Fear not if you're reading the word 'retreat' with a certain sense of trepidation. You can forget joyless misery and think literally - to withdraw, to draw back. Rest, relax, chillax. In quiet seclusion. Seriously, you won’t even find a TV in your room.
Naries Namakwa Retreat has a total vibe of switching off. Let the romance of the Northern Cape's rural life spill over you. Watch springbok, oryx, klipspringer. They’ve been re establishing indigenous antelope since the 1990s. It will be zebra next. As they once called these harsh, barren hills home too.
Choose between mountain suites, rooms in the Cape Dutch Manor House, or self-catering family cottages.
The 3 mountain suites are simultaneously lusciously luxurious and brutally rustic. Thatched domes which look like boulders hurled out there. Remote, private, about 1km from the Manor House. Mountain Suite 3 is not suitable for the elderly and physically challenged. And there’s no air con, just loose standing fans. Arty, rock-lined interiors. En-suite. Patio and phenomenal mountain views. But no TV, no mobile phone signal, no Wi-Fi, no children under 11. You better start getting to know each other. Like Lionel Ritchie. All night long. We're going to parti', karamu', fiesta, forever...
Enough. Ok. There are more classic en suite rooms in the Manor House. 5 in total. Some rooms have a private patio and twin beds, others are wheelchair friendly, furnished with a double bed, and have a bathroom with both a shower and bath. These are air conditioned.
The cheaper options are the 2 family self catering cottages. These have 2 en-suite bedrooms, one with a king-sized bed and the other with twin beds. Each with en-suite bathrooms. Ceiling fans. Children welcome. Indoor braai/fireplace and an outdoor braai area. Mountain views and stars. Lots of stars. If you fancy dinner you need to book it at the time of your reservation via email. No children under 12 allowed in the dining room.
There's a lot on offer here. If you come at a certain time of year (August-October) you will witness one of Earth's most spectacular displays. The flowers go nuts and have an almighty jamboree. Showing off left, right and centre. Naries is in prime Namaqua flower territory. The desert gets dressed up in floral splendour. Daisies, perennial herbs, lilies, succulents, aloes. About 4,000 species of plant grow here. And some seeds lie dormant for a number of seasons awaiting for the right moment to spring forth and stun their neighbours.
A shipwreck tour is a good option too. You can take a 37km trip on the Namaqualand Diamond Coast in a 4x4. The coastline between Koingnaas and Kleinzee is virtually unspoilt. Imagine the plight and fight of the Piratiny, Arosa and Border ships. There are also archaeological sites from the Late Stone Age and various historical sites to see.
Naries is about a 2 hours drive from the Orange River. This is an interesting place to explore. You can even go on a rafting minibreak for several days if you fancy it. The river is surrounded by semi precious stone, rock formations, and volcanic rock as well as small animals, primates and lots of birds. Think basic, rustic camping but it's not that basic seeing as you will have access to hot and cold showers with flush toilets.
And then there is the marvellous Richtersveld National Park to gawp at. All rugged kloofs and mountain highs. This is the vast mountain desert. Harsh, unpredictable. Early morning fog rolls in from the Atlantic and sustains a remarkable range of reptiles, birds and mammals.
Huge range of plant life. Two trees are particularly synonymous. The brilliantly named bastard Quiver Tree and the Halfmens (half-human) or Elephant's Trunk.
This bountiful national park is a beast of nature. A mega-ecosystem. One of the world's greatest.