Clouds of dust whirl across a brown and khaki landscape, the air sucked dry of moisture. This is the Tankwa Karoo National Park in the grips of a four-and-a-half-year drought. We’re here to stay at Gannaga Lodge at the top of Gannaga Pass, Tankwa Karoo, to explore this stony desert-like vastness on the way to nowhere.
It’s a timeless scene, one that could have played out just like this hundreds of years ago.
The farm’s long history
Although Gannaga Lodge took its first guests only in 2007, it’s part of the Visagie farm called Agterkop, which has been in lodge co-owner Johann Visagie’s family since 1790 – a long heritage. It’s a private 20-hectare enclave within the greater Tankwa Karoo National Park, somewhere between Calvinia, Ceres and Sutherland.
A third farmhouse was built in 1962, and that’s where Johann still lives with his family.
Enjoy a home-style meal in the dining room, looking out over the swimming pool and the vast expanse of the Tankwa Karoo beyond. Relax on a comfy couch in the lounge/library and bury your nose in a good book, or admire the odd bits and pieces of decor like an old sewing machine or record player, bookshelves made from what were once door frames.
Although we visited in March, I’m dying to go back in winter, when the fireplaces will kick into gear to warm guests when snow blankets the hilltops. Think hot chocolate around the fire, warming dinners and snuggling up with a book and a glass of red wine.
‘The governess’s room and Oupa’s room were outside the main farm house, as you can see,’ co-owner Robert Black told us. There was an advantage of rooms leading directly off the stoep: it’s said there may have been some to-ing and fro-ing between the two of them when Ouma wasn’t looking.
I was exactly where I wanted to be.
(PS. I'll tell you about 10 of the things to do at Gannaga Lodge in another post.)
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