Pay now & Stay later at Naries Namakwa Retreat

Wide open landscapes,  clear skies with millions of stars, unique plants,  a variety of birds and animals – and on top of that luxurious accommodation and warm hospitality – await guests at Naries Namakwa Retreat near Springbok in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, when travel restrictions are lifted.

With this in mind and looking specifically towards locals travelling,  Naries now offers a gift voucher at 30% off on all three of their accommodation options.  The Mountain Suites,  Manor House Guest Rooms and the two self-catering cottages offer different experiences within this nature reserve on the edge of the Spektakelberg between the N1 towards Namibia and the West Coast. 

“Pay now and stay later” is the ideal way to assist the staff at Naries and keep the business ticking over during this lock down period.  Guests are able to book their accommodation until 31 May 2021 using the voucher, which offers enough flexibility to plan travelling when it suits.

“Namaqualand is known for its isolation, tranquillity and peaceful environment, and we believe these characteristics are what will draw visitors back to our Retreat soon,” says Naries GM Julene Hamman.   “This is the perfect place to relax and recharge your batteries and we can’t wait to host visitors again.”

The discounted rate is only available if directly booked at reservations@naries.co.za after which a gift voucher will be sent to you for use until end-May 2021. Visit our website at www.naries.co.za to find out more about our accommodation, facilities and activities in the region.

A similar offer is available at our sister company, d’Olyfboom Family Estate in Paarl, Western Cape. Enquire at reservations@dolyfboom.co.za to find out more.

 

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Written by Heather Richardson

Courtesy of www.safaribookings.com

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The semi-desert region of Namaqualand sprawls across the Northern Cape of South Africa and into Namibia, about six hours north of Cape Town. Namaqualand is usually associated with the dazzling wildflowers that bloom across the area each spring. However, the region has a lot going for it at any time of year. This includes remote, wild beaches and 4x4 trails as well as a range of hiking and mountain biking routes. The Orange River flows through the region, marking part of the border between South Africa and Namibia. There are several parks and nature reserves, such as the coastal Namaqua National Park. For those wanting to escape the city for a weekend or as a stop-off on an overland trip through Southern Africa, Namaqualand has plenty to offer. Here are five great reasons to visit.

 

1. Wildflowers

 

Wildflowers are almost synonymous with Namaqualand, but they don’t bloom for long. They usually begin to flower in late July and early August, depending on the rains. By September, many of the flowers have already died. As such, you need to plan ahead, especially if you intend to stay in the area overnight. But it’s worth it to see the multicoloured patchwork carpets that blanket the fields during this spring period. Namaqualand has over 4,000 plant species, including around 1,000 endemics. You can admire the flowers via various hiking and cycling routes, along which you’ll find picnic sites and places to overnight. Popular destinations include Hantam National Botanical Garden in Nieuwoudtville and Namaqua National Park.

 

2. City escapes

 

Throughout the year, Namaqualand is a refuge for city-dwellers in need of some space and silence. To beat the crowds, the best time to visit is outside wildflower season, from October to June. Take advantage of the quiet trails for long, satisfying days of hiking, running or braaimountain biking. Or simply enjoy a relaxing weekend away, chilling out with a beer and a braai, the South African version of a barbecue. There are challenging 4x4 routes to try out, many with stunning views along the way. Spend the nights stargazing, far away from any city lights, and wake up to the sound of birdsong.

 

3. Wildlife

 

It’s not just flora that you’ll find in Namaqualand, but plenty of fauna, too. It’s home to what is thought to be the smallest tortoise in the world, the Namaqua speckled padloper. If you’re very lucky, you might see the rare aardwolf or an African wildcat. There are klipspringer antelopes, bat-eared foxes, Cape foxes and black-backed jackals. Birders have plenty to keep them busy, too. Species at Naries Namakwa Retreat specifically include the Verreaux’s eagle, African harrier-hawk, Cape eagle owl, Karoo lark, fairy flycatcher and dusky sunbird. You can spot many of these birds from your lodge or by taking a walk around one of the reserves. Goegap Nature Reserve, just outside Springbok, is home to 92 species of birds.

 

4. River excursions

 

Namaqualand is split in two by the Orange River. Little Namaqualand is to the south of the river and the northern part is known as Great Namaqualand. This river runs across the width of South Africa, from the Drakensberg right through to Namibia. You can go rafting or canoeing down the river, either as a half-day excursion or as a multiday trip. Take a swim to cool off after a hike and keep an eye out for the many birds often seen along the banks.

 

5. Windswept beaches

 

Namaqualand borders the Atlantic coast of South Africa, where rugged beaches are battered by the ocean waves. This coastline is known for its old shipwrecks, some of which you can visit on a 4x4 tour. You might also spot whales or dolphins from the pristine beaches. Namaqua National Park has a coastal section. Here, you can admire the ocean views, spot flamingos and walk amongst the flowers and succulents that grow along the shore.

 

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Visitors to Naries Namaqua Retreat are blown away by the rich variety of animal- and bird life in and around the lodges.  As guests are welcome to meander anywhere on their own and on guided walks with our guides, its a wonderful opportunity to see and photograph some of the endemic birds and animals of this remote region. 

Many viewings take place at our watering holes and we love sharing some of these pics with you.  We’re sneaking in one of our cute little Klipspringer antelope as well – so enjoy!

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Verreaux’s Eagle (above),  previously known as the Black Eagle, is widespread throughout Southern Africa. They favour mountainous terrain where dassies (rock hyrax) form a large percentage of their diet. Like many of the large birds of prey, they mate for life and can often be spotted foraging in pairs along cliffs and mountain ranges. 

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The African Harrier-Hawk (above) is an agile raptor wonderfully adapted to a life of opportunism. Whilst like most raptors, they can appear quite majestic in flight the Gymnogene will also often be seen dangling from one leg while raiding a bird nest with the other in a most animated, clumsy fashion. They are fun to watch!

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The Klipspringer (above) is a small sturdy antelope, with unbelievable sure-footedness as it leaps from boulder to boulder in treacherous mountain terrain. 

The coat of the Klipspringer ranges from a yellowish-gray to a reddish-brown and they are superbly camouflaged in the mountainous habitat it prefers.  Females are slightly larger and heavier than males and they're often spotted in small groups of 2 to 5 individuals on the rocky outcrops of Spektakel Pass. 

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Dudley Wessels - Tour Guide Extraordinaire: An Interview

DUDLEY WESSELS – NAMAQUALAND GUIDE EXTRAORDINAIRE  AND ALL-ROUND GREAT GUY!!

Interview by:  Jeanene Jessnitz.

 

Dudley Wessels is Naries’ Preferred  Guide for the whole of Namaqualand and all our guests who’ve spent time with him, talk about their experience in glowing terms. Contact Dudley directly at 083-305-2569 to book a tour and enjoy an unforgettable experience!

 

1.       Where did you develop the love for what you do?

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and nature, and love working and sharing with like-minded people

2.       How long have you been in the conservation/tourism world?

Oh heavens, approximately 20 years full-time I think? I’ve always been into nature and completed a game rangers’ course way back in my 20’s. I worked for a mining company for many years and when it became obvious that rehabilitation and conservation were not on their list of priorities, that’s when I decided that this wasn’t for me and decided to quit and focus on what I believe is the really important issue i.e. conservation and sustainable utilization.

3.       How long have you lived in Namaqualand?

Since 1992. Before that I was at the Chamber of Mines in Gauteng, and no, I have never looked back. This is home.

4.       The area has been extensively mined. Is there still anything to see here?

Oh, absolutely. There is plenty to see and experience. This is such a diverse habitat. Insects, reptiles, plants – an incredible biodiversity out there, but you have to get out into the veld to see and experience it. From a car window it looks like nothing. You need to get into the veld.

5.       You are quite an acclaimed 4x4 guide. I believe you are a 4x4 instructor too?

I am not so sure about the “acclaimed” but yes I am 4x4 guide and an accredited 4x4 assessor.

6.       Why is it necessary to have 4x4 training? Can’t anyone just put their vehicle into four wheel drive and go for it? What could possibly go wrong?

What could go wrong? A lot can go wrong. You can kill yourself – or your loved ones. You can irreparably damage your expensive vehicle. Proper 4x4 training keeps you safe. Knowing the fundamentals of 4x4 driving will prevent you from damaging your vehicle and understanding the forces at play.

A large portion of formal 4x4 instruction is dedicated to bush-craft and conservation – to minimize your footprint in a natural environment. You’ve seen the damage that 4x4 vehicles in the wrong hands can do. Proper 4x4 training includes bush etiquette – how you ought to behave in the veld. A lot of the damage done by vehicles is through pure ignorance – people don’t even realize what harm they’re inflicting. With proper training, not only do you minimize the risk of hurting yourself or your vehicle, but your whole experience becomes far more enjoyable. One does 4x4 to take you to remote and beautiful places. You want to enjoy the trip, not spend it so stressed out or anxious that you fail to be able to enjoy the beauty around you and to leave it as you found it or cleaner!

7.       Are first time 4x4 drivers welcome on your tours?

Absolutely! I will go through every manoeuvre and technique with you step by step. You won’t feel out of your depth and we progress at your pace. That’s what training is all about. When you panic, you tend to make silly, and sometimes, dangerous mistakes. We avoid those situations completely.

8.       You’re quite famous throughout Namaqualand. What would you say are the traits what make a good tourist guide?

Passion. Passion for your environment and the enjoyment of sharing it with others. Compassion too – understanding the needs of your guests. A sound knowledge of your environment and the wider area.

What a great pleasure and privilege to be in a position to reveal the gems of our region to visitors and to provide them with the ultimate Namaqualand experience!

A good tour guide is strongly conservation-minded. You are the link between the experience and the guest, and there are two principles that a good guide will always adhere to. Number one, you will never compromise the environment (and yes, sometimes you get guests that through ignorance might want to do something that will go against that principle – it is your job as a guide to prevent this and to educate people at the same time as to why you will not allow it. Secondly, your responsibility as a guide is to provide your guests with the ultimate experience. You are the interpreter between the environment and your guests. You bear the interests of both Nature and your guests at heart.

Other important characteristics of a good guide would be reliability, field ethics, punctuality and of course that you are aptly qualified and have the necessary accreditation and training behind your name.

9.       You’re quite a photographer too. When did you start this hobby?

Back in 1976. My first camera was a Pentax MX. I’ve been hooked ever since. My favourite is probably macro photography, but I love landscapes, children, people, and sport/adventure photography. It’s hard to pinpoint which I enjoy most. I’ve also worked as a professional sports photographer – motorcar racing, adventure sports. I still freelance for sporting events.

10.   You also do specialist botany and photography tours – how do these work?

These are really exciting tours. I get to share with guests the little things that they may miss in the veld. Tiny spider webs, or succulents, or the shapes and folds in our mountains – depending on the interests of the guest. I’m also more than willing to assist people who have just taken up photography. They have the camera, but not yet the skill. Also, for many, nature photography is something new. It helps when you have someone who can “read” animal behaviour or knows when shadows will fall where and where to find specific subjects the photographer may be looking for.

11.Naries Namaqua Retreat receives regular requests for your guiding services. You take guests out for the day and return in the evening to the luxury and comfort of Naries and then head out the following day again. Is there enough to see and experience in and around Naries to keep the visitors busy for 3 or 4 days, or do is it always the same route?

Without a doubt. Naries Namaqua Retreat is wonderfully central and we never follow the same route. Different groups have different needs and desires, so what works really well is when we have 3 or 4 days together and in the evenings, we recap the day over a sundowner and plan the next day’s adventures. There is such a diversity of experiences and places to visit using Naries as the hub, no two days will ever be the same.

11.   You also do cultural tours – is there really a market for this? Don’t people only come to Namaqualand for the flowers?

Cultural tourism is very popular these days. It’s a worldwide phenomenon in tourism. Visitors are no longer satisfied with only seeing the glitzy “touristy” things. They want to know how the ordinary people live, what they do, eat, etc. I know a lot of the local folks and I  have developed firm friendships in many of the small local villages. Cultural tourism should always be non-intrusive and respectful of the people generously providing a tourist with a glimpse of their daily lives. It’s about mutual respect and trust.

12.   What if I don’t have a 4x4 – will you still be able to show me around?

Most definitely. These are often the nicest tours because we are all in the same vehicle. We see the same things while we are out. If your convoy is too large, the last vehicles may miss sightings that the first vehicles enjoyed.

13.   Anything you’d like to add?

Not really, other than the assurance that I will give you an experience to remember – whatever time of year you’re visiting Namaqualand.

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If you’re a fan of outdoor dining,  you can treat yourself to a lavish picnic basket in February when visiting Naries Namakwa Retreat! 

 

Our 3 exotic Mountain  Suites are perfect for breakaways with tranquillity and privacy a natural part of the experience.  Our recently renovated Manor House suites are spacious, luxurious and although part of the main buildings, have private patio’s and an extensive garden with many nooks and crannies for a picnic hideaway experience.   

 

PICNIC OFFER (Mountain Suites and Manor House Suites)

Naries is famous for its lavish Picnics and as our Manor House and Mountain Suite Accommodation packages include Dinner, Bed and Breakfast, we offer visitors in February the opportunity to book a picnic for two INSTEAD of Dinner.

 

We will pack the basket full of luscious goodies and guests are welcome to choose a spot in the gardens, at their own unit on the deck or patio or at the spectacular viewing point to enjoy their picnic.   

 

PCINIC OFFER (Self-catering cottages)

Our fully equipped Self-catering cottages do not include meals as part of the package,  but for R600 per couple, we will pack your picnic basket brimful of goodies to share,  either at your cottage or at another spot of your choice.

 

RESERVATIONS:  Contact Susan at reservations@naries.co.za to book your Picnic experience as part of your accommodation.  

 

T’s and C’s

·         State clearly that you want to book the February special offer picnic as part of your accommodation package as we need at least 7days’ confirmation to ensure preparation goes smoothly.

·         Arrival on the day of the picnic must be before 18h00 to ensure your picnic can be set up in the venue of your choice.

 

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