On a farm 27km west of Springbok lies Naries Namakwa Retreat. When I arrived, the new chef was stooping over a rosemary bush, kitchen scissors in hand. Lamb? No, beef was on the menu. The herb garden was making long shadows in the yellow afternoon light and a boisterous teenage ridgeback dog was bouncing through the shrubs. From the elegant lounge with its deep sofas, soft classical music was pouring through the windows.
Naries offers three accommodation options. The graceful farmhouse has been renovated to accommodate 10 guests in five ‘manor house’ rooms. Rooms have king/twin beds and huge en suite bathrooms with walk-in showers and Victorian baths. Two modern well-appointed houses, a stone-throw from the farmhouse, offer self-catering accommodation for four guests each. But the best option at Naries is the mountain suites. Three dome-like structures are wedged between the huge granite boulders, each with a wooden deck and view westwards. Rough stone forms the walls of these rooms and dome thatch ceilings shape them into organic cocoons.
Manor house and mountain suite rates include a three-course supper, excluding drinks. The menu offers a choice of two starters, mains and deserts as well as a small selection of wines, beer and spirits. The creamy mussels with dill and garlic were superb, while the sizeable rump was cooked to perfection. Breakfast was equally luxurious and included freshly baked bread, home-made preserves and fruit. A wide stoep was converted to a dining room with steps leading down to the garden. The garden of lavender, shrubs and vines merges with the wild vegetation and leads to the start of a hiking trail. Small cozy corners provide hide-aways from the Namaqualand heat, and a bright topaz-blue swimming pool brings relief in the summer.
Naries does not offer the usual retreat amenities such as spa services, so no massages or sterile treatment rooms. What Naries does best is a sensual reconnection with nature. Here, your soul can retreat into silence, (but there is Wi-Fi and cellphone reception, if absolutely needed). Best stay two to three nights to explore the garden, hiking trails and tranquility.