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Tankwa Karoo National Park

Vital Information

General Information

  • Travelling times: There are restricted travelling times in the park. No travelling is permitted within Tankwa National Park during the following times:
    • 1 October to 31 March 19:00 – 05:30
    • 1 April to 30 September 18:00 – 06:30
    • Exemption granted to visitors arriving on a Friday by no later than 21:00 at reception, to travel by means of most direct route to the reception and from the reception to their booked accommodation.
  • Last stops for fuel (measured from park offices) are Ceres (180km), Sutherland (140km - closed from Saturdays 13:00 for weekend), Calvinia (110km) and Middelpos (52km).
  • Vehicle fuel is available in all parks (or is available on the park periphery) - South African legislation stipulates that fuel stations will accept legitimate petrol/fuel/garage/credit/debit cards or cash as a form of payment for any fuel purchase.
  • Motorcycles are allowed in the park.
  • Arrivals for accommodation from 14:00 only, departure at 10:00.
  • No shops, restaurants, public phones or ATMs in the park.
  • General Dealer and Bottle Store in Middelpos.
  • No cellphone reception within the park as well as main access roads.
  • Credit card facilities are available.
  • Prosopis Wood for sale in park.
  • Office Hours:
    • Monday - Thursday: 07:30 - 17:00
    • Friday: 07:30 - 21:00
    • Saturday: 07:30 - 17:00
    • Sunday / Public Holiday: 10:00 - 16:00
  • Please do:
    • Ask for plant and animal species lists at Reception.
    • As outdoor lighting in camps is limited, a torch/headlamp is required when walking outside at night.
    • Bring along insect repellent and sun-block.
    • Bring birding books and other plant and animal field guides as well as binoculars.
    • Invite a friend to appreciate the beauty of daybreak and the wonders of the Tankwa night sky.
    • Remember to bring lots of warm clothing in winter.
    • Bring lots of cool goodies for summer!
  • Please don't:
    • Litter.
    • Feed, disturb or injure any animal.
    • Bring any pets into Tankwa National Park.
    • Take any firearms into Tankwa National Park.
    • Stay or overnight at any other place than those designated as camping or overnight facilities.
    • Damage, remove or destroy any natural item (seeds, plants, animals or rocks) or human artefacts.
    • Light any fires at places not designated as camping or overnight facilities.
    • Leave the road at any point.

Park Regulations

  • To ensure a safe and joyful trip through our parks, kindly adhere to the Rules and Regulations as stipulated by South African National Parks.
  • The use of drones inside (and over) our national parks is prohibited, unless these are used for research or official purposes and with the prior written approval of the Park Management.

Climate and Vegetation

The duration and temperature of the growing season clearly separates succulent Karoo from other biomes. The Tanqua Karoo (Region) is one of the most arid sections of the Karoo. Isohyets of mean annual rainfall (mm) for the Karoo indicate that the Tankwa National Park falls into the 0-100mm range (Venter et al. 1986), with 25% of the mean annual precipitation in summer. In contrast the higher lying regions, within the Roggeveld Escarpment, receive up to five times more rain annually.

The mean July minimum temperature is 5°C-7°C (lowest measured 0°C), and the mean January maximum temperature is 38.9°C (highest measured 46°C). The highest average maximum temperatures occur from November to March with the hottest months being January and February. The highest wind speeds occur from October to March.

Planning Your Visit


Spring is best: Birding is at its peak from August to October, when the region may also unpredictably burst into flower. However, the majority of the specials (with the possible exception of Black-headed Canary, Ludwig’s Bustard and Black-eared Finchlark) are accessible year-round with a little effort.


Please take care when driving in this region. The road gravel is sharp and often loose, and a great deal of caution needs to be taken with corners and sudden stops. Furthermore, please give some thought to your fuel and water requirements, bearing in mind that there are no proper towns in the Tankwa Karoo, and the closest refuelling points are Ceres, Sutherland, Middelpos and Calvinia. Those with thirsty engines may consider packing a (full) jerry-can to guard against potential concerns over those interesting detours.

Dirt Road Driving Tips:

  • Slow down when you see approaching traffic.
  • Do not allow wheels to lock when applying brakes.
  • Never exceed 80km/h.
  • Be aware of slippery conditions during wet weather.
  • Be aware of flash floods crossing roads as well as road surface possibly washed away.
  • If you need to overtake, avoid loose gravel at the side of the road.
  • Take along enough drinking water, especially during hot conditions.
  • Inform your host of your route and approximate arrival time.
  • Check pressure of spare wheel and ensure tyres are at the correct pressure.
  • Drastically reduce speed when transferring from tar to gravel and when approaching a motor grid.
  • Drive in the existing tracks on the road.
  • Keep to the left when approaching a blind hill.
  • Put your lights on in the dust of passing traffic.
  • See complete list of tips for driving on gravel roads.

Contact Information

For enquiries e-mail Tankwa National Park or phone us on the following numbers:

  • Tel: +27 (0)27 341 1927
  • Fax: +27 (0)27 341 2814
  • Address: Tankwa Karoo National Park, P.O. Box 299, Calvinia, 8190

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