Life just couldn’t have been better. The heat had begun to seep from the day and we were sitting on our cottage stoep watching the Roggeveld mountains turn pink as the sun set behind us in the Tankwa Karoo. There wasn’t another soul in sight, the air was pure and the wine cold. Soon we would light our paraffin lamps and surrender to the romance of a time gone by.
The cottages are delightful, among the best of all in SANParks’ varied portfolio (with Agulhas rest camp being another contender for top spot). In a nod to the past, they have been built in the old-fashioned way, some sections of the wall using rocks gathered from the area, others using unbaked bricks of clay and straw, like so many of the ruined buildings that still dot the landscape in this part of the world. They’re well designed, with an easy flow from kitchen and living room to an enormous braai patio and pool deck (yup, there’s a splash pool for hot summer days).
Perhaps best of all was the shower, with floor to ceiling windows to enjoy the view and a wide door that opened to the elements for the illusion of an ‘outdoor’ shower. You know no one is peeping at you because the five cottages are cleverly placed and you’re barely aware of your nearest neighbours; you can almost believe you have the entire world to yourself.
A peep in the visitors’ book showed one or two foreigners complaining about ‘ferocious rodents’ (what, those sweet little striped mice?) and kamikaze bees attracted to the splash pool. But most visitors felt they had been privileged: ‘so silent you can hear your heart’, ‘humbling’, ‘the space is soul refreshing’, ‘a combination of utter simplicity and comfort’ and my personal favourite, ‘time to contemplate time’.
- There are five fully equipped self-catering cottages at Elandsberg about 18km from the park offices at Roodewerf. [Update 2022: there are now 10 cottages, 6 two-bed units and 4 sleeping four people.]
- Many of the old farmhouses have been restored for visitors too, and they come complete with good old-fashioned charm and donkey boilers.
- There are some fabulous camping spots too. Perdekloof and Langkloof were upgraded with ablutions and running water in 2011, but you can still go rustic camping without any amenities at six other campsites in the park, some with evocative names like Volmoersfontein and Oom Rickert se Huis.
- When you venture here, make sure you have enough fuel because you can’t buy any inside the park. Last stops for fuel are Ceres (180km), Sutherland (140km - closed from Saturdays 13:00 for weekend), Calvinia (110km) and Middelpos (52km).
- See here for info on the available options.
- SANParks central reservations, tel 012 428-9111
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