Eight kilometres is all you need to travel off the N1 national highway between Colesberg (50km away) and Hanover (25km away) in South Africa to experience a tranquil getaway at New Holme Nature Lodge.
New Holme Nature Lodge is located in the Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve, one of the two reserves (the other is Hanover Aardvark Reserve) which forms part of the recently rebranded KhoiSan Karoo Conservancy.
Owner PC Ferreira started with just one room which had two single beds, over 25 years ago (on the 16th December 1995) to accommodate travellers between the Western Cape and Gauteng, as well as those travelling between Upington and the Garden Route. New Holme now boasts eight newly renovated rooms, which caters for up to 27 guests - if you are thinking of a secluded wedding venue.
The Karoo Gariep property also offers a self catering log cabin (Stoffels Rus Self Catering Log Cabin), and a tented camp site (Karoo Gariep Tented Camp).
We recently stopped over for a two-night stay at the New Holme Nature Lodge on our way back from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) to Johannesburg, and we were delighted that we did.
The stay was both restful and educational. PC and his wife Marisca treat every guest, including us, like family who are visiting them at their home, and their pleasant assistant Denise shares the same values.
Breakfast and Dinner
Marisca went out of her way to ensure that we were adequately catered for, as she was aware of our dietary requirements before our arrival (Halaal), and made sure that we were accommodated with each meal.
Each day for breakfast and dinner during our stay, Marisca would tell us what is on the menu before she prepared her gourmet meals.
On our first night for dinner Marisca whipped up a delicious snoek in a pocket of phyllo pastry with a salad that included pieces of feta, lettuce, cucumber, rocket, and beetroot crisps, for starters.
Our main meal was a tantalizing piece of hake topped with a creamy cheese sauce, paired with sweet tasting roasted vegetables, mashed caramelised sweet potato, and a soft baked potato stuffed with red onions, mushrooms and cheese.
We enjoyed a delectable portion of malva pudding and custard for dessert after our guided night drive.
Our son was content with his toasted cheese sandwich and fries meal (his own request); and was most excited with his ice-cream on a cone after his meal.
On our second night Marisca out did herself again, with succulent garlic mussels, chopped camembert cheese, beetroot crisps, sliced fig and avocado, basil and lettuce all drizzled with a flavoursome salad dressing for starters.
For our main meal Marisca made sure she had some Halaal chicken so she could prepare a lovely homely dish for us - roasted chicken drumsticks and vegetables, sweet slices of quince, and a cute little potato fritter.
Our son enjoyed a bowl of macaroni and cheese, with a side of the potato fritter and a roasted chicken drumstick prepared like our mains.
I chose to try the traditional South African melktert for dessert, which I'm glad I did, while my wife and son enjoyed bowls of ice-cream.
The breakfast spread was more than enough to fill our tummies, with bran muffins, crumpets, cereals, yoghurts, toast, baked beans and a scrumptious little peanut-butter and granola puff pastry tart.
Even with all the above as well as fresh coffee, tea, punch, ice-tea, and orange juice; Marisca still prepared a unique mouth-watering breakfast platter each morning for us which consisted of a cinnamon chaux pastry filled with yoghurt and muesli garnished with mint, served with a side of freshly chopped and sliced fruits - prickly pear, nectarine, grapes, banana, melon.
We don't consume alcohol, but there is a section within the dining area that has cold beverages and bottled water, which is named the Honesty Bar.
PC and Marisca trust their guests and allow them to consume anything that is in the Honesty Bar, and only ask that they record in a little log book what they have taken - in order to settle the bill on their departure from New Holme Nature Lodge.
While Marisca prepares her gastronomic meals, PC is the local guide for all the KhoiSan Karoo Conservancy has to offer.
PC taught us quite a bit about the history of the area, the former inhabitants, and the current fauna and the flora.
1. Night Drive
With the sweet smell of the Karoo bush and the crisp night air, after dinner on our first night, PC took us out with a group of guests in his open-sided four wheel drive sun-canopied vehicle for a Night Drive.
As we drove along the gravel road, we had the pleasure of viewing the moon rise over the horizon. The moon changed colour from red, to a bright orange, and eventually to an illuminating yellow against the black sky surrounded by the shimmering stars.
The Night Drive is to view all the nocturnal animals of the region. While we didn't see the Aardwolf, Cape fox, Bat-eared fox, African wildcat, Aardvark, Porcupine, Striped polecat, African striped Weasel, Genet, or even the tiny rare Black footed cat which guests frequently spot, we were fortunate enough to see some of the other indigenous animals and nocturnal birds of the Karoo.
The Spring Hare was quite fascinating as it has a long tail and hops around like a little Kangaroo. We noticed some Impala and Blesbok resting in the veld, and we recognised the Dikkop (spotted thick-knee bird). It was our first time spotting a Spotted Eagle-Owl, a Jackal Buzzard in all it's glory, and two Double-Banded Coursers. Our rarest sighting was the Bronze-Winged Courser as it is not usually found in the region.
2. Bird Watching
The next morning, just after sunrise, Nabihah (my wife and co-founder of iloveza.com) joined the group for a guided bird watching drive with PC, and she managed to spot quite a diverse group of feathered creatures during the early morning drive.
3. KhoiSan Etching
After breakfast PC took our little family for a private and exceptionally educating drive to visit a site which is almost like a real-life museum. Besides the animals that roam the area and the few guided tours which take place, there has been no interference of the land for a number of years. There are still pieces of rusted metal and glass which PC explained is to be from when the English passed through the area in the late 1800s to early 1900s. PC paints such a wonderful canvas with his extensive knowledge of the area, that one can almost picture the people who once occupied this part of the Karoo. We learnt about the animals and insects of the area and how each and everyone one of them are all connected and have an extremely important part to play in the eco-system. The most surprising part of the tour was seeing two very distinct KhoiSan paintings on rocks of animals, which according to PC were sighted at one point by the KhoiSan people.
4. Sundown Hippo Drive
Our last activity was just before sundown where PC took us on a private family drive to visit the resident Hippopotamus. On our way to the hippo pool we saw some buffalo grazing, one lifted his head and then nodded at us almost like in a greeting gesture. At the home of the large semi-aquatic mammal, we didn't have to wait long before he swam up to us, as if he was expecting us, and kept us entertained for about 45 minutes with his antics.
These activities are usually done over a 4 day period and packages are from R3250 per person all inclusive.
If you are just looking for a room for a night or two, there are spacious rooms like the one we stayed in, The Stables at New Holme Double, from R900 per room per night.
Our room was fully equipped with:
- two single beds pushed together
- wooden pedestals on either side of the bed
- a three seater waiting chair against the wall with bright coloured cushions
- an airconditioner
- a little dressing table
There is a little side area near the entrance of the room with a:
- work desk
- mirror above the desk
- portable heater under the desk
- built-in-wardrobe with drawers in the corner of the area
- kettle with milk pods, tea, sugar, and coffee sachets on the desk
The bathroom is accessible via a sliding wooden door and has a:
- well-designed walk-in shower with Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve branded bathroom amenities
There is a little patio outside the room with garden furniture to relax in while watching the sun set.
In the room itself there is no active Wi-Fi connection, but if you step outside you might be able to pick up some connectivity from the router in the dining area.
If you are looking to work remotely without any distractions in the Karoo, New Holme Nature Lodge does have a special running on accommodation from R2000 for a week.
Whether you are looking for a rest-stop with all the comforts in a quaint private farm, or you are keen to learn the history of the Karoo and see all that it has to offer, New Holme Nature Lodge is worth putting on your bucket-list.
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Ziyaad Plaatjes is the Co-Founder of iloveza.com.
He is a Bachelor of Commerce Honours graduate and has been running businesses since the age of 13. Ziyaad is a registered Financial Advisor, but has taken on many roles in various industries over the years. With his entrepreneurial skills and vast knowledge he assists individuals and businesses to grow and achieve their goals.
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