Afsaal Cottage in Karoo NP by Johan & Bridgena Barnard

When next you offsaddle at Karoo National Park, make a reservation at Afsaal, a century-old shepherd’s cottage. Then wait for the surprises. By Bridgena Barnard

In a remote corner of Karoo National Park, 35km from the Main Reception area, you will come across a tidy courtyard which leads to the front gate and onto the porch, our retreat for the next couple of days. The porch served as our social and dining area, fully equipped kitchenette and two fireplaces overlooking the waterhole (my kind of cooking).

Interior of Afsaal cottage in Karoo National Park. Photo by Johan and Bridgena Barnard.

Interior of Afsaal cottage in Karoo National Park. Pictures by Johan and Bridgena Barnard

The original, narrow front door leads to Afsaal, a 100-year-old shepherd’s cottage. With the hot rays of the sun on my back, a cool breeze coming from somewhere inside the house enhanced the splendid atmosphere. My eyes took a second or two to get accustomed to the dark interior and revealed two beds, a cupboard and fridge, fitting snugly in the single room. Perfect, everything we could ever need.

A waterhole, merely 50m from the front stoep, treated us to plenty of animal sightings. During the day zebra and springbok arrived at regular intervals. At night you can decide if you want to switch on the solar LED light to enjoy a possible sighting or sit quietly and listen to the night sounds under a starry sky. (The previous night a lucky tourist saw two male lions drinking at the hole.) The only interruptions to the complete silence will be the cry of a jackal and croaking of a frog.

Karoo lion sightings don't get much better than this. Photo by Johan and Bridgena Barnard.

Karoo lion sightings don’t get much better than this.

With a cup of coffee on the balcony, we witnessed how the night disappears and Karoo bush turns to pink cotton candy in the rays of the rising sun. Words are inadequate to describe the peacefulness that fills a person fortunate enough to experience this, a piece of the Karoo just for ourselves.

Reservations: Book this cottage directly with Karoo National Park on +27 (0)23 415 2828. For other bookings contact SANParks Central Reservations on +27 (0)12 428 9111.