalets. The Paulshoek farmstead, Varschfontein Cottage and DeZyfer Cottage are all restored old farmhouses that can sleep 6, 9 and 4 guests respectively. The Tanqua Guesthouse is situated on the southern boundary of the national park and offers a range of accommodation. There are also camping facilities at Perdekloof and Langkloof.

The experience

The vast expanse of the Tankwa National Park leaves one with a sense of peace and tranquillity seldom found in today's busy world. The stark natural beauty of the Karoo has a way of seeping into your soul, leaving you yearning for more until you return. The accommodation, which has been modelled to look like typical farm labourer's cottages are rustic but very well equipped. The drive to Middelpos along the Ganagga Pass is highly recommended.


Located in one of the driest areas of the Karoo, the Tankwa Karoo National Park receives minimal rain throughout the year and what rain it does get, occurs in the winter months between May and August. Winter temperatures are around 5°C (48°F) while in summer months the temperatures can be extremely hot, reaching 36°C to 40°C (96.8°F - 161°F).

Useful information

The closest fuel supplies are located in Calvinia approximately 90 kilometres (55.8 miles) from the national park and visitors are advised to refuel prior to entering the nature reserve. There are no restaurants, ATMs, shops or telephones in the reserve and guests are advised to bring everything they may need with them.

The road into the reserve is gravel and can occasionally be in a poor condition due to bad weather and poor maintenance. There is no cell phone signal in the reserve. The park has rich scorpion and spider populations and visitors are advised to check the insides of their shoes prior to putting them on and to be careful of where they tread, especially at night. The nature reserve is known for its extreme heat in the summer months and visitors are advised to always carry water with them and to wear sunblock at all times.

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South Africa Nature Reserves : Game Reserves and National Parks