A Karoo winter season is not for everybody: It’s for sturdy individuals who like wearing thermal layers, developing snowmen on mountainsides and cuddling deep into their Pep shop blankets in the lounge to contemplate the patterns in the logs that burn through the night. They harbour an extreme love for warm water bottles.

It’s all of a sudden exceptionally challenging to leave the clutches of the down duvet on cold early mornings, the canines grow monster pelts, the hunters drive into town in their camouflaged bakkies and every neighbour appears to have a piece of kudu simmering away in a cast-iron pot.

The fire wood floggers and their chainsaw groups are tough at it, lowering enough right-size logs for each hearth in the area. A winter season Karoo home ends up being a warm sanctuary, without any scarcity of red white wine, roaring fires and hearty food.

The regional shelter is striving, attempting to feed the poorest people as much as it can throughout this time, when it’s no enjoyable living rough.

Out on the farms, the Aga range is the warm heart of the homestead. A Karoo farm cooking area in the winter is a popular location to be, for cooks and kids and collies alike.

Find out more in Daily Maverick: Snow Day in the Karoo

In the early morning when the sun increases and illuminate the snowfalls, the rivers shimmer, the frost makes patterns on the trees, the roofings of the sheds shine and the hills handle a smooth texture, looking like big icing sugar outcrops.

And you unexpectedly understand: who would wish to be anywhere else on the planet?


A museum where ghosts assist reorganize the design. (Photo: Chris Marais)

A scare at the museum

The Richmond Horse Museum is mainly about equestrian matters, however there is likewise a resident ghost on the precinct.

Manager Johan Tolken is not a guy who terrifies quickly. In 2003, a Richmond relative called him at his home in Lambert’s Bay and asked him to come up and assist on a guesthouse job.

“That was expected to last just 2 years– it’s been almost 15,” he states cheerfully.

Tolken’s task permits him to indulge his enthusiasm for historic research study. With little or no justification he will transport out an ancient 8mm projector and reveal you movie clips of South Africa circa the old days.

He’ll likewise provide you the skinny on well-known folk like Josephine Cornelia Brink, a Richmond lady who wed into Randlord cash and ended up being José Dale Lace

You may keep in mind Dale Lace (of Northwards House, Parktown, Joburg) as the lady who bathed in a marble tub filled with fresh milk and rocked around town in a coach drawn by 4 zebras.

“I’ll inform you another thing,” Tolken will half-whisper conspiratorially, “There’s a ghost in the museum. I’m persuaded of it. I as soon as saw a little kid in a pale t-shirt here, and he strolled right through a wall. One time, he turned up and kicked me in the leg, however he does not trouble me any longer.”

Wee willy warmers

In milder parts of the world, a willy warmer is a novelty product, among those paradoxical presents males frequently discover dealt with to them under a Christmas tree.

Willy warmers, aka peter heating units or male mittens, serve a genuine function in cold nations like Croatia, where the shepherds up in the Mrkopalj Mountains use them to ward off frostbite.

In Norway, where they pass the names of vanakot or suspensoriumthe standard willy warmer is made from squirrel fur (hairy side in for much better insulation) and used with leather trousers when the chill embeds in.

Some old-school Norwegian islander women still knit their beaus willy warmers as an indication of their love. Problem betide the Norseman who turns down such a gesture of love.

In the booties & & beanies area of among the Williston Mall stores, amongst the Zambuk, Cobra and Nugget tins, hide attentively packaged willy warmers “for the guy who has whatever”.

Karoo willy warmers

In your area knitted willy warmer, Williston Mall, Northern Cape. (Photo: Chris Marais)

They are sourced from as far afield as Port Elizabeth and someplace deep in the Tankwa desert.

“Then, obviously, a woman who resides in the regional retirement centre knits them for us also,” the Williston Mallers will inform you.

Roadside ghosts

There are numerous factors for not handling a Karoo highway or byway after dark. Big cross-country trucks with drowsy eyes behind the wheel all of a sudden appear in your lane. A little bakoorjakkals (bat-eared fox) ends up being roadkill in your headlights. A mid-winter kudu smashes into your windshield with dreadful outcomes all round.

Or a ghost appears out of the dark blackness.


Roadside ghost stories are plentiful in the Karoo. (Photo: Chris Marais)

The earliest tape-recorded Karoo roadside encounter with the left returns centuries to the lonesome “Spokeveld” area in between Ceres and Beaufort West.

There’s stated to be a transportation wagon forever crossing the sporadic veld, drawn by “14 wide-eyed mules” and a motorist with an appearance of utter insanity on his face. If you ask him where he’s going, he’ll yell back:

“To Hell! To Hell!”

Learn more in Daily Maverick: The haunted Karoo: All is peaceful after dark … or is it?

Near Beaufort West, a male eliminated his better half in a dry riverbed, and ever since visitors report seeing a swift-moving light sweeping up and down along the river course. It is stated to be the ghost of the murder victim, intensely looking for her other half.

On the N1 in between the town of Matjiesfontein and the well-known graveyard where lots of guys of historic note are buried, vehicle drivers have actually seen a British soldier in khakis and bloodstained plasters standing at the roadside.

Another tourist approaching the graveyard at sundown heard an only set of Scottish bagpipes. When he got to the cemetery gate all was Karoo-still in the gloaming.

Barbie-Q increases from the ashes

Things were rolling along simply fine down at the Tankwa Padstal up until one eventful night in September 2014.

There had actually been a disruption at the bar throughout the day, including a regional someone. It was later on exposed that he returned after closing time, with matches and a can of fuel.

He broke in, took some knives and sugary foods from the store, and set the location alight. What follows next is invaluable.

By the time the owners telephoned the insurer, a whole network of help had actually emerged to reconstruct the Tankwa Padstal.

The cyclist neighborhood raised a lots of cash. Overlanders who understand and enjoy the tricksy R355 and its eccentric roadside sanctuary made contributions. The AfrikaBurn individuals established a short-term Werkswinkel Bar in a Bedouin camping tent. Trucks started showing up with totally free loads of structure sand and stone.

Find out more in Daily Maverick: Karoo curiosity– tales from the eccentric, wonderful heartland of South Africa

Farmworkers in the location are likewise regulars at the Tankwa Padstal. This is where they get their mielie meal, tobacco, bike parts and, periodically, some treatment for their donkeys. Among them contributed R10 to purchase a brick for the reconstruct.

The Barbie Cue in the Tankwa Padstal, Northern Cape. (Photo: Chris Marais)

Even the paradoxically called Barbie-Q of frying pan and dolls had actually been overcooked in the blaze and was quickly changed by a well-wisher. By the end of December that year, the brand-new and enhanced Tankwa Padstal was back in company. DM

For an expert’s view on life in the Karoo, get the three-book special of Karoo Roads I, Karoo Roads II and Karoo Roads III by Julienne du Toit and Chris Marais for just R800, consisting of carrier expenses in South Africa. For more information, contact Julie at [email protected]


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