5 Reasons the Franschhoek Wine Tram Needs to be on your Cape Town Bucket List

Franschhoek is a gorgeous valley tucked away in the heart of the Cape Winelands. This stunning region is a world-famous wine and cuisine destination. Dream up picturesque vineyards, award-winning wines, and a quaint, bustling town surrounded by dramatic mountain ranges - this is Franschhoek!

Franschhoek

Whether you are a local or a visitor to Cape Town, a trip to Franschhoek and the Cape Winelands at large is a must! There are hundreds of inviting wine farms and wine estates, just waiting to be explored and enjoyed! No matter the season or weather, you can’t go wrong spending a day indulging in a wine tasting or two - South Africa is famous for its wine after all!

The best way to discover the delights of the Franschhoek wine valley is the Franschhoek Wine Tram. The Wine Tram transports you between wine farms in a relaxed and scenic way. All you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! Find out more about the Wine Tram below.


Here at 5 reasons that a day trip on the Franschhoek Wine Tram should definitely be on your Cape Town Bucket List:


1. It’s a unique (and fun!) way to see the wine farms in the area

With so much to see and experience, it can feel almost overwhelming deciding where to start! The Franschhoek Wine Tram is a convenient way to see a number of wine destinations in one day.

How it works: The tram is a hop-on-hop-off design comprising of different modes of transport including the iconic double-decker tram, open-air busses and even a tractor or two! There are a number of different lines (named after different colours) that include a variety of wine farms. Pick the line of your choice, book your ticket, hop aboard and you’re ready to go!

En route, you’ll travel past vineyards and picturesque suburbs; making stops at wonderful wineries along the way.

The Franschhoek Wine Tram is a great activity for family and friends! It’s also fantastic for celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, pre-wedding festivities and even end of year functions! Just be sure to book ahead at the wine farms if your group has large numbers and you are hoping to enjoy a lunch or specific wine tasting activity.

The Franschhoek Wine Tram

2. There are a number of award-winning wine farms included on various routes

The Wine Tram visits some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates including Grand Provence, Allée Bleue, Maison, Babylonstoren and much, much more!

The routes include large cellars with organised tastings and tours, well-established wine favourites that enjoy a steady stream of visitors, and smaller, boutique wineries that offer unique curated experiences. Wine enthusiasts of all kinds are sure to find a route and wines that will pique their interests; from robust reds and refreshing whites to South African-grown pinotage and bottles of bubbly Method Cap Classique.

There are currently two dozen destinations covered in total by the Wine Tram, and each has a variety of activities on offer - more on that below!

Wine Tram destinations

3. You can pick the route that best suits your needs and interests

There are eight different lines (Purple, Orange, Pink, Grey, Blue, Green, Yellow and Red) that visit 24 different wine destinations. Each line includes eight wine farms and you should be able to visit six of them during the course of your trip.

The experience is designed to allow you to curate the day around your preferences! Are you looking to sample award-winning wines? Choose a line heaving with must-see wineries. After a delicious meal? Pick a spot home to a great restaurant in a gorgeous setting. Seeking stunning scenery? Do some research and choose wine farms that ooze views! Want to see a painting pig? You can do that too! (Visit Pigcasso’s home base, included on the Blue and Green lines).

You are free to spend as much time as you like at each stop; transport will arrive and depart every hour and your onboard guide will share the next pick-up time with you at each stop.

There are several ways to enjoy the tram: the hop-on-hop-off experience which is most popular, the cuisine experience, the exclusive wine & cuisine experience and the group experience for groups of 20 or more people.

Exclusive wine & cuisine

4. You can make it a full-day experience, including lunch and dinner afterwards

The wine tram runs from mid-morning with the last trams back to the main depot departing wine farms at around 5.45 pm. This gives you the whole day to explore as you wish!

Why not complement your wine tasting with some gourmet dishes? Include a fine dining lunch at one of Franschhoek’s award-wining wine farm-based restaurants. You could even keep it more casual and find a scenic wine farm at lunchtime and order some divine meat and cheese platters! Most wine farms offer some sort of food - be sure to check the information cards provided by the Franschhoek Wine Tram for more details.

Afterwards, find a gorgeous spot in town for dinner at one of Franschhoek’s gourmet restaurants. After all, Franschhoek is known as the Wine & Gourmet Capital of South Africa so you can’t leave without sampling something tasty!

Franschhoek’s gourmet restaurants

5. It’s safe and affordable!

The best thing about the wine tram is that it safely transports you between several farms and the centre of Franschhoek throughout the day. No need to worry about designated drivers or organising transport from destination to the destination!

If you are staying closer to Cape Town, you can drive through to Franschhoek on the day and park your car at the central terminal (just be sure that there is a designated driver for the return trip home unless you are staying in town and are situated within walking distance of your accommodation). Alternatively, transfer services are available from the Cape Town area through to Franschhoek. With an organised transfer, you can enjoy yourself with peace of mind!

Another great feature of the Wine Tram experience is that it is really affordable for what you get! Hop-on hop-off tickers begin from R270*. Your ticket covers your transport between the farms on your chosen line as well as fascinating narration on the Franschhoek Valley and the region’s winemaking history from an onboard guide! Once you arrive at your chosen wine farms, you can partake in the activities of your choice. Convenient, safe and perfect to suit a range of budgets - we like the sound of that!

*Prices correct at time of publication

Affordable Wine Tram

Have you enjoyed a trip on the Franschhoek Wine Tram yet? What are you waiting for! Go out and explore the wine farms and enjoy the scenery of this beautiful region of the Cape Winelands.

Celebrate the start of summer with dk villas favourite cocktail recipes!

Welcome to November! Can you believe we have almost reached the end of 2021? The festive season is nearly upon us and the summer season has arrived in Cape Town. We are ready to celebrate the arrival of the warmer weather in style! Summer brings long, hot days and sunsets to write home about. This is the perfect excuse to enjoy a refreshing cocktail or two!

To help get you into the summer spirit, we have put together a list of our 10 favourite summer cocktails along with recipes to go with each. We’ve included classics along with a few South African themed cocktails. No alcohol? No problem! There are some non-alcoholic additions to the list that are sure to have your mouth watering.

Cocktails

These cocktails can be easily made at home with a few ingredients you might already have on hand! They could also be enjoyed from the comfort of one of our beautiful properties; enjoy the views with a refreshing drink in hand on your next visit!

Set the scene for summer in Cape Town with 10 of our favourite recipes that you can easily whip up at home:


Classic summer cocktails:


1. Mojito

This Cuban cocktail classic is simple yet superb! A mojito is a mix of white run, mint, lime, club soda and sugar. It’s a tasty sweet and citrusy mic that has long been a popular summer drink.

Recipe:

Ingredients
● Juice of 1 lime
● 1 tsp granulated sugar
● Small handful of mint leaves, plus extra sprig to serve
● 60ml white rum
● Soda water, to taste

Method
1. Mix together the lime juice, sugar and mint leaves in a small jug, crushing the mint as you go - you can use the end of a rolling pin for this. Pour the mixture into a tall glass. Add ice.
2. Next, pour the rum over the mixture and stir together. Add the club soda to top up the glass. Garnish with extra mint to serve it!

Mojito

2. Margarita

This Mexican mix is sure to be a crowd pleaser! Margaritas are all about summer and fun! You’ll find them on cocktail menus across the world. Make your own at home and enjoy this cocktail featuring tequila, orange liquor, fresh lime juice and salt. Top tip: you can also make a frozen version of this drink!

Recipe:

Ingredients
● 35ml tequila
● 20ml orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
● 35ml fresh lime juice
● Ice cubes
● Lime wedge, to garnish
● Salt, to garnish

Method
1. Pour the Tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Add a handful of ice cubes and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
2. Strain the mixture into a martini glass. Prepare the martini glass beforehand by dipping the rim and water and then salt.
3. Finish off with a lime wedge to garnish and enjoy!

Margarita

3. Aperol Spritz

A bitter, bubbly mixture of Aperol (which is an Italian bitter), prosecco and club soda come together to create an Aperol Spritz! This classic Italian cocktail has been around for over 100 years and has grown in popularity. It is usually enjoyed as a pre-dinner apertivo but you can sip on a refreshing Aperol spritz under the sunshine, at anytime of day!

Recipe:

Ingredients
● 100ml Aperol
● 150ml prosecco
● Club soda, to top up
● Ice
● Slice of orange to garnish

Method
1. Place ice cubes into a glass and add 50ml of Aperol. Pour in an equal amount of prosecco and then top up the glasses with club soda. Garnish with a slice of orange if you’d like and enjoy this refreshing cocktail!

Aperol Spritz

4. Tequila Sunrise

If it’s a drink that looks like summer you’re after, a tequila sunrise is it! The orange and yellow hues elicit feelings of warmer weather and beautiful sunshine! Tequila, orange juice and grenadine come together to create the tequila sunrise. Top tip: this drink is unmixed - this is how you get the distinct colours!

Recipe:

Ingredients
● 2 tsp grenadine
● 50ml tequila
● 1 tbsp triple sec
● 1 large orange, juiced or fresh orange juice
● ½ lemon, juiced
● 1 cocktail cherry
● Ice

Method
1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the tequila and orange juice. Shake vigourously
2. Add ice to a glass and carefully double strain the tequila and orange juice mix to the glass. Slowly add the grenadine to the glass by pouring over the back of a spoon or drizzling down the edge of the glass o it settles at the bottom. Top off with a cherry and mini cocktail umbrella!

Tequila Sunrise

5. Classic G&T

Simple, crisp and delicious! Gin and tonics are the perfect refreshing summer drink as you can customise them however you wish! You can keep it basic by mixing a gin of your choice with a simple tonic or jazz it up with flavoured gins, flavoured tonics and a variety of garnishes - think cucumber, berries, fresh herbs and more.

Recipe:

Ingredients
● Gin of your choice
● Tonic of your choice
● Ice
● Garnishes to your choosing

Method
1. The ratio of gin to tonic varies according to individual taste. Some people do half/half while others do one part gin to 2 parts tonic or even one shot of gin and top up your glass with your tonic!
2. Add ice to a glass, add your gin and top up with tonic. Finish off with your selection of garnishes. Be sure to get creative with seasonal summer toppings!

Classic G&T

6. Virgin Pina Colada Smoothie (non-alcoholic)

Imagine summertime, golden sand and a gorgeous sunset - a piña colada will compliment this vision superbly! Piña coladas are the quintessential beach cocktail making them perfect for summer. The virgin version of this cocktail features pineapple juice and coconut milk and comes together in a blender. Simple and delicious!

Recipe:

Ingredients
● 3 cups fresh pineapple plus extra to garnish
● 400ml coconut milk (unsweetened)
● 3/4 cups Agave sugar
● 6 - 7 cups ice

Method
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix together until is riches a smooth consistency (these amounts serve 7-8)
2. Garnish with fresh pineapple and a mini cocktail umbrella for the summer vibes!

Virgin Pina Colada Smoothie (non-alcoholic)

7. Frozen Berry and Mint Daquiri (non-alcoholic)

Bright, bold and refreshing! This tasty alcohol free daquiri cocktail is sure to get you into the swing of summer. Berries offer a sweet base while the mint gives you a great kick. Making it frozen makes it the best kind of refreshing summer drink!

Recipe:

Ingredients
● 250 ml berry juice
● 1 cup mixed berries = frozen
● 1 lime, juiced
● 1 cup ice - crushed
● Brown sugar
● Fresh berries
● Fresh mint

Method
1. Place the juice, frozen berries, lime juice, mint, sugar and ice into a blender.
2. Blend until smooth and pour into tall glasses.
3. Serve with a straw, garnished with fresh mint and berries.

Recipe by Zola Nene

Frozen Berry and Mint Daquiri

Summer cocktails with a South African twist:


8. Rooibos Tea Peach Punch

Rooibos tea is a South Africa staple, and this cocktail recipe features this iconic drink! Add some South African flavour to your summer days with a refreshing and fun rooibos tea peach punch. It’s quick and easy to put together and can be enjoyed minus the vodka too!

Recipe:

Ingredients
● 500 ml strong rooibos tea, cooled beforehand
● 500 ml peach juice
● +- 100ml vodka
● 1 lemon thinly sliced
● 2 peaches thinly sliced
● One handful fresh mint leaves

Method
1. Combine the above ingredients in a large jug and stir to combine.
2. Pour into glasses with ice, add garnishes to taste!

Recipe from Simply-delicious-food

Rooibos Tea Peach Punch

9. Ama-lekkerlicious

Back in 2011, Kurt Schlechter created this proudly South African cocktail for the FHM SA Brandy Competition which won the competition that year! A combination of brandy, bitters, peach syrup and cranberry juice combine to make this local and lekker summer cocktail.

Recipe:

Ingredients
● 25ml brandy
● 12.5ml peach syrup
● 50ml cranberry juice
● 1 bar spoon of lemon juice
● 3 dashes Angostura bitters
● Sherbet to garnish

Method
1. Muddle, shake and strain your ingredients.
2. Dip a whisky glass in sherbet so it coats the rim
3. Enjoy!

Recipe by Kurt Schlechter

Ama-lekkerlicious

10. The Fynbos

The fynbos is another local and lekker competition winner! In 2012, Eugene Thompson won the SA Brandy Competition with his “Fynbos” cocktail which features brandy, honey, rooibos, ginger and more!

Recipe:

Ingredients
● 50 ml Collisons brandy
● 1 teaspoon honey
● 12.5ml Butlers ginger
● 25 ml sugar syrup
● 50 ml rooibos tea

Method
1. Chill a martini glass; add rooibos tea, honey, ginger liquor, sugar syrup and brandy and shake.
2. Strain into martini glass; finish off with a lemon twist on the top.

Recipe by Eugene Thompson


Table Mountain

These cocktails are sure to get you in the mood for summer days! There is no better place to enjoy the season than in and around Cape Town - we hope to welcome you to a dk villas property soon!

dk villas Top 5 Reasons to Visit Hout Bay

It’s no secret that we love Hout Bay! This charming seaside neighbourhood is home to three dk villas properties: Harbour View Hout Bay, The Boardwalk Hout Bay and RivervieW Hout Bay. Hout Bay is full of views, charm and wonderful things to do!

The town of Hout Bay originated with the arrival of the Dutch settlers centuries ago and began as a settlement for the timber industry (Did you know that Hout Bay is named after the wood in the area which was used to build much of early Cape Town?). Today, the town is a popular travel destination in Cape Town, overflowing with charm and character!

Hout Bay Panorama

To celebrate this fantastic destination, we have put together a list of reasons to add Hout Bay to your travel wish list and make it your next holiday destination!


Top 5 reasons to visit Hout Bay:


1. The Location

You can’t discuss Hout Bay without talking about the views! Nestled on the Atlantic Seaboard and surrounded by impressive mountain ranges, Hout Bay boasts a stunning location. The golden beaches, deep blue waters and dramatic mountain drives are a photographer’s dream!

One of the most popular attractions in Hout Bay is Chapman’s Peak Drive and the viewpoints around the area. The road connects Hout Bay and Noordhoek and is a marvellous feat of engineering! Chapman’s Peak offers sweeping views of the town and the coastline. You’ll often see locals parking cars and tourists hopping off of the big red City Sightseeing busses to wander around the viewpoints and snap photos. Some of the most iconic images of Hout Bay include the majestic Sentinel peak at the western end of town.

Hout Bay Sunsets

If you don’t feel like doing the drive, you can park your car just before the road’s tollbooth and take a hike up to a wonderful picnic spot. Find out about more exciting Hout Bay hikes here.

While it’s surrounded by so much natural beauty, Hout Bay is also home to a working harbour which is fun to explore! (More on the restaurants, food and things to do around the harbour below).

One of the best things about visiting Hout Bat is that it is far enough away from the centre of town feel secluded, but is still a convenient distance to popular places like Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront and Camps Bay as well hotspots in the Southern Peninsula including Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Simon’s Town and the Constantia Wine Route. Gorgeous beaches such as Llandudno and Sandy Bay are also just around the corner! Sandy Bay is also a popular hike.

All in all, in our books, Hout Bay is one of the best locations in the Western Cape!

Chapmans Peak

2. The Outdoors

Hout Bay has no shortage of stunning outdoor spaces. Better yet, there is an abundance of fun outdoor activities to enjoy here! The beach is a great spot to soak up the sun and relax or embark on a stroll along the shoreline. Keen to take to the trails and go for walks, hikes or mountain biking? Hout Bay boasts a number of options. You can even go ziplining!

In the mood to explore the ocean? You’re in the right place! Go on a kayak adventure tour, enjoy a seal island cruise or even a seal snorkelling adventure!

Seal Island

3. Restaurants & Shopping

The food and shopping scene in Hout Bay is thriving! The town is home to quaint cafes, divine coffee shops, stunning seaside eateries and more!

Oh, and a few award-winning restaurants to boot! Perched above the town at Silvermist Wine Estate is La Colombe - a highly awarded restaurant that offers incredible gourmet cuisine! Closer to town is Massimo’s restaurant which was recently named the best pizzeria in Africa! Definitely a must-visit spot!

Massimo’s

Head to Dunes Beach Restaurant and the Lookout Deck for seafood right by the sea!
For the best fish and chips in town, visit the restaurant at Mariner’s Wharf or the unassuming Fish on the Rocks (this small eatery really packs a punch!). If you’re looking for something more exotic, try Cheyne’s for fusion tapas or venture out and enjoy a hearty Sunday Harvest lunch at the nearby Suikerbossie restaurant. For something sweet visit IceDream and taste authentic Italian gelato.

Several fantastic wine farms are dotted along Constantia Main Road and Hout Bay Main Road, including Beau Constantia, Eagle’s Nest and Constantia Glen. Closer to the centre of town is Hout Bay Vineyards which is a boutique wine cellar that opened in 2001.

Mariner’s Wharf is a great place to eat and shop! Enjoy the restaurants, fresh fish market and antique shop while surrounded by the unique maritime atmosphere.

Finally, Bay Harbour Market is one of the most popular destinations in Hout Bay! Here, you’ll find a number of tantalizing food vendors, artisanal stalls and live music! Take note it is only open from Friday to Sunday.

Fish and Chips

4. The Culture

Hout Bay truly feels like a holiday getaway thanks to the relaxed atmosphere and laid back vibe of the locals! It has earned the nickname “Republic of Hout Bay” thanks to the feeling of community.

Get to know more about Hout Bay’s history, culture and people on a walking tour with City Sightseeing. The Imizamu Yetho township tour is included on the Citysightseeing route and offers insight into local life in this vibrant township. It is guided by an expert local guide and includes a visit to the Original T-Bag Designs workshop.

Hout Bay Sunsets

5. It’s Family Friendly

Ultimately, one of the best things about Hout Bay is that it is family-friendly! Choose a restaurant that the whole family will love, visit the beach, go see the seals, set off on an easy yet beautiful hike, admire the views and snap some great family photos! More venues that are fun for the whole family include World of Birds - Africa’s largest bird park, a wildlife sanctuary and a monkey park. Clay Cafe is the perfect spot to let your creativity flow while the kids can paint and play!

Hout Bay Yoga

Need even more motivation to book a trip to Hout Bay soon? Take advantage of dk villas’ Cape Escape promotion and get 20% off all bookings! valid until 14 December 2021.

Hello Darling! dk villas top 7 reasons to visit Darling!

Nestled on the West Coast is the divine little town of Darling! While this picturesque town may be small, it is filled with many great things to see, do and experience. Located only one hour from Cape Town, Darling is a definite must-visit destination for locals and visitors alike!

Darling is a charming spot home to museums, galleries, restaurants, wine farms and more. It is also a centre for creativity, entertainment and performances! Darling hosts some of the Western
Cape’s most popular festivals, including Rocking the Daisies, and come spring, when the West Coast is blanketed in fields of flowers, you can enjoy the Spring Wildflower Festival here. This small town really packs a punch!

Darling

Here are 7 reasons to visit the charming town of Darling:


1. Evita se Perron

This colourful spot is the home base for a South African icon: Evita Bezuidenhout. Tannie Evita is the much loved alter ego of satirist Pieter Dirk Uys who performs in this unique theatre. The old Darling railway station was transformed into the theatre complex and the destination is also home to a restaurant, gallery, gardens and a museum which can’t be missed on a trip to the town! Try to catch a performance during your next visit.

Evita se Perron

2. Darling Sweet

If you have travelled and shopped around Cape Town or South Africa at large, you will most probably recognise the colourful wrappers and boxes that belong to Darling Sweet! This sweet company started in Darling in 2013 and produces old fashioned, handcrafted toffee in a variety of delicious flavours. Visit Darling Sweet located in Darling’s former General Dealer Store (previously called Retief se Winkel) which was originally built in 1900. Watch the toffees being created, sample a few sweets and browse some of the other sweet treats available for purchase. This is the perfect stop for anyone with a sweet tooth!

Darling Sweet

3. Darling Brew

Darling can boast about being home to Africa’s very first carbon-neutral brewery! Darling Brew was born in the town and embraces the concept of “slow beer”. Visit the Tasteroom to enjoy an exciting craft beer tasting while surrounded by the sights and sounds of the working brewery. Top off your tasting with a delicious meal; pick from menus inspired by and filled with local produce and flavours!

Darling Brew Tasteroom
Darling Beer

4. Wildflowers

The West Coast is famous for its wildflower season, and Darling is one of the best places to experience this wonderful time of year. The Darling Wildflower Show is an annual event that takes place during the third weekend of September - prime flower viewing time! There is a landscaped flower exhibition that represents the larger natural habitat around Darling that visitors can peruse and admire. Visit to view the flowers and enjoy the markets, food and fun that happen during the spring festival!

Miss the festival? Not to worry - you can see the flowers during wildflower season at a number of spots around Darling including Duckitt Orchid Nursery, Tienie Versveld Nature Reserve and you can also travel further out to the West Coast National Park.

Wildflowers

5. Darling Museum

When in Darling, be sure to spend an intriguing few hours in the Darling Museum! Located in the Darling Town Hall, the museum offers insight into the town’s past, the Darling lifestyle and its people. A visit to the museum feels like going back in time to the 18th century! There is even a section wholly dedicated to the art of butter-making complete with mixers and old-time machinery (the site was originally founded by the Darling Women’s Agricultural Association as a Butter Museum).

Make your visit even more exciting by taking on the Darling Mystery Trail! This mystery-solving activity is fun for the whole family and involves solving riddles, treasure hunting and even geocaching around the town. Pick up your map from the museum and get searching! It costs R35 per person and the whole walk around Darling takes about two hours.

Darling Museum

6. The great food and wine!

You’ll never go hungry or thirsty on a trip to Darling! The town is home to great restaurants, cafes, food shops and four fantastic wine farms.

Satisfy your taste buds at spots like the Marmalade Cat, The Flying Pig and the Chicory Cheese Café. Indulge in delicious olive tastings at Darling Olives and Het Bos Olives. Darling is home to wonderful wine farms which offer excellent wine, platters and/or restaurants on-site. Visit Ormonde Private Cellar, Groote Post, Darling Cellars and Cloof Wine Estate the next time you’re in Darling.

Wine

7. The town in general!

Many people will tell you Darling is like a fine wine - it’s best to sit back, relax and enjoy it! The town is bursting with energy and activity when it hosts various festivals and creative arts performances. However, the small-town atmosphere remains warm, welcoming and friendly year-round. In fact, one of the best things you can do is simply stroll around and enjoy the vibe!

There are also a number of great attractions nearby Darling that are worth a visit including the !Khwa ttu San Culture & Education Centre, the West Coast National Park and the West Coast Fossil Park. You’re sure to be captivated no matter where you go or what you choose to do in and around Darling!

Darling nights

If Darling wasn’t on your Cape Town and West Coast to-do list just yet, we are sure that it is now! Enjoy a road trip of your own, explore this quaint town and be sure to say “hello Darling!” when you visit!

All photos courtesy of Darling Tourism.

Celebrate Heritage Day with these proudly South African recipes

On Friday, 24 September 2021 it’s time to grab your flags, dress up in traditional cultural garb and get ready to celebrate Heritage Day! Heritage Day is a public holiday in South Africa. The country enjoys a day off work and Heritage Day allows us to celebrate the diverse cultures and traditions that come together to make up the beloved “Rainbow Nation”. On the day, many people across the country wear traditional clothing that displays their culture, listen to some South African tunes and get together to enjoy a braai and some good food!

South African Flag
Traditional Dress

To celebrate Heritage Day, we have put together a list of classic South African dishes along with some excellent recipes for you to try out.

If you are a local or have visited South Africa, you will know that food plays a huge part in our traditions, cultural practices and everyday life. It’s how we socialise, celebrate and come together as family and friends. A great shared meal can connect people from different races, religions and social backgrounds. South African cuisine is a fusion of influences; from Dutch and French flavours to the hearty dishes characteristic of India and Malaysia!

Around this time of year, you may see references to “National Braai Day”. In 2005, South Africans started celebrating Braai Day on Heritage Day as it was seen as a great way to bring people together. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the spokesperson for National Braai Day when it first launched as he loved the idea of togetherness! Today, we continue to throw some meat on the grill and enjoy a good ol’ braai!

Braai

Are you ready to create a few tasty South African classics of your own? Take a look at these 8 delicious South African recipes and get started:


1. Braai & Sides

A braai is a quintessentially South African way of eating! This iconic South African tradition translates across languages and cultures. You could enjoy “braaivleis” or “shisa nyama”. At a braai, meat is generally cooked over coals (similar to a barbeque). Boerewors (a long, wound up sausage made from beef mixed with lamb or pork and spices), lamb chops and steak are popular braai meat options! Learn more about becoming a “braai master” here!

Take your braai to the next level with some delicious sides! Samp and beans (soaked samp and sugar beans), chakalaka (a spicy vegetable and tomato relish) and pap (a ground miele meal similar to Italian polenta) are great sides for a braai). Try your own samp and beans and chakalaka at home with this recipe.

Poitjie

2. Vetkoek

Vetkoek, also known as amagwinya, are deep fried balls of deliciousness! The name translates to “fat cake” and the dish is dough that is deep fried and filled. You can enjoy them either sweet or savoury and apricot jam, chutney and mince are popular filling options. Make your own vetkoek using this recipe.

Vetkoek

3. Bobotie

This traditional Cape Malay dish is made using spiced mince meat (usually beef or lamb) and raisins topped with a savoury egg custard which is then baked. You could imagine it as being similar to a Greek moussaka. Make this dish at home and enjoy the enticing mix of sweet and curried flavours!

Bobotie

Photo courtesy of Olga Ernst


4. Bunny Chow

This intriguingly named meal started as a “travelling lunch” many years ago in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The province enjoys cultural Indian influences found in much of the food. A bunny chow is made using a half loaf of white bread that is hollowed out to become a “bread bowl” of sorts. It is then filled with curry (usually mutton) and enjoyed. There are a variety of stories about how the name came around, but whatever the origin, the tasty meal has stood the test of time and become a local favourite! Take a look at how to make your own version of a bunny chow.

Bunny Chow

Photo courtesy of Elsee de Villiers/Cape Town Tourism


5. Milktart/Melktert

This dessert is a South African favourite that is definitely for the sweet lovers! A milktart (called “melktert” in Afrikaans) is a sweet pie crust topped with a sweet custard-like filling complete with a hearty dusting of cinnamon. You can bake a delicious milktart at home or find one at a local South African bakery.

Milktart

Photo courtesy of Jon Mountjoy


6. Koeksisters and Koesisters

Koeksisters are a traditional Afrikaans dessert that are absolutely moreish! Dough is plaited, fried and drizzled with sweet syrup or honey. Similar to koeksisters are koesisters which are the Cape Malay version. These are dough balls that are fried and rolled in desiccated coconut.
Check out this recipe to make your own koeksisters or try out home-made koesisters.

Enjoy one and you’ll find yourself reaching for more!

Koeksisters

Photo courtesy of Gesant Abed/Cape Town Tourism

Foodie tip: Enjoy your milktart (and more desserts) with a cup of rooibos tea! Rooibos is a widely loved favourite in South Africa! It is a herbal tea that means “red bush” made of plants that grow in South Africa’s fynbos.


7. Malva Pudding

Malva pudding is the stuff dessert dreams are made of! This baked pudding is sweet and sticky with a sponge-like texture; it is crafted with apricot jam and covered in creamy sauce and served with custard or a dollop of ice cream. It is a sticky toffee-like pudding with Cape Dutch origins that is perfect to warm up with on cold evenings! Warm up with home-made malva pudding of your own.

malva-pudding

Photo courtesy of Charmaine Zoe


8. Amarula Don Pedro

While they may boast an exotic sounding name, the Don Pedro was created in South Africa! This dessert can be described as a “boozy milkshake” as it is a combination of sweet liqueur/hard tack such as whiskey, ice cream and cream. Amarula, Kahlua, amaretto and Frangelico are popular alcoholic additions! Sip through a straw and enjoy! Here’s how to make you own don pedro at home!

Amarula

By now your mouth should be watering! Make the most of the Heritage Day 2021 long weekend and whip up a few of these recipes at home. You are sure to feel proudly South African!

dk villas top tips for a West Coast National Park day trip

If you’re around Cape Town and on the lookout for a retreat into nature, a visit to the West Coast National Park is just the thing you need! Located just over an hour from Cape Town, the park is a beautiful reserve filled with indigenous flora and fauna, a stunning lagoon and incredible views.

Whether you are a local or a visitor, spending a day in the West Coast National Park should definitely be on your Cape Town bucket list. It is close enough to the city centre and surrounding towns that it is accessible for a day trip, but far enough away that you will feel truly transported.
It’s a versatile destination with an array of activities to keep visitors of all ages entertained.

Wondering when to visit, what to do when you’re there are more? Wonder no more! Below, we have put together a quick guide to planning a day trip to the West Coast National Park. Read through it and get ready to head out and explore!

West Coast National Park Daisies

How to plan a day trip to the West Coast National Park:


1. When to visit: Pick a date and time.

The annual flower season may be the biggest pull, but the West Coast National Park is lovely throughout the year! There is a range of activities available so choose the best time of year to enjoy whatever it is you would like to do.

For the flowers, generally visit between August and September when the flowers are in bloom. The best time to visit is generally over midday when the sun is at its highest. The flowers are at their best when the sun is shining so try and avoid visiting on an overcast day. The most popular flower viewing destination is the Postberg section of the park which is only open at certain times of the year. It’s worth the trek to the northern part of West Coast National Park to see the landscape blanketed in blooms! Do keep in mind that flower season is an incredibly popular time to visit so it could be a great idea to visit during the week or early on the weekends. Take a look at our guide to wildflower season in the Western Cape for more information!

If you’re keen to head to the Langebaan lagoon and try out some watersports, visit in the warmer months. For hiking, you can visit throughout the year just be sure to be prepared for all kinds of weather! Also, note that some hikes may need to be booked in advance. Find more details about West Coast National Park hikes here. Bird watching is best during summer and spring when migrating birds are around. While there is no big game in the reserve, you can see mammals like eland, zebra, red hartebeest, Cape grysbok, bat-eared fox, caracal and rock hyrax. In general, you can usually enjoy a decent amount of nature watching throughout the year here. You can also enjoy whale watching, usually between August and September.

Keep note that you will have to pay for entrance at the gate. Costs change depending on the time of year. During flower season it is R94 per adult and R47 per child for South African residents. Outside of flower season, it is R66 per adult and R33 per child for South Africans. Full rates information for international visitors is available on the SANParks website.

West Coast National Park Entrance

2. What to do: Decide on the activities you would like to enjoy!

Nature viewing and bird watching
Spending an hour or two viewing the resident animals and birdlife is a must-do! The park is home to 300+ species of birds and there are four bird-hides in the park (well signposted and illustrated in a map that each visitor will receive at the entrance gate). As you drive through the park, keep an eye out for bigger mammals grazing in the grasslands. You may even come across a tortoise or two crossing the road!

During August and September, make a stop at one of the viewpoints along the Atlantic seaboard to see if you can spot any Southern-right whales swimming past the shore.

Have a beach day
Langebaan Lagoon is the focal point of the park. Visit and enjoy a leisurely day on the sand, paddle in the shallows or head into the water for some fun! Watersports like windsurfing, snorkeling, wakeboarding, water-skiing, kayaking and kitesurfing can be enjoyed at West Coast National Park.

Flower season
“Going to see the flowers” is one of the most popular activities along the West Coast! The national park is home to Postberg. This section of the park is only open between August and September and is one of the best places to see the flowers in the Western Cape!

West Coast flowers

Enjoy a picnic or braai
There are a number of spots to enjoy a delicious picnic or braai. Kraalbaai’s beach is a fantastic setting for a picnic or braai while Tsaarsbank offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Take a hike or go mountain biking
West Coast National Park is home to a number of scenic hikes that range from short walks to 2day hikes. Choose from Geelbek short day walks, Eve’s Trail, Postberg hiking trails, Bakoor Trail, Strandveld Trail, and Steenbok One Day Trail (only open in August and September).

For more fun outdoors - grab a bike and get cycling! Cycling and mountain biking routes begin from the Langebaan gate and the dirt trails are well marked. E-biking is another great way to see the reserve!

More activities to enjoy in the park include a visit to “Eve’s Footprints” at the Geelbek Visitor’s Centre, enjoying a meal at Geelbek Restaurant and the short hike to Seeberg Viewpoint for sweeping views of the park.

Seeberg Viewpoint

3. Plan your time in the park

The West Coast National Park is a big place! It can take a fair bit of time to drive around as you need to stick to the speed limits. Keep this in mind when planning your time in the park and be sure you don’t lose out on time enjoying your chosen activity.

In general, the drive from the West Coast Gate and the Langebaan Gate to Kraalbaai, Tsaarbank and the entrance to Postberg will take about an hour. Thankfully the drive is filled with gorgeous views that you can appreciate as you amble along!


4. Decide what to pack for your day trip

Be smart and think ahead. If you are enjoying a day on the sandy shores of the lagoon and in the water, pack swimwear, towels, sun protection and water. If you are driving around the park nature watching, be sure to pack water and snacks for the car to keep you going!

For braais and picnics, you’ll need the food you would like to cook, drinks, charcoal, crockery and cutlery. Also, don’t forget to nominate a braai master beforehand! Be sure to clean up after your group - leave nothing but footprints!

West Coast Ocean

5. Choose whether to spend the whole day in the park or explore the towns nearby

Langebaan is just north of the West Coast National Park and is home to beautiful beaches and great restaurants. Paternoster is about 40minutes from the park and is a charming seaside village. If you are coming from further up the coast, a trip to Blouberg or even Cape Town could be a great option for a lovely late lunch or early dinner to top off your day!


6. Don’t forget your camera!

Seriously! The Western Cape is home to a multitude of incredibly beautiful destinations and the West Coast National Park is no exception! Make sure your phone/camera is charged or, if you’re doing it the old school way, that your camera has batteries and film.

On that note, don’t spend all of your time in the park stuck behind a camera. Make sure you take many moments to appreciate the beauty of the nature that we are so lucky to have nearby!

West Coast Proteas

Now you should be more than ready to enjoy a fantastic day trip to the West Coast National Park - happy travels!

Let’s celebrate! dk villas turns 3 years old!

There were celebrations all around on 15 August 2021 as dk villas officially turned three years old! Launched in 2018, Johann de Kock runs this dynamic business and, in her downtime, his wife Petra is around to assist with their passion project. Today, they are proud to offer people incredible getaways that feel like a “home away from home” in four incredible properties located across Hout Bay and Dwarskersbos.

Johann de Kock
Petra and Johann de Kock

In honour of this birthday milestone, Johann and Petra sat down to answer a few questions about the dk villas journey. And what a journey it has been! Both Johann and Petra have 25 years-worth of experience working in the travel and tourism industry, and have lived in Hout Bay for over 24 years. Opening up holiday accommodation in their quirky seaside hometown felt like a natural move, and that’s exactly what they did! Harbour View in Hout Bay was dk villa’s very first property (while Johann and Petra had owned their Dwarskersbos location for several years, this was converted into a dk villas property at a later stage). In the following years they added The Boardwalk and Riverview, both in Hout Bay, and Skilliepark Dwarskersbos on the West Coast.

RivervieW

As the dk villas portfolio has expanded, important things have remained the same; Johann and Petra choose to operate it as a family business and know that it's the special, little things that make all the difference! “Here, things are done the old fashioned way,” say Johann and Petra, “We love to engage with our guests (as much or as little as they like) and we ensure there are many personal touches.” This all comes together to make a dk villas stay exceptionally memorable!

Take a look at the Q&A below with Petra and Johann to find out more about where dk villas has come from, some of the biggest achievements along the way as well as advice for anyone who is keen to follow a similar path in the hospitality industry!


1. Why did you decide to get involved in the hospitality industry?

We both have a background in the aviation/travel industry, and when we decided that it was time to seek the independence of being self employed, it was natural that we looked at opportunities and options within the overall travel sector. Launching one’s own airline is a rather expensive exercise (wildly expensive in fact), so we kept our feet solidly rooted to the ground and dk villas was born!


2. Why did you choose Hout Bay and the West Coast as locations? In your mind, what makes these places special and worth visiting?

We have lived in Hout Bay for nearly 25 years, so this is home, it is what we know. It is where we feel very comfortable in being able to offer our guests any input and information, as well as, if required, guiding first-time visitors to Cape Town to the many sights and attractions the city has to offer. Our units all contain a copy of our own specially created “dk villas Guest Guide” which is a publication that offers a handy summary of many of the options available to visitors, or those on business trips with some leisure time available to them.

As mentioned above, we had owned the unit in Dwarskersbos for quite some time before the launch of dk villas, so it was natural that this became our West Coast dk villas unit. Having said that, we love Dwarskersbos so much, that having allocated our unit to now be a part of the dk villas portfolio of luxury holiday accommodation, we acquired another unit for ourselves in the same complex! We spend many of our weekends there, savouring the luxurious tranquility of the beautiful and rugged West Coast.

Dwarskersbos

3. What has been your proudest achievement over the years?

It’s not easy to define one single specific event. Looking at our growth over the past three years, we feel that just being a part of the dynamic South African Tourism market, serving both domestic and international visitors, and receiving such incredibly positive reviews and feedback is in itself an ongoing “award” that we value and treasure.


4. What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome, and how did you manage that?

Like most elements of the economy, and almost all elements of the tourism and hospitality industry, the impact of the COVID pandemic, with its restrictions and limiting of international travel, and periodically domestic travel too, has without question been the greatest challenge we have faced. In terms of dealing with this, one has to ensure that regardless of the loss of a huge percentage of our regular market, our standards and service remain at their superlative levels. Despite lockdown and other restrictions on travel, we also ensure that we maintain our presence in the market through regular social media posts, and keeping our website active, alive and informative!

Hout Bay Holiday
Hout Bay View

5. What advice do you have for people looking to follow a similar path and start their own business?

As Nike once said…. “Just do it !” But make sure that you do it with thought, research and planning. Opening a guest house or similar is not just a case of buying a property, putting some furniture in it, placing a few ads and crossing your fingers. It takes a tremendous amount of planning and hard work to make it “special”. It needs to be a place that will stand out in a very crowded and competitive market.

It is important to “connect” well with your guests, both on their arrival and departure – one would always want to see a happy guest return the next year on holiday, or when they are next here on business. Continuity is great! At whatever level one creates a place of accommodation, whether a tiny budget flat or a 20 bedroom luxury mansion, make it special so that your guests will always feel that whatever price level they are able to book at, they are receiving exceptional value for their money.

Most of all, enjoy being a part of the travel and tourism market. It is one of the greatest industries in the world to be a part of!

Johann and Petra

It’s been an exciting three years and things look set to go from strength to strength! In honour of dk villas celebrations, why not celebrate your next birthday in one of these beautiful locations? Take a look at the accommodation options and start planning your next visit!

Blooming wonderful! A guide to the wildflower season in the Western Cape


“With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy?”
- Oscar Wilde

Flower season is one of our favorite times of year in the Western Cape. Following the chilly winter months, the West Coast bursts into bloom with the promise of spring and warm summer days!

Flower Season

Between August and September, landscapes come alive in splashes of colour. Untamed wildflowers carpet nature reserves along the West Coast and these aren’t just your regular bunches of blossoms. The wildflowers are something different; expect fields of colourful, dainty blooms in picturesque locations. As many people will know, Cape Town and its surroundings offer almost too many wonderful events, seasons and activities to enjoy! With so much available, we can confirm that travelling to see the wildflowers is definitely a must-do experience for any visitor to (or resident of) the Western Cape!

The flowers signal the upcoming arrival of spring. South African National Parks recently announced that the West Coast Flower Season officially opens now, in the second week of August 2021! This year’s good rains in the Western Cape are set to make for a truly spectacular flower-viewing season! It's definitely time to get excited and start planning your flower viewing trip! To make it even easier to do, we have put together a handy guide on flower season in the Western Cape; including when to go, where to go and the best way to plan a flower-viewing trip.

Flower-viewing trip

Here is dk villas quick guide to the wildflower season:


When to see the flowers:

Wildflower season takes place annually between August and September. Keep in mind that exact dates may vary as this is mother nature after all! The flower season depends on the year’s rainfall. On average, the best time to see the flowers is between mid-August and mid September when the flowers usually reach their peak.

When deciding what time of day to enjoy a flower-viewing adventure, keep note that the flowers bloom under the sun. This makes avoiding cloudy, overcast days a good idea. The flowers are at their best when the sun is high in the sky; in general, it’s best to aim for anytime between 10.30am and 3.30pm.

This time of year is also a lovely time to visit Cape Town and surrounds as the first hints of spring are in the air but the city is still in its quiet season.

When to see the flowers

Where to see the flowers:

The big question! There are a number of fantastic spots to enjoy flower-viewing.

Postberg in the West Coast National Park is one of the most popular wildflower-viewing destinations in the Cape! The Postberg section of the park is open from 1 August - 30 September specifically for flower viewing. It is open from 9am - 5pm daily (slightly different to the West Coast National Park’s normal opening hours). West Coast National Park entrance details: For a South African adult (with ID) R94 per person, child R47. SADC adult (with passport) R144, child R72. International visitors adult R210, child R105.

Other great spots include Blaauwberg Nature Reserve where you can see the flowers and enjoy views of two World Heritage Sites - Table Mountain and Robben Island. The Darling Renosterveld Reserve, Paternoster and the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve are also great flower-viewing options.

Where to see the flowers

There are several events that take place across the west coast at this time of year including the Darling Wildflower Show which takes place in the third weekend of September (unfortunately 2021’s event has been cancelled due to Covid 19) and boasts wildflower exhibitions and colourful markets! The Hopefield Fynbos Show, taking place at the end of August, is a large community event dedicated to promoting the conservation of the area's fynbos diversity zones.

Another excellent series of events to discover is the Bergrivier Flower Affair. Enjoy the rugged scenery of the Bergrivier area which is about a two hours drive from Cape Town. From long stretches of white sandy beaches and quaint seaside villages, to wheatfields, fynbos and mountain peaks. At this time of year you’ll also be treated to views of the flowers and festivities in towns like Goedverwacht, Aurora and Redelinghuys!

Redelinghuys

What is the best way to plan a trip to see the wildflowers?

You can enjoy the flower season in a number of ways. Make it a longer trip and stay somewhere on the West Coast for a few nights, attend an event or make it a day trip if you are based in Cape Town and don’t have much time. Take your pick of what works best for you - pun intended!

Did you know? Our cosy cottage property in Dwaskerbos is a great base from which to explore the West Coast!

cosy cottage property in Dwaskerbos

Now you should be set to have a blooming wonderful time! Get ready to enjoy the untamed beauty of the wildflowers. Use these tips to plan your trip to see the stunning flower scenery at one of the incredible spots along the west coast.

French Flair in Hout Bay

Heading to the quirky seaside hamlet of Hout Bay for a romantic getaway, or for some pampering ‘me time’? A stay at the impeccably appointed dk villas RivervieW, offers sumptuous serenity in a secure environment, just a five-minute walk from the Hout Bay seafront. Bursting with French flair, and featuring only the best appliances, Egyptian cotton linen, and décor, this delightful one-bedroomed apartment will capture your heart as soon as you walk through the door. RivervieW is yet another jewel in the dk villas crown, and offers a sunny living space and a gorgeous balcony that is framed by bougainvillaea. Whether you choose to while away a lazy weekend in pure luxury, or use it as a home-from-home base to explore the beauty of the surrounding area, RivervieW is the perfect couple’s escape. For more information, or to book your stay, visit www.dkvillas.co.za/riverview.

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