Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Daberas Farm, Augrabies, Northern Cape


This is true luxury – a spacious desert wilderness alive with texture and colour and movement of creatures, without another human being in sound or sight. Photographer’s paradise, this is a place of Kokerboom trees, boulders of Rose Quartz strewn casually about, thick golden grasses and rust-coloured rock. 

Daberas Farm is a 10 000 hectare protected conservation area which borders on the Augrabies National Park. You may choose to stay in the campground, surrounded by Dassie-filled cliffs and remote from any other habitation. Accessible only with 4 X 4, the campsite is nevertheless well equipped with two full bathrooms, fire pits and a slatted roof dining area. There is no electricity at the campsite, which is part of the charm, though one may hire a portable trailer with gas and utensils, stretchers for sleeping outdoors, along with elegant wooden tables and chairs for alfresco dining.

The softer alternative is a traditional cottage with wrap-around verandah, set up against one of the most beautiful Kokerboom trees I have ever seen. A farm-style kitchen and lounge feels part of the setting, and the cottage has 3 bedrooms, a shower and toilet off the verandah. A large fire pit will still draw you outdoors into the spacious openness.

And this place is all about that great outdoors. Despite how much there is to do and see in this vast wilderness, we spend an inordinate amount of time sitting around this open fire, watching the colours of the dawn change in layers from black to purple to orange to pink to blue in the sky and again later gazing as the process reverses as the sun slowly sets.

Accommodation Experience:
While mindful of the local leopard which moves through the campground on its way to the watering hole, we decide to sleep out in the open so that we may look up into the stars. It is winter and we light a fire and sleep close to it, with the shared instruction that if anyone wakes up in the night, that person should reach over and toss a fresh log on the fire.

The night is crisp clear. I open my eyes soon after midnight to see the Southern Cross right above me and as I roll over I see Hair of Berenice with my naked eyes (a constellation named after another goddess, while my own hat-head hair is well concealed under a beanie). I feel happy – as happy as happy can be – happy as only a child can usually feel. And this moment of happiness seems to stretch to forever, such that I can even draw on it now as I sit here and write.

Mark Nepo proposes “The soul’s only interest is for us to be as alive as possible. The aliveness of our soul is our career.”

It is all I can do to plot my return to this spacious rocky desert of Kokerboom trees, boulders of Rose Quartz strewn casually about, thick golden grasses, rust-coloured rock and starry nights so clear your soul soars with the not-quite-forgotten happiness of a child.