I am a nature lover. I would instantaneously trade malling or watching TV series with nature trips. This was exactly what happened last Wednesday, November 09, 2016. After dinner, thechinitowanderer, who is a flatmate, were discussing plans for the weekend. I really wanted to window shop or splurge on food. I also felt the need to undergo another session for green therapy because the workplace had been an energy and time draining ground in the past few weeks. My heart actually preferred the former but when my phone beeped, there was an instant change of plans. The beep was a message from our good friend Ace Galleta, who is also a certified traveler, inviting us to join him in his second “sponsored” visit to Nofa Farm & Resort.
The Nofa Farm and Resorts (Nofa Resorts for short), at present, is a destination that almost every expat in the kingdom as well as the entire Arab world would want to set foot on. It is privately owned by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Mohd bin Saud Al Kabeer up to this time, but rumor has it that Radisson Blu – Riyadh will soon take complete possession of the place. Prince Al Kabeer is also the founder and owner of the largest dairy foods company in the Middle East: Almarai Company.
Then Friday morning came. Ace fetched us at exactly 5:30 AM in Al Izdihar―just in time for the sun to peek in my bedroom window. The sun’s rays sent a glossy silver sheen all around the room, blending with the dull cream paint and hanged t-shirts and long sleeves slightly wavering in the Arabian winter breeze. I wore my backpack and ran to my flatmate’s room who was also all ready to zoom off .
A few minutes later we headed straight to Hyper Panda along King Fahad Road in Takhassusi to meet with the rest of Ace’s friends and co-members of Pinoy Netters Club – Riyadh Chapter. At 7:20 AM, we were already on the long and winding Makkah Highway bound for Nofa Farm & Resort in the town of Al Nemar, Riyadh Province. We completed approximately two hours (84 km) for this journey.
The sunshine was all over the map by the time we alighted from the vehicles.
The Nofa Resorts is like a town of mini gardens, out of which interminable supply of fresh air, based on the views we were able to see from the threshold and on our way to its golf course, equestrian centre, tennis courts, residential estates, and stables―our penultimate stops. The ultimate would be the Safari Park.
Since we were in a group of tennis players and the idea of the visit was actually a one-day tournament, we settled at the tennis court, which is nestled in a large expanse of grasslands and partially divided by either date palms or woody perennial trees.
Side trips for guests of the guests, us, are just byproducts.
Adjacent to it are the equestrian centre and golf resort whose joint forces make for a stunning Western countryside landscape during spring.
As for us, “guests of the original guests of a private member”, who are not really in love with tennis, we resorted to feasting on its breathtaking surroundings after gorging our sacs with some food and, subsequently, watching three matches. Any player in a tournament needs support.
The heavy food in our stomachs was what compelled us to go for a stroll a little bit later. That was supposed to be just me and Onel, the chinitowanderer, but Ace is naturally a hospitable “guest-host” that he had to leave the tournament for a tour guide’s role―our tour guide.
With the weather getting colder and colder here in the Middle East, a lot of people opt to stay indoors. But for born wanderers like us, the first we think about is going for stroll at a place that is as awesome as this.
How could you say no to the crunchy green leaves gracing the trees, the equally crispy grassland, the gleaming blue skies, the birds heralding winter, and the stables discharging an exquisite Western countryside vibe. Together, they define some of the most spectacular views of nature at its finest.
According to the website ”globetrotting.com”, this luxury private members’ club has an estimated value of $80,000,213.45 (SAR 300,000,000). It is a combination of Equestrian Centre (Nofa Farm) and African Theme Resort (Nofa Resort). It shelters one of the largest equestrian facilities in the world and is only a few years old.
The nourishing cool feel and vista of the greenery of sprawling grasslands are the standouts for me. But we got to that part of the resort where we saw a nipa hut solely protruding on top of a hill, things slightly changed. We all got totally enamored of the Philippine vibe it projected.
It was an opportune time for our tired feet. We only became aware of the time when we decided to take a rest in the inviting hut. We did not know we had been leisurely roaming around for 45 minutes.
We were all the more disarmed by the pulchritude of the place when we took a rest inside the nipa hut. The views atop are exhilarating.
We now completely understand why Nofa Resorts is aesthetically described as a private oasis of tranquility and restful retreat.
We all suddenly felt home while we were all comfortably settled in our respective spots inside the hut, simultaneous with savoring―and later photographing―the irresistible nature views from that vantage point.
Being able to feel you are one with nature has no exact words to describe it. We, again, forgot to check our watches that it took us almost an hour before we remembered the wildlife safari schedule. Nature has a mysterious way of making us forget time. We then rushed back to the court hoping we could still make it to the wildlife safari but to no avail. Apparently, we were already an hour late and we are no VIPs; the truck left on time.
But Ace is Ace. He did not give up. He went straight to Sir Ogie, a senior member of Pinoy Netters Club and the major sponsor of this visit. First, he requested to organize a repeat of the safari experience; the request was not granted. He pleaded and was denied. He gave up. No. The sponsor had to eventually bend to his will by offering a proposition: that we will visit the safari but on the condition that we will only be able to view the animals through the gates via a 4×4. And, that would be four hours after lunchtime (5:00 PM).
The first thing that we had to worry about upon learning that was where to spend the next four hours other than the court. It was a bit of a puzzle until the winter zehpyr slapped our bodies and all our heads turned to a viriscent boscage that was then right in front of us obscuring the view on the other side of the court. Things became less complicated when we all realized that relishing the simple nature wonders around is the best thing to do. As white collar workers, this is the perfect time to really slow down.
At this very moment, I must say that ultimate bonding with nature made us all feel restored. It is always a pleasure promoting the benefits of undergoing a green therapy every now and then as well as sharing the beauty of nature here on the blog. People around the world gravitate to images of nature regardless of culture. We have an inborn affiliation for nature; therefore, we cannot resist views of the natural world, even the ordinary ones.
The long hours of conversation soon made our backs demand for crunches; we had to give in. After a few crunches and stretches, we took a lot of usies. Nature made our bonds stronger. The ground where we spent the long hours at somehow became our green gym. The engaging long talks, relishing of the natural views around, and feeling the gentle afternoon breeze complemented our green exercises. It feels extra special to be with people who appreciate and value nature the way I do.
For me, what happened during that four hours was, by far, became one of the best winter afternoons. The Nofa Resorts (location map here) is indeed a private oasis of tranquility and restful retreat.
Thank you very much, Ace and to your sponsors from Pinoy Netters Club, for sharing with us the privilege to set foot on this wonderland!
The 14 Most Beautiful Places In The Middle East (theculturetrip.com)
The 7 Safest Places to Travel in the Middle East (escapehere.com)