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!


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. 


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!


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


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 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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Fabian Adams started working on Naries in March this year as an intern. Part of his training was exposure to all the facets of tourism – from scullery and housekeeping to frontline dealing with guests.

After this exposure, he was placed as a guide-in-training. In South Africa, being s tourist guide without the necessary accreditation and registration is illegal and both the “guide” as well as his/her employer can face heavy penalties and fines if caught. However, the system does make provision for guides in training and we are confident that Fabian will receive his accreditation within this year.


1.       Who is Fabian?

I am Fabian Adams. I come from Kamieskroon which is 76km South of Springbok.

2.       Were you born in Kamieskroon?

Fabian: No, I was born in Garies, but grew up in Kamieskroon

3.       Tell me about your family

Fabian: I have my mother and a younger sister. My father passed away 10 years ago. My sister is also doing an internship at the Kamieskroon Primary School.

4.       Where does your interest in Tourism originate? Are any of your friends and family also in tourism?

My mother, Angeline, is involved with Ouma Hanna se Kookkas in Kamieskroon. They offer traditional Nama food and also make traditional Nama “kappies” (bonnets) (Ouma Hanna is very well-known and a bit of a Namaqualand celeb like Grietjie from  Garies was) There I saw the interest in Namaqualand and the potential in tourism. When I got the opportunity to become an intern on Naries, I did not hesitate. Here I am training to become a tourist guide.

5.       How have you experienced it so far?

 So far I find it very interesting and I am learning new things every day. My aim is to attract more tourists to our country and also to Naries.

6.       And now the difficult question. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

I will have completed my training. I want to be one of the best tourist guides in Namaqualand. Once I have completed my basic accreditation, I really would like to study further and expand on my guide qualifications. I would also like to write a book on my experiences as a guide.

7.       Doesn’t it get lonely sometimes with your family so far away?

 I miss my family, but I get on well with everyone on Naries and the people here are all like family to me.

8.       How often do you see your family?

I work 21 days and 7 days off. When I have the week off, I go home to Kamieskroon.

9.       Well, Fabian, we wish you all success in your new career and we will be watching your progress with great interest.

Thank you very much and thank you Naries for the opportunity. 




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Flower season is upon us again and visitors from all over the world flock to Namaqualand to admire this annual event, returning home with thousands of photographs and good memories of their experiences. Photos can never replace the actual experience of being there and allowing your senses to absorb this miracle of life.


Many of the plants are really, really tiny – no larger than the tip of your little finger. Others are rather extravagant in their size and colour. However, they all share one thing in common. Over thousands of years, they have all magnificently adapted to the harsh Namaqualand climes. Such is their adaptation that many of our plant species are endemic (occurring only here and nowhere else in the country or the world). Because these plants are so well adapted to very specific habitats, many of them are also rare, endangered or even critically endangered. 


And now the story gets ugly. Human greed and Man’s obsession to own rare things has led to a surge in plant poaching. Where do plant poachers gravitate to when looking for rare specimens? Naturally Namaqualand, with its high endemism, is a paradise for these ruthless environmental thugs.  Posing as tourists coming to enjoy the flowers, these collectors rape and pillage without a thought beyond wanting this special plant in their personal collection.


Let’s be clear on what the law says:

It is illegal to destroy, disturb or remove indigenous plants or any parts thereof. Collecting seed-heads or cuttings or an entire plant is a criminal offence which can land one in jail and/or with a hefty fine and a criminal record.

I often hear the argument that the production of these plants in nurseries and gardens is a way of conserving them, but consider the following:

·         Most smuggled plants die in transit anyway

·         Smuggling plants leads to the spreading of plant pathogens and diseases - the repercussions of which we have no clue. South African plants are adapted to South African conditions and there is a balance in nature that keeps everything under control.  A smuggled plant might be harbouring mould spores or other pathogens which, let loose in an environment with no natural controls, can wreak havoc in its new environment

·         Nurserymen are fond of hybridizing and genetically manipulating for larger flowers, unusual foliage colour/shape or whatever their interest is. These hybrids are of no use to nature – in fact they are a threat to the original plant

·         Poachers do not EVER have the environment in mind. It’s a money game. Unadulterated greed.



If you are in possession of protected plants, you need a permit and proof of purchase. Genetic testing will quickly show up the origin of the plant i.e. whether it comes from a nursery and/or was taken out of habitat. When purchasing a protected plant you need to make sure that the nursery has the necessary permits.

In South Africa, plants may not cross provincial borders without an export permit from the one province and an import permit from the other.

It may seem to you that “just this one little plant/cutting is not going to destroy Namaqualand”, but think again. If everyone thought this way, then it certainly would. By smuggling plants - whether for your own collection or for the black market - you are perpetuating a problem. Face it, we all tend to be hypocrites in some areas of our lives, “I’ll take a chance with this cutting, but I hate litterbugs”, “I’m dead against rhino poaching, but I want this plant for my rockery” – I’m sure that you can think of many more examples of Man’s selective morality.

Years of devastating drought have put our flora and fauna under enormous strain. Many hardy, drought-resistant species have clung to life but lost the battle, others have barely survived. Our floral kingdom now faces a horrifying surge in poaching. The primarily Asian demand for rare possessions is a serious threat to our fragile biodiversity and we need everyone’s support in this battle.

What to do if you suspect plant poaching:

·         Report suspicious activity to lodge management and the following immediately:

Ø  082-492-8291 or  082-560-8700 or  083-264-2223 (Phone, sms or Whatsapp)

·          You may remain anonymous. Dialling 10111 from anywhere in South Africa puts you through to the police station nearest to you.

·         Try to get vehicle registration number and description. Any additional information but only do this if you can do so discreetly.

·         Never try to intervene or confront these people. Confrontation may put your life at risk – remember you could be dealing with seasoned criminals.

·         Another reason to avoid confronting suspected poachers is that by doing so, you are alerting them to the fact that they have been seen. This gives them time to get away – only to be able to continue with their criminal activities elsewhere. Report suspected illegal activity immediately and allow the law enforcement officers deal with them so that we can be assured of their arrest and prosecution.


Help us to protect our environment. We in South Africa are all too aware of what is happening to our rhino population. Plants, however, do not cause such a stir and people tend to be far less vociferous and emotional about flora than fauna. We rely on our visitors to report these incidents and we are deeply grateful to those that do. Enjoy a spectacular flower season!

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