One of the lasting effects AfrikaBurn had on my life is a love for the nothingness splendour that is the Tankwa Karoo. On our honeymoon road trip last October, one of our most amazing stops was 2 days at Elandsberg in the Tankwa National Park, a few kilometres from the AfrikaBurn site.
A night at Elandsberg after the Burn seemed like the ideal way to miss the worst of the crowds on the great Sunday exodus back to Cape Town. As it turned out, we weren’t up for AfrikaBurn on Sunday in any form. The Saturday morning the trance music finally got the better of us and within 15 minutes of getting up we were driving the opposite direction, deeper into Tankwa.
Despite it being a long weekend we thankfully found moderately priced accommodation at the Tanqua Karoo Guesthouse. For the evening we took over the exceptionally large family unit of four bedrooms and one very random pullout bed cupboard.
With a four hour layover before Elandsberg’s book-in time on Sunday, we tackled a common Karoo conundrum; not enough fuel to drive south back to Cape Town in a few days time but enough to make a 100km roundtrip in the wrong direction to fuel up. The wrong direction was Middelpos, on the other side of a narrow mountain pass.
A horse traffic sign is the first sign into Middlepos, but before I could make a (frankly uninspired) quip about it being a one horse town, I spotted 2 horses (and went on to see at least another 8). The one “something” of this town is way too bizarre to be a stereotype.
At the freestanding fuel pumps a friendly fuel attendant confirmed our fears that they only accepted cash. With most of our cash firmly stashed in his pocket he happily locked open the general store for firewood. Inside 2 mannequins wearing vintage (since they were new 20 odd years ago I bet) watched over the ragtag collection of goods and groceries.
On request our store fuel attendant/store-clerk directed us to the hotel for lunch, where he himself took our order 2 minutes later. At this point we had to pool our resources dumping all our coins and small notes on the bar lounge’s table. Without missing a beat our fuel attendant/store-clerk/waiter/barman scooped up all our silver in return for 2 ice cold Hunters and fresh tomato and cheese toasted sandwiches.
As we had never been served by 1 person in 3 different settings within the span of 30 minutes another unique Karoo conundrum faced us, do we tip the “waiter” again when The Plus One already tipped the “petrol attendant”? Of course yes and hopefully the crumpled note showed our appreciation for the greater Tankwa’s triple threat.
The Tankwa National Park’s Elandsberg cottages are a special blend minimalist luxury and privacy. With the 5 cottages spaced far apart, neighbours are tiny specks never to be heard. If it was possible I would buy a timeshare.
I don’t feel the same excitement that I had after ArikaBurn 2015, maybe some distance and a whole lot of fomo and good memories might have me refreshing the computer screen to buy a ticket in 2 years or so. The rest of the Tankwa however, will see me a little sooner. And with a bit of luck there will be bit be more silver in my purse.