At one with nature at Embizeni, Karoo

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Friends always ask me for special places to visit within our South African National Parks. When I worked for the SANParks Times back in the day, I had the opportunity to experience some of these gems, though there are many still on my bucket list. This post looks at one of the gems inside our parks – the Embizweni Cottage in the Karoo National Park just outside Beaufort West in the Western Cape.

Disclaimer: I have not recently stayed at the Embizweni Cottage. Things might have changed. This article looks back on a memory and enjoyable experience in the Karoo National Park back then. If I get the opportunity, I would go back in a heartbeat.

There are many reasons why I loved staying at the Embizweni Cottage and why I would recommend it. Getting there was a bit of a drive, and of course, I love staying far from the crowds. Embizweni is a secluded, unfenced cottage nearly 50km (two to three hours) from the Karoo National Park reception. It is situated on the Nuweveld 4×4 Trail in a remote area.

Experiencing the most beautiful sunsets at Embizweni Cottage in the Karoo National Park. Here the sky is painted pink.
Experiencing the most beautiful sunsets at Embizweni Cottage in the Karoo National Park.

Taking the journey to Embizweni

Mountains tower above the ground and you expect the cottage to emerge at the turn of every bend. You know you are getting closer, but the winding path continues around another rocky corner. When you stop expecting it, a quaint little building suddenly appears out of nowhere. We arrived at Embizweni cottage, just in time to light a fire and watch nature brush pastel pink colours onto its canvas, the Karoo skyline.

It is easy to lose yourself, surrounded by the majestic Nuweveld Mountains. Yet, simultaneously, the vast open Karoo planes dominate here. I found it extremely difficult to capture the scenery in photographs because of the sheer scale of the geography. During our stay, I stood on the edge of a rocky face leading down into the valley many times, experiencing nature at its best.

Staying at Embizweni is all about enjoying the silence of the Karoo. It is the best medicine if you want to forget about bustling city life. Because of solar power, there is no television or any opportunity to use electricity to charge your phones or electronic equipment, so go there if you want to switch off completely.

Ostriches running in the Karoo National Park
Ostriches running in the Karoo National Park, surrounded by beautiful scenery.

To get there, you have to traverse the Nuweveld 4×4 trail. This grade one route is relatively tame but has some steep rocky sections and dry riverbeds to cross. You need an off-road vehicle as conditions vary in different seasons. One of the advantages is that you don’t need expert skills to reach your destination. This Embizweni cottage is also the perfect vantage point to delve even further into the heart of the park via the surrounding Klipplaatsfontein, Kookfontein and De Hoek 4×4 trails.

One thing to keep in mind is that nature dictates the rules when you visit, so don’t arrive with the expectation of seeing certain animals. You can look out for large herds of antelope and if you are lucky, some of the park’s roaring residents. Whether the wildlife quenches their thirst at the water hole in front of the cottage or you see nothing, it remains a place to tick off your bucket list.

Moment to remember: The sheer magnitude of the mountainous environment and the tranquillity away from it all. At night, thousands of stars and the moon illuminate the surroundings.

Who should go: It is perfect for small groups of up to seven people looking to get away from it all while exploring areas of the park only those with off-road vehicles get to see. Book immediately if you love isolation.

Living arrangement:  two bedrooms, one with a double bed and the other with a double bed and single sleeper couch. The second room has a double bed and single sleeper couch. There is also a double bunk bed in the lounge. The house also offers a bathroom (bath and shower) and lounge/living area with a verandah and built-in braai overlooking a waterhole.

Price: See the latest fees here.

Bookings: A minimum of two nights is compulsory. Contact the park’s reception at +27-23-415-2828 or visit

Need more ideas? Read our article about things to do around Beaufort West.

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