Karoo National Park Restaurant & Shop
The style of architecture, decor in the restaurant, souvenir offerings in the gift shop - they're all Karoo designery and kind of muted. Even the mood is muted. The animal sightings board shows recent lion and other exciting encounters, but we don't see any game at all on our journey out of the park.
On the Road
A long, hot day's driving and we find ourselves surrounded by a thickening haze that we can't identify. A dust storm? Smoke from a veld fire? We come across a little town hidden in the middle of it and stop to refuel and buy cold water. When we ask the store attendant what is happening, he explains that it's just hotness and dryness, a heat haze. Apparently it hasn't rained here - not a drop - for over five years.
Another of those days where things don't go to plan, then turn out better than you could have imagined. We've never been to Kimberley, never wanted to go, and now that we're here, we don't want to stay. It's too late in the day to see the Big Hole and only campsite in town is unmanned and looks like it's morphing into a squatter camp. It's a long way to anywhere else. Panic starts to set in. We reach for "Camp and a Caravan" and yay! Kandirri Game Lodge appears to be an option. We ring and yay! If we hurry they'll stay open for us. Kimberley is in the Northern Cape and the lodge is just outside Petrusberg in the Free State, a journey of about 85 kms.
Overnighted at: Kandirri Game Lodge
Located: Near Petrusberg on the N8 to Bloemfontein.
How we found it: “Camp and Caravan”
Road Access: Good.
Amenities: Nice, Africa-themed ablutions with everything you need, braais, flat shady sites with those giant thorns that love spearing jandals, lions.
Cost: NZD29 / ZAR290 for two adults
A fitting, final night to an epic roadtrip. As if to make up for not seeing lions in the Karoo National Park, or the Addo Elephant Park for that matter, we're now camped right next to a pride of them. There's a strong-looking, high, electrified fence between us and them, even so, I feel very vulnerable. We're the only campers here tonight and if one of them should find a way out, I don't fancy our chances. To add to the tension, they seem fascinated by us. Although they have a huge enclosure to cavort in, they all line up as close as they can get and settle down to watch us for the night. Eeep!
Soundtrack: Lions roaring so close that your heart literally vibrates in your chest, a parrot that says "hello".
Highlight: Camping within metres of a pride of lions.
Lowlight: Camping within metres of a pride of lions.