Turn left off Prince Albert’s main Church Street up an unpretentious gravel road named Magrieta Prinsloo Road, Skaapies Einde and you might think you are driving into Karoo scrubland populated only by peacefully grazing sheep; after all Skaapies Einde means Sheep’s End.
Instead, the absent Ms Magrieta Prinsloo leads you to the humble edifice of Avoova’s elegant gift shop and factory, which first established this international brand with original crafted decorative items artistically rendered from ostrich shell pieces.
Today, Avoova employs 50 local artisan crafters and exports fine wares to multiple overseas destinations, elevating the repute of the the world’s largest flightless bird and its equally large but humble ostrich egg – one which can easily be likened to the Faberge egg of the Karoo.
Not only producing beautiful gift ware to adorn your home or to shower on friends and family, Avoova also looks after its community. Together with famed photographer and author Obie Oberholzer, Avoova raises funds for local education through beautiful images of the Karoo’s people and landscape with the sale of the book Karoo Story, another beautiful keepsake to take away with you. You can also visit Avoova at its four other boutique shops in and around the Cape.
Artists, Art Galleries and Giftware
With Avoova, undoubtedly the retail star in Prince Albert’s shopper’s corner, singular artistry still survives with local metal worker Kashief Booley carrying the title of Prince Albert’s blacksmith.
Not so long ago, every small town had a blacksmith who was indispensable to life from supplying tools, repairing wheels and shoeing horses. Today Booley is an artistic blacksmith who supplies locals with crafted items such as gates, burglar bars and other needful things. Perhaps in response to the sound of metal crashing on metal all day, he remains a man of few words.
Happy to fill you in with all the delectable art history and future investment possibilities of the art world however is Kurt fromWatershed. Situated inside a beautifully restored Victorian house typical of the architecturally rich town of Prince Albert, Watershed is a haven in which to browse and buy interior design, art, furniture and fashion artfully displayed throughout its four interlinked showrooms.
Along with an impressive collection of retro furniture, Watershed houses selected prints of world-renowned photographer Jürgen Schadeberg and the Karoo Collection, a showcase of local artists’ work.
From Berlin with Love
Schadeberg is the Berlin-born photographer who snapped many famous Drum magazine covers in the 1950s, as well as almost all of the remaining photographs of Nelson Mandela before he was imprisoned.
Framed copies and other memorabilia of the Drum covers are available for sale at the Watershed, which lays claim to house the only exclusive gallery of the works of internationally acclaimed photographer Jürgen Schadeberg in the world.
A Portrait of Mandela
Referred to as the ‘father of South African photography’, the Berlin-born photographer has lived and worked in South Africa for much of his life. He is particularly known for his striking portraits, including those of Nelson Mandela over several decades, the 1950s black musical and political scene while chief photographer, picture editor and art director of the magazine in the 1950s, as well as Apartheid and modern South Africa. He now lives in Germany, but Kurt is on hand for art lovers and memorabilia collectors to purchase signed and framed copies of his photographs.
Prince Albert to New York
International journalist Joseph Berger was one such collector who not only bought his own signed copy of a Schadeberg but was also moved to write a beautiful travel article about the heritage and crafting community in Prince Albert titled ‘An Artist Colony Thrives in the South Africa Desert’ for the New York Times Travel section.
Local photographer Louis Botha is another artist who finds sanctuary in Prince Albert and in the hearts of Michael and Renate, owners of the four-star De Bergkant Lodge which is highlighted in Joseph Berger’s New York Times travel piece for its beautiful heritage buildings and 4-star hospitality.
Louis Botha’s framed art works adorn De Bergkant Lodge’s dining room walls where the public is welcome to pop in and browse and buy together his two books Slow Down, Look Again andKaroo on sale as beautiful keepsakes of one’s travels through the Karoo’s vast and silent landscape populated with hardy but ultimately authentic characters. You can also pick up a pack of his beautiful photographic cards and send a message home to arrive before you do. You can read more about Louis Botha on De Bergkant Lodge’s blog here.
A Gem of a Small Town Life
Says Michael, owner of De Bergkant Lodge: “We like to believe that we bring a lot of international attention to this hidden Karoo village from the many Swiss, German, Dutch and other European travelers who like to enjoy nature blended with luxury hospitality.
“We have made a big investment in purchasing the lodge and want to share both its beauty and its tourism potential with the local towns people. We recommend all the natural and sporting adventure services and book dining arrangements for our guests at the local eateries. Wherever we can, we uplift the community and highlight the many talents and skills to be found and enjoyed here.”
De Bergkant Lodge also employs and trains local staff at De Bergkant Lodge and bring international service standards to what more sophisticated townie’s might only consider a ‘dorp’.
Renate, who heads up housekeeping says, “Michael is extremely exacting. Every little detail is considered and room preparation and set up is precise. Coming from a Swiss finance and banking industry, there is no room for error.”
“Of course,” says Michael, “we expect initiative and integrity from the people we employ. Not everyone is up to meeting our standard, but we are very lucky in having found Ashley who started with us as dining service staff and who is now promoted to front office. It is always a two-way street and expectation without effort won’t get someone stable employment. It goes without saying that theft or tardiness is not tolerated here.”
International Investment Uplifts a Small South African Town
De Bergkant Lodge’s international standards pay off not just for the upliftment of its service staff but for the town itself too. On any lazy afternoon, spent basking around one of the Lodge’s three swimming pools you can hear more than three international languages being spoken; but De Bergkant Lodge is as popular with local travelers too, hosting politicians to celebrities from across the country.
Investing in South Africa doesn’t come without its challenges as Swiss-born Michael and Renate have discovered. The village recently experience two electricity blackout of 19 hours each which impact booking systems and guest comfort.
“We are learning to adapt and unfortunately have had to go the route of generators to keep connected with our guest bookings. Luckily the South African sun makes solar an option for our geysers in our ten rooms and with most restaurants using gas to prepare foods, it means dinners are set to enjoy the romance of candlelight if Eskom brings us more blackouts. We like to call this adaption as the ‘art of living’ in the Karoo!”, chuckles Michael.
Art lovers will be interested in the upcoming Open Studios art weekend taking place from 5 – 8 July where resident artists open their studios – often located in their homes – to the public, creating the village’s very own ‘art route’.
Visitors have the chance to not only view the artists’ art, but to meet them in person and discuss their work with them. These works include mediums ranging from land art, water colors, ceramics, letter art, stone carvings, oils and acrylics.
Book your next breakaway at De Bergkant Lodge at www.debergkant.com.
How do you experience five star luxury when on a mobile tented safari in the African bushveld?
It’s a matter of simply deciding which pristine natural wildlife reserve or Big 5 game region you would like to experience and leave the finer 5-star details to your hosts.
As the only 5-star rated mobile safari outfitter on the continent – and a World Travel Awards winner as the World’s Best Glamping Operator, Hayward Safaris has been taking big-group corporate incentive teams, royalty and Hollywood celebrities on safari for 25 years.
You can be forgiven if, like one or two safari-virgin guests, you are initially wary of what some might perceive as ‘ bush camping’. This perception always evaporates into open blue skies as soon as you are welcomed into camp.
What sets Hayward Safaris apart as the best safari experience in Africa?
We bring you five star reasons that will have you tracing in the footsteps of some of the most renown adventurers on the continent whilst being hosted in complete comfort and style, as your senses take in all the colour, vibrancy and excitement Africa has to offer.
Firstly, what is 5-star in South Africa?
A five-star rating assures you your experience is outstanding. South Africa’s star system is an internationally recognised system of quality assurance evaluated by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Five stars is the best possible quality experience you can receive in the country. According to the TGCSA, your safari is a top notch, first class safari – and Haywards Safaris is the only mobile safari outfitter to hold a 5-star lodge rating.
The Tourism Grading Council applies strict internationally acknowledged criteria to its grading process and is known as a world leader in this industry. With a single glance at the star rating, international visitors can recognise world-class quality and service excellence.
“When we promote our five star graded mobile safaris to event professionals and international meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) agents, we are helping South Africa achieve the highest level of quality assurance which improves the country’s competition edge globally,” says Owner and Adventure Extraordinaire Peter Hayward.
“Our five -star rating assures international guests that they are receiving the optimal value for their money and give the customer expectation the paramount position it deserves. We are passionate about South Africa and want to show all it has to offer. We can only offer a complete experience if every detail of a guest’s safari event or expedition is delivered to the highest standards of service.”
What sets Haywards apart from other safari experiences?
“We are a big group mobile safari outfitter which caters to between 40 and 200 guests either for a corporate events, product launches, safari destination weddings or exclusive private safaris. Our first question to you is, we have a 5-star safari camp, where would you like it?”
The Hayward’s 5-star experience is not accessible to just anyone. Haywards doesn’t do FIT or single tourist bookings. A mobile 5-star camp is an exclusive venue set up in remote areas for large synergistic groups. It provides an exclusive and secluded private event experience in some of the most remote and pristine nature environments to be found in the world.
Each experience is rooted in the positioning of the mobile camp and your bespoke access to the extravagance of Nature herself.
A mobile safari takes you out of the four walls of a traditional safari lodge and brings you into direct commune with your environment where you wake, sleep, partake in walking safaris, game view the Big 5 in private reserves where there are no other vehicles to be seen in your photo frame. Experience night drives, game tracking and wildlife tagging, sunset cruises, and engagement with rural communities who offer a glimpse into the vast wisdom of their heritage.
A Hayward’s Safari is hands-on and tangible and reminds you of your earliest origins.
For those who don’t want to waste time or budget on complicated logistics or the hassle of travelling long distance to Big 5 safari destinations in long-haul regional destinations such as Mpumalanga, Namibia, or East Africa, Haywards Safari Headquarters offers a Big 5 camp location set within a private section of the Dinokeng Wildlife Reserve, just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg International Airport and offers a safari experience that surpasses the Kruger in intimate safari encounters. .
Each group safari experience is distinct to the other. This is because each group is offered a bespoke event orchestrated from the start to meet the client’s specific requirements. In preparation for your arrival, Haywards have ordered and stocked your hand-picked wine list, your imported whiskies, brandies and cigars.
Each evening is themed specific to the aspects particular to your event and daily activities and entertainment proceeds according to your preset travel programme.
The South African Corporate experience should be at home
With strong international safari aspiration, many of the Hayward’s mobile safaris are booked by international agents for global corporate conglomerates.
“We would like to see more incentive professionals keeping our blue-chip corporate incentive groups based here in South Africa. We have an internationally recognized incentive and event offering which helps us to support our growing tourism economy in South Africa.
Instead of sending corporate travel budgets and event funding over-border to Mauritius, for example, we ask event professionals to consider our own exclusive incentive offerings. Many South Africans already vacation in Mauritius and it’s an experience they can book themselves on their own budget.
“We are a world class experience as evidenced by the guests we have hosted over the years and South Africans should have the opportunity of experiencing it too.
While we do offer very exclusive mobile lodges in the Kruger National Park, it is a completely private experience where you won’t see another vehicle or group as you are hosted in an exclusive area set aside just for you. The same goes for the Okavango Delta, the Cradle of Humankind or a private safari in the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site where we offer a Big 6 elite service and adventure experience that is totally intimate and private.
Where does South Africa’s service standards play a part?
The only way to understand the level of safari service offering is to visit the Hayward’s client feedback page on their website. Every safari event is rated personally by individual guests over a 10 point service offering. Feedback is examined and anything below 9.5 out of ten points is given in-depth attention.
As a five-star offering the Haywards mobile safari camp is complete with a butler service there to prepare hot water for your en suite bathroom, a turn down service, escort you to the dining tents and bring you morning coffee and biscuits. Not just the butlers however, the entire staff crew are there to know the guest’s names, anticipate their needs, share information and advice and provide a bespoke and personalized service through attention to detail.
Your luxury accommodation features the sophistication of king-size beds, extra seating, Africology skin and bath products and detailing which is carried through to the luxury Spa, private Club lounge and gourmet 18-course dining events rendered with extravagant white nights décor and entertainment typical of safari trader experiences of days past.
“We have never received a rating below 9.5,” says Hayward, “We proudly claim to be extraordinary in every manner. I have never missed a single safari event since our inception.
“This is not a helicopter-style management camp. My team is a professional core outfit of game rangers, guides, highly trained, armed and experienced in working in the bush and there to protect lives. In camp we have private housekeepers, butlers, chefs and silver service waiters on 24-hours attendance necessary on safari; if you’ve never seen a herd of elephant walking through camp it can be quite staggering especially if you come from Europe or the US.
“We only work with the industry’s best and most renowned scientists and astrologers, entertainers and event professionals, and we have even had the privilege of staging the Dire Straits rock band who played for a private clients 60th birthday party.
The niche mobile 5-star safari differentiation
Responsible tourism makes up a large part of Hayward Safaris offering as well as its eco and conservation focused accomplishments.
A big group Sacred Safari is a high-end safari camp which is based within local communities and generates funds for future community empowerment and education within a conservation mindset. Each safari groups participation contributes significantly to the areas visited, within schedules, special programmes and projects.
The conservation of the land through a ‘leave no trace’ principle, together with heritage tourism initiatives and Haywards own corporate social investment arm Celia in Africa is what underpins the mobile safari, while maintaining a sustainable tourism business offering for the international market.
“Each safari event or expedition in South Africa, or in any of the other country destinations we visit is backed by our five star grading imperative which provides a real partnership for quality and one that unlocks business growth and contributes in growing South Africa as a competitive global destination,” confirms Hayward.
Put on your pith helmet and get set to safari – and if you don’t have one, Haywards has one for you so you can immerse yourself in your once-in-a-lifetime romantic Out of Africa style safari escape.
About the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa:
The TGCSA was established in 2002 and operates as a business unit of South African Tourism and is the only officially recognised quality assurance body for tourism products in South Africa. Visit www tourismgrading.co.za for more.
About Haywards Grand Safari Company:
Hayward’s Grand Safari Company provides private groups of 40 to 200 VIP guests with an authentic 5-star mobile tented safari camp experience in pristine wilderness reserves across the African continent. Each bespoke luxury camp guarantees clients total event exclusivity and superior guest comfort.
Rated as the only 5-star mobile Safari in Africa, hosts Peter Hayward and Celia du Preez, are appointed by leading multinational blue-chip companies, royal contingents, presidents and renown celebrities alike for their award-winning brand launches, internationally acclaimed celebrations, weddings and superior conferences and events, ensuring Hayward’s remains the epitome in authentic, Out of Africa style and luxury.
With headquarters based on a 2 500-acre private game reserve north East of Pretoria in the all new Dinokeng Region of the Gauteng Province South Africa, Hayward’s have been creating once-in-a-lifetime memories for global clients for well over 20 years.
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