So it has been nearly two weeks since we have come back from the Tankwa Karoo after a very successful workshop. It is really scary how time flies and that 2014 is nearly at the end again!
My dad, Johan and I set out for the Karoo on the Thursday already, with the bakkie packed to the max. We took along all the food and wood for the trip and we wanted to get there early to get everything packed out and set up and ready for when the first guests would start to arrive. Even though it is only 260km from Worcester, the drive will take you nearly 4 hours. About 200 of the 260km is gravel and the going is quite a bit slower than usual. This Karoo road is notorious for flat tyres as the sharp shale and rocks in the road have claimed many tyres before, and now we where about to add to that growing number of slain tyres.
We got a major blow-out a couple of kilometers before the Tankwa National Park. No worries, I did check the spare wheel. The problem came in with our jack, we could not get it in the right spot to get the bakkie lifted high enough to take off the slashed wheel… what now? After about an hour and a half of battling with lifting it, stacking wood underneath, then lifting it further and still not winning the fight it was getting late and we still had about 70km to go to Hammelhoek! We just passed a farm house where I know people lived, or hoped, judging by the solar panels next to the house. So I decided to go and ask for some help and if we could borrow a decent jack just to get the bakkie lifted! Luckily there was a bakkie that came along the road and after flagging them down, they agreed to help us with their jack. It was an elderly couple and their son, all the way from Sweden! Anyway after a very quick tyre change, we where on the road again, now without a spare wheel.
We eventually arrived at Hammelhoek and started packing all the goods so that it would all be ready for the next day. After a quick supper it was off to bed.

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The Friday came and so did lunch time and yet no guests! I must admit I was getting a bit worried at one stage if the people would all find the place. I did send them 3 different map versions so they would surely have found it. Dawie arrived first and then we had some more beers while waiting. We sat on the deck at the main house with the binoculars waiting for the very distinctive trail of dust on the horizon. After a while the people started arriving to my relief! Some of them drove past the main turn off, and came all the way back again and some turned around at the gate, but at least everyone made it safely and we where the only one with a blow-out on the road.

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We went onto the hill behind the houses to shoot sunset and the group scattered to find composition and spots for themselves. We had an amazing sunset over the escarpment due to a huge bank of high clouds that moved in late the afternoon.
The only problem with high clouds is that they move very slowly, so by nighttime they where right above us which put a huge dampening on the astro-photography for the evening. None the less we still went out to go and shoot. Some people got some pretty interesting images. We got back to the Hammelhoek cottages at about 10:30 and then had dinner and it was lights out as we had to get up at 4:30am to get ready for sunrise.
We had a typical Karoo sunrise, not a cloud in the sky and beautiful pastel colours on the horizon. Most of the people set up on the koppie again. The Karoo dawn is something to experience. You can really hear the veld come alive as the birds start to chirp and you slowly start to feel the sun getting warm on your back.

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From about 9am we saw the clouds building up and it was obvious that we where going to have some thunderclouds. The weather report looked good for thunder, warm day and 80% cloud cover. We did not have any lightning or thunder, but we did get a very light shower. The smell of the dry Karoo soil with a sprinkling of rain water is just magic! There was even a cell with some dark mamatus clouds that formed underneath, something you don’t see too often in our parts.

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Myself and Loraine went over the koppie to the open section behind it and got some interesting images with the dry Karoo shrubs and the stunning clouds overhead.
The thunder clouds started to drift away, but not completely, there was still some high puffy clouds in the sky and we where going to be in for a good sunset, and so it was. The whole group shot all over the open ground below the cottages and there was really some spectacular images captured. Well with such an amazing sunset it was hard not to get any good shots!

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At dinnertime we had one of my dad’s famous potjies, and if you can see the size of that pot, you will not believe that there were hardly 2 plates of food left over! Due to the fact that there was still a heap of clouds in the sky, the group decided that they will rather enjoy the stunning Karoo evening on the deck with some good wine and even better conversations.

The following morning just a handful of people were awake for sunrise. Most people just decided that their beds were more fun than getting up at 4:30am. We followed with a good breakfast and then we started to slowly pack everything away. During the morning the group slowly started leaving.
All in all it was a great weekend where some new friends was made and lots of knowledge was shared.
Here is to the next one. Planned date is the weekend of the 16-18 January 2015. Please view the info on the workshops tab.

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