Beautiful but brutal, Namaqualand is the ideal place for adventure seekers interested in glamping – and Agama Tented Camp is an excellent base for all your activities. It’s a five-and-a-half-hour drive straight up the N7 from Cape Town, but still you arrive as fresh as the Namaqualand daisies you have come to see. Where you are arriving is Agama Tented Camp, 20 km on the other side of Garies – a dusty pitstop on the way northwards.
Agama is named for the intricately patterned lizards hiding between the craggy rocks. They are shy creatures. If you are lucky – and quick of eye – you may even see the blue-headed southern rock agama.
You sleep under canvas, but perched on decks, leaving enough room below for a wandering aardvark to fumble around in the dark. Each double tent has an en-suite bathroom and, although not luxury, there is a (very welcome) flushing loo as well as hot and cold running water in the shower, which already ratchets up the camping experience. The farm sleeps 14 in either double or twin rooms, in large and comfortable beds.
Nestled in a valley, the sun rising behind you, the air is clear and crisp. In the evening you can hear the baboons bark and cry across the valley, and the smell of fynbos hangs heavy in the air.
Although there is no electricity in the tents, the soft lamps lend a welcome glow. The gas heater adds to the allure too, as spring nights are cold in the valley. Agama is a working farm, with cattle, sheep and game. There’s gemsbok, grey rhebok and honey badgers; springbok, duiker and klipspringer; caracal, aardwolf and black-backed jackal, among plenty of other wildlife. Leopard spoor was spotted one morning, too.
Agama Tented Camp is situated in a private conservation area, roughly in the middle of five consolidated farms. The original portion of the farm has been in the Burke family for six generations, and today is run by owner Victor Burke and his wife Linda.
Guests come for the nearby Namaqua National Park, and of the five mountain passes, Vanrhyns Pass is epic and should not be missed. Make sure to bring your mountain bike and your hiking shoes – the whole farm is open to exploration. Trail running is a particular favourite.
Agama is on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis. It’s not self-catering though, and lunch must be taken on the hoof as you tootle around the region. In spring, there are great fields of flowers everywhere, the landscape coloured in hues of orange, yellow and purple as far as the eye can see – a truly magnificent sight.
The large and welcoming communal area has electricity and WiFi if you needit, but who does when your eyes get all the stimulation they need from the landscape? It looks out on to a north-facing pool, sheltered from the wind that gives the Windhoek mountain its name. Here, drinks are shared and tales are told of the wonders of the succulent Karoo.
The food is all cooked by Linda – and there’s an emphasis on it being home-cooked and delicious, with farm lamb and beef featuring prominently on the menu. In fact, the cottage pie was declared the best ever tasted.
Agama offers decent, old-fashioned values amid wild bush and quiet landscape. The atmosphere and service in the communal area is unobtrusive and homely – fire is kept going, drinks are offered now and again, and blinds are let down when it gets too cold. Hot water bottles for the cold nights are a nice touch. And then there are the stars; so far away from any light pollution, they are incandescent, great glowing fairy lights strewn across the inky night sky. Here, you glimpse infinity.
Need to know
Agama has five twin tents with two with king size beds. All tents have private rustic bathrooms. There are no self-catering facilities. There is a 10 km dirt road to the camp, but it can be reached in a sedan. From R1 750 pp pn sharing during flower season, August to December. agamacamp.co.za