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The Tankwa Karoo is one of those lost-in-time places that you find dotted around South Africa. The skies are huge and, not far from Sutherland in the Northern Cape, and just over five hours by car from Cape Town, the road there through the veld appears to be endless. At its heart is Tankwa River Lodge, a much-loved Perfect Hideaway tucked into a hollow on the banks of the Tankwa River, which springs to life intermittently following winter rains.

The main core of the off-the-grid lodge is a 1850s Karoo homestead with thick stone walls, casement windows, outside shutters and a thatched roof. At one time it was filled with a clutter of tiny rooms but today, cleared away, it’s a single large living room one end of which leads to the kitchen and the other to six bedrooms and four bathrooms. A wide stoep skirts the front of the house at the centre of which a fire pit is adjacent to a small plunge pool. This homestead is one of the lucky survivors in a landscape littered with old houses and their clutter of assisting barns and werfs. Its vernacular style retained, it was given a new lease of life.

Part of the fun of staying here has always had a lot to do with its extraordinary character – particularly when the fires are lit at night in the kitchen and the sitting room. Huge leather sofas and armchairs hides on the floor, collections of bones and feathers, stones, books and boy’s own paraphernalia indicate owners getting to grip with the extraordinary nature of the lands surrounding them as well as the rigours of living a civilised life in this distant spot in the 21st century. At the heart of this farm, Tankwa River Lodge is all the more appealing for being simply unique.

Tankwa means, it’s thought, ‘thirst lands’ or perhaps ‘the place of the San’. Humans have lived here for about 10 000 years, the San and the Khoi followed in the 1700s by the trekboers for whom this farm was once a winter home. In those days living in the Tankwa wasn’t about lifestyle – as it is today. Nowadays when the summer dial soars you sleep on the stoep in a sarong and leap into the pool when you need to cool down.

There are 4×4 routes on the farm, the Tankwa National Park is a short drive away, as is Sutherland itself, one of the world’s premier destinations for star-gazing. Expect to see plenty of game on the farm, including springbok, gemsbok, hartebeest and kudu.

Specs:

  • Erf size: 2 611ha
  • Main house (300 m2):
    – Six bedrooms
    – Four bathrooms (three en suite)
    – Three indoor fireplaces
    – Off-grid/solar powered
    – Gas oven/stove
    – Outdoor firepit
    – Plunge pool
  • Manager’s house – two bedrooms (180 m²)
  • Two staff houses and outbuildings (170 m²)
  • A level glamping site with an old stone boma and separate access has been cleared for potential revenue
  • Water: Dam (900 m³), six boreholes, 8 km river frontage and a spring
  • Tools/machinery and generators
  • Vehicles: One Landrover, one Ford Ranger bakkie, two quad bikes
  • Game: Springbok, Ostrich, Gemsbok, Black Wildebeest, Hartebeest
  • Game fencing

Pricing

Price: R12.9m (excluding VAT)

Price includes furniture (excluding some personal items)

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Tankwa Karoo, Northern Cape

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