Addo to Karoo: discover Camdeboo National Park

Posted by Colleen Blaine on 6 October 2014

In dire need of inspiration, Colleen Blaine packed her bags and set off on a week-long adventure from Addo to the Karoo. Read her previous posts here.

Discovering Camdeboo National Park

The lake at Camdeboo National Park. Photo by Colleen Blaine.

The lake at Camdeboo National Park. Photo by Colleen Blaine.

The beauty of Camdeboo National Park, near Graaff-Reinet, lies in its simplicity. Travelling from Mountain Zebra National Park we arrived in Graaff-Reinet and headed straight up to the Valley of Desolation to catch the promise of a magnificent sunset, and a cocktail supper spread from Coldstream Restaurant that has us salivating all the way to the top. Our light was stolen by some low hanging clouds, but secretly all we could concentrate on were the platters waiting for us half way down.

The Valley of Desolation gives rise to feelings of determination and purpose, just as though you are at the top of the world. The desolate but characteristic Karoo landscape lies exposed before you, daring you to explore or challenge it.

Arriving at the tented camp in Camdeboo National Park, the air is filled with quiet and the magnificence of the mountains is replaced by tranquility. The Lakeside Tented Camp consists of canvas and wood tents with just the right amount of comfort and well-thought-out amenities to make it more than just a place to sleep. The indoor/outdoor communal rain showers were consolation for our dusty cheetah-tracking bodies. The coolness of a threatening rain shower tucked us into bed and the gentle buffeting of the canvas tent lulled me to sleep.

So much so, that when we leave the next morning for our much anticipated breakfast at the impressive Coldstream Restaurant in Graaff-Reinet, it felt as though we stayed for a week. With satisfied tummies we departed from Graaff-Reinet heading out on the Aberdeen road, bracing ourselves for what promised to be the longest straightest road yet to Beaufort West. Most of us spend our lives chasing stimulation and excitement, always wanting the best views and the biggest mountains, but as we drive through this edge of the Great Karoo I find absolute beauty in the nothingness that stretches either side of the road.

Endless views of flat (and I mean flat), dry landscape coupled with a rising thermometer cleared my head of unnecessary clutter and presented my imagination with a barren canvas on which to create.  If you think about it enough, open space like this is a luxury and when we reached the gates of the Karoo National Park, I felt as though I’d won the lottery for open space. Lots of sky, lots of heat: we are in Africa.



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