Celebrating Women’s Month with the Boss Ladies of DK Villas

Women’s month is upon us! But since we can’t throw an extravagant dinner party or even give a round of hugs to the women behind the magic at dk villas, we’d like to proudly declare our appreciation for all the hard work, creativity, devotion, and ingenuity they so tirelessly channel into our happy family business. And so, during the month of August, in which we celebrate the fierce awesomeness of the women in our lives, we’d like to thank each and every one of the following boss ladies….

Here’s to the women of dk villas!


Petra de Kock

Owner, co-founder dk villas

Petra de Kock is one half of the brains, the brawn, and beauty behind the family business dk villas (where “corporate” isn’t part of the furniture). While her nineto-five is AMC Duty Manager at Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), she harbors an ardent passion for interior design and travel, the former of which she has exercised in the furnishing and decorating of every dk villa property.

Originally from Durban, Petra is a first generation South African born to German parents and has been living in Hout Bay since 1997, where her and husband Johann (the other half of dk villas) have two gorgeous rental properties and a third in Dwarskersbos. Not only is Petra a true design visionary but she is a generous, kind, and exceptionally brave soul. To know her is to love her and to work with her, a rare privilege indeed!


Thea Beckman

Blog and website writer

Thea Beckman

Thea Beckman is a passionate writer with over a decade’s experience in wordsmithery. She began her writing career quite by accident in 2010, when she moved to Thailand for a little adventure. Instead of teaching, she found a job as a freelance writer and what began as a way to fund her travels ended up as a career and a calling. Today, Thea is the self-published author of the book “Why? Because Science!”, a respected blogger, magazine journalist, and freelance writer.

Thea joined the dk villas family in 2019 when she stayed at the Dwarskersbos beach cottage on assignment as a travel writer for lifestyle magazine, Southern Vines. Johann and Petra were so delighted by the editorial she wrote about their property that they asked her to become the blogger for dk villas. Naturally, she said—“yes” and the rest is history.


Lauren Ashman

Social media maven and graphic designer

Lauren Ashman

Lauren Ashman is a born-and-bred Capetonian who, in spite of having lived here her whole life, is still surprised by the Mother City’s sublime beauty. Being involved in the digital space and User Experience Design is a passion of Lauren’s that she feels lucky enough to call her job. Lauren handles all of dk villas’ social media (Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn) and she does fabulous work, is superlatively creative, and gives the brand excellent marketing coverage.

Outside of working hours, you will always find Lauren outside. She is a a nature lover at heart and always tries to get outdoors or break away as much as humanly possible, even when it's freezing. She is also greatly intrigued by unsolved mysteries and the unexplained, and fully intends to come back as a paranormal investigator in her next life!


Tina van der Mescht

dk villas hostess in Dwarskersbos (on left)

Tina van der Mescht

Tina van der Mescht is the “hostess with the mostest” at dk villas’ beach cottage, which is located at Skilliepark in Dwarskersbos, up the gorgeous and pristine West Coast. She not only keeps a tight rein on the property—ensuring that it is exceptionally well cared for, cleaned, and ready for every guest—but she is also the friendly and welcoming face that guests first see upon arrival.

Tina lives in the gorgeous little holiday town of Dwarskersbos with her husband Juan (who is also coincidentlly a handiman, which is a great convenience for when anything needs fixing in our beach cottage). Tina has two beautiful children (one pictured above with her) and describes herself as a very family-orientated person.


Nontembiso Gloria Ncayapi

Housekeeper at dk villas, The Boardwalk and Harbour View

Nontembiso Gloria Ncayapi

Nontembiso Gloria Ncayapi, our gem, has been with us as housekeeper for six years (since January 2014) keeping dk villas’ two Hout Bay properties in beautiful shape for our guests to enjoy. One of the things we love the most about Gloria is the amount of pride she takes in her work, describing The Boardwalk and Harbour View properties as “her dk villas”, and refusing to let anyone else touch them.

Gloria comes from Victoria West, a small town in the central Karoo, Northern Cape. She now lives in Khayalitsha and travels every day to Hout Bay to work. She has two children: a 23-year old boy and a 16-year old girl.


Michelle Boois

Housekeeper at dk villas, Dwarskersbosch beach cottage

Michelle Boois is the housekeeper for dk villas’ beach cottage in Dwarskersbos and the newest member of the dk villas family, having only come on board two weeks before the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa. Before that, she worked for the Laaiplek Hotel in Velddrif.

Michelle does a wonderful job maintaining the impeccable standards we promise our guests. She is also the proud mother of six children, so when she’s not doing an amazing job as dk villas housekeeper, she is hard at work raising her children.


Happy Women’s Day 2020!

Here’s to strong women: may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them!

DK Villas’ Favourite Red Wines for Winter

Is there anything better (and more romantic) than whiling away a wintry evening in the Cape with a big glass of beautiful local red wine in front of the fire? Hardly! And with winter in full swing—the north-westerly winds bringing rain and plummeting temperatures from the Antarctic—we could all use a little warming of the cockles! Here are dk villas’ favourite red wines from the Cape’s highly esteemed cellars and wine routes….


Roodeberg Red 2018

www.KWV.co.za

Roodeberg Red 2018

Tasting notes: Roodeberg has been a part of the fibre of the South African wine culture since 1949, making it one of the country’s iconic wines.The Roodeberg Red—a classic blend of a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot—shows aromatic layers of fresh red fruit, cassis, and pencil shavings with undertones of tobacco and dark chocolate.The palate is beautifully layered and soft with nuances of cedar oak and dark plums, extending to a lingering finish.

Cost: R121, available from www.wine.co.za


La Motte Pierneef Collection Syrah Viognier

www.La-Motte.co.za

La Motte Pierneef Collection Syrah Viognier

Tasting notes: This extraordinarily elegant wine hails from the cellars of La Motte wine estate in Franschhoek and is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier. Mulberry fruit and pepper spice are prominent, while integrated oak gives depth on the nose. Thisred-and-white wine blend is soft, silky, and easy on the palate, with finesse and freshness on the finish. Its rich, fruity style makes it a versatile partner to food, too!

Cost: R280, available from www.La-Motte.co.za


Holden Manz Proprietors’ Blend 2015

www.holdenmanz.com

Holden Manz

Tasting notes: Located in the top southern-most corner of the Franschhoek Valley, the 22-hectare Holden Manz Wine Estate presented this maiden vintage of blended Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrahin 2019. The wine delivers a perfumed nose of black cherries, hibiscus, and raspberry, and hints of cedar wood and cherry pipe tobacco. The tannins are soft, voluptuous, and well integrated and the palate rich, creamy, silky smooth, and cassis fresh.This is an ultra-premium wines made for the discerning wine connoisseur!

Cost: R 250, available from www.holden-manz-wines.myshopify.com


Kanonkop Kadette Cape Blend 2018

www.kanonkop.co.za

Tasting notes: Of all the very fine red wines made in Stellenbosch and elsewhere in the Cape today, the name Kanonkop is consistently among those at the top of the lists compiled by critics, judges, collectors, and buyers. The Kadette Cape Blend is a medium-bodied wine with a deep ruby red colour and notes of red and black fruits on the nose, a well-balanced structure, and flavours of dark chocolate and blackberries. We love it because it’s a versatile, affordable, and reliably excellent red for every occasion!

Cost: R115, available from www.kanonkop.co.za


Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

www.plaisirdemerle.co.za

Plaisir de Merle

Tasting notes: The Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark ruby red wine with an aromatic nose of red berry fruit, sweet spice, and hints of vanilla and oak. This full-bodied, fruit-driven wine by winemaker Niel Bester delivers blackberry fruit, cedar notes, dark chocolate, and vanilla underscored by a firm, ripe tannin structure andlingering sweet red berry fruit…an absolute must for this winter!

Cost: R250, available from www.vinoteque.co.za


Steenberg Nebbiolo 2016

www.steenbergfarm.com

Steenberg Nebbiolo 2016

Tasting notes: On appearance, this unusual (for South Africa) wine is slightly brick red with a clear yet bright hue. The bouquet displays notes of savoury strawberry compote, aniseed and truffle, along with notes of leather and red cherry. Steenberg’s Nebbiolo (an Italian red varietal) displays typically tart acidity and grippy tannins, accompanied with hints of sour cherry, raspberry and tobacco leaf. Sound delicious? It also scored 4.5 stars in the Platter’s Wine Guide 2019!

Cost: R295, available from www.steenbergfarm.com


Lozärn Carménère 2017

www.lozarn.co.za

Tasting notes: Another unusual varietal for South Africa, the Lozärn Carménère hails from the fertile soils of Doornbosch farm in the Breede river valley. While this wine is still very young, the intense cherry notes on the nose and deep purple plums underscored by softer notes of mocha are delightful. Only 2,000 bottles were made so if you manage to get your hands on one, stash it away somewhere dark and cool and keep it for a few years before cracking it open with someone special.

Cost: R495, available from www.lozarn.co.za


Allesverloren Tinta Barocca 2017

www.allesverloren.co.za

Allesverloren Tinta Barocca 2017

Tasting notes: Situated on the south-eastern slopes of the Kasteelberg near Riebeek West, Allesverloren is the oldest estate in the Swartland Wine of Origin district and is renowned for its red wines and Fine Old Vintage. Its Tinta Barocca is anelegant, medium to full-bodied wine with intense berry fruit, subtle chocolate, vanilla, and oak spice aromas, well-structured tannins, and a lingering finish. It’s been a staple of wine and bottle store shelves for decades and for good reason!

Cost: R158, available from www.wine.co.za


Neethlingshof Estate Pinotage 2018

www.neethlingshof.co.za

Tasting notes: From the gorgeous and historic Stellenbosch estate of Neethlingshof comes this ruby red, medium-bodied Pinotage, which bursts with berry flavours and fruity aromas of cinnamon, plum, and prunes, all supported by a powerful tannic backbone. Neethlingshof Estate’s vine roots extend back to the earliest years of winemaking at the Cape. In fact, grapes were already being produced on the farm by 1705!

Cost: R110, available from www.neethlingshof.co.za


Excelsior ‘Evanthius’ Cabernet Sauvignon

www.excelsior.co.za

Excelsior ‘Evanthius’ Cabernet Sauvignon

Tasting notes: The Excelsior ‘Evanthius’ Cabernet Sauvignon pays homage to a champion racehorse that was imported by Excelsior in 1913 and went on to win many titles in South Africa, including that of Rosebank’s Champion Stallion. Made from the oldest vines on the farm, this double-gold Michelangelo award winner is a deep ruby red in colour with a black core: full-bodied with aromas of blackcurrants, chocolate, and cedar. This Cabernetis rich, but with soft tannins and a long finish.

Cost: R170, available from www.excelsior.co.za

DK Villas becomes a Formula Libre sponsor!

For years, Johann de Kock, one half of the passion and vision behind dk villas, has fervently supported Formula One racing. Who can say what it was about the sport that reeled him in? The roar of 900+ horsepower engines, the glint of flawlessly aerodynamic metal in the sun, the crowds erupting in cheers, the spirit…whatever it was, a love of racing was brought all the way home with the addition to the de Kock family of a son-in-law who races Formula Libre in South Africa.

Johann at F1 Singapore
Johann at F1 Singapore in 2015, a 10-year wedding anniversary present from wife Petra.

If Johann was a fan before, getting to know and love his son-in-law, Dee-Jay Booysen, took his support to fanatical levels. And now that Dee-Jay has acquired a brand new car for his team, Dico racing team #20, a very proud Johann, together with his wife and the other half of the passion and vision behind dk villas, Petra de Kock can fulfil another lifelong dream: to become an official sponsor in Formula racing.

“When we met Dee-Jay, of course, the interest was there, and now that he’s family, it’s a big thing,” says Petra. “We are so proud of him – he is an excellent driver and he has achieved so much!”

Let’s take a closer look at Formula Libre, dk villas’ sponsorship of Dee-Jay Booysen’s team, and his thrilling new career of racing at Killarney Race Track in Cape Town!


What is Formula Libre?

What is Formula Libre?

In the lean years following World War Two, when there wasn’t much money available to spend on the more “frivolous” of expenses, like motor racing, a more flexible and adaptive form of the sport evolved. Stringent automobile requirements were tossed out the window. Instead, you could race a wide variety of automobiles, ages, and makes of purpose-built racing cars, which competed head-to-head.

This renaissance in motor racing kept the sport alive at a time when it would otherwise have perished and, because racers were pretty much free to bring whatever vehicle they wanted to compete, it became known as “Formula Libre” (meaning free). The only regulations governing the sportcovered the basics, such as safety equipment.

“At club level, single-seaters happily rubbed wheels with specials and production sports cars, while a kind of halfway house category might simply combine singleseaters of all shapes and sizes, conceivably involving such rocket ships as the 4½-litre ‘ThinWall Special’ Ferrari or the 1½-litre supercharged BRM V16s with 2-litre Connaughts and Cooper-Bristols, ERAs, variably arthritic pre-war Maseratis plus 1000 or 1100cc air-cooled Cooper-Vincents and Cooper-JAPs,” writes renowned motor racing historian Doug Nye in his article Time for Formula Libre?

This really made (and makes) for some interesting competitions, while also opening opportunities for compelling driving performances against superior machinery.

Free formula racing went on to play an important role not only in British-based club racing but also in the international race calendar. And, as we said, it lead the revival of the sport in the wake of the economic doldrums left by the war. What with the global pandemic bringing world economies to yet another standstill, Formula Libre may very well once again explode into the limelight!


Formula Libre in South Africa

South Africa, of course, is no stranger to Formula Libre. In a country struggling for economic prosperity (but with no shortage of racing spirit), Formula Libre has long been the stage upon which countless aspiring professional racers have honed their skills and exerted their passions. And it continues to offer low cost, entry level racing that is as thrilling and action-packed as its more formal (and expensive) sister sport.

Formula Libre is also the ideal platform from which to launch South Africa’s motor racing stars of the future! Over the years, single seater Formula Libre has provided hundreds of young South African men and even women the opportunity to compete in Motor Sport at the National Championship level. And Dee-Jay Booysen with Dico racing team #20 is one of them!


Accomplished racer Dee-Jay Booysen

Racer Dee-Jay Booysen

Dee-Jay Booysen’s list of major achievements runs long:In 2010/2011, he came second overall in the Dirt Oval Carting Club Championship. In 2012, 2013, and 2014, he came first overall for the Formula M - 400cc Class C Club Championship (Half Circuit) and in 2018 and 2019, he won first overall in the Formula Libre – 1300cc Class S: WP Club Championship (Main Circuit), to name just a few of his accolades over the past decade.

This is not to mention snagging the love and devotion of Johann and Petra de Kock’s beloved daughter Chris-Lee and the birth of their beautiful little boy.

It’s only right that dk villas, fuelled by Johann’s enduring passion for racing, lends its support and sponsorship to this bright rising star in South African motor sport. So the next time you head down to Killarney Race Track (once life returns to normal after the pandemic) be sure to look out for Dico racing team #20, their brand new car, and dk villas’ proud logo!

Dico racing team

“After Lockdown” Adventure Series, Part 3
Discover the joy of living again through these exhilarating outdoor activities!

Welcome back to DK Villas’ three-part article series on the incredible diversity of exhilarating outdoor activities the Cape has to offer! Previously, in Part 2, we explored ziplining, stand-up-paddle (SUP) boarding, trail running, “Scootouring”, and kite surfing as ways to discover the joy of living again after so long in lockdown. In this instalment, we continue a final rampage through the thrilling ways you can explore the Cape: by horse-riding, snorkelling (with seals), ATV / quad biking, jet skiing, and 4 x 4 off-roading.

Horse-riding

Horse-Riding

The wind in your hair, the smell of fynbos and vineyards in your nose, and powerful muscles rippling between your thighs…is there any better way to experience the beauty of the Cape than from horseback? To sweeten the deal there’s a great array of outright options to choose from, from romantic sunset beach rides to wine-soaked meanders through the winelands’ vineyards.

To arrange your horseback riding adventure in Cape Town, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

Horse Riding Cape Town

Where: Multiple sites, including Noordhoek Beach, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Overberg, and more.
Website: www.horseridingcapetown.com
Email: info@horseridingcapetown.com
Telephone: +2776 251 8584 / +2783 313 4821

Mountain View Horse Trails

Where: Van Schoorsdrif Road, Durbanville
Website: www.mountainviewhorsetrails.co.za
Telephone: +2783 727 0256

Horse Rides at Pete’s

Where: R304, Koelenhof, Stellenbosch
Website: www.horseridesatpetes.co.za
Email: deirdre@horseridesatpetes.co.za
Telephone: +2781 038 7170


Snorkelling (with seals!)

Snorkelling

For the adrenalin junkies, sign up for a half-day, eco-friendly adventure, where you’ll actually jump into the ocean water (in a wetsuit) and snorkel with Cape fur seals! Experience their underwater world through your goggles, as they wheel and dive beneath the waves, coming close to inspect you out of curiosity. Don’t worry: the seals are harmless and pretty used to sharing the water with snorkelers. Besides, your friendly guides will keep you safe.

To arrange your snorkeling adventure in Cape Town, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

Animal Ocean Seal Snorkeling

Where: 8 Albert Road, Hout Bay
Website: www.sealsnorkeling.com
Email: info@sealsnorkeling.com
Telephone: +2772 296 9132

Ocean Experiences

Where: Shop 8, Quay 5, V&A Waterfront
Website: www.oceanexperiences.co.za
Email: info@oceanexperiences.co.za
Telephone: +2721 418 2870

Cape Town Bucketlist Ocean Adventures

Where: Harbour Road, Hout Bay
Website: www.capetownbucketlist.co.za
Email: info@capetownbucketlist.co.za
Telephone: +2782 497 8797


ATV / Quad-biking

Quad-biking

Sand dunes, mountain trails, and even vineyards…these varied landscapes are even more fun to explore from behind the wheel of a quad bike or ATV (all-terrain vehicle). Most of the quad bikes supplied by Cape Town’s adventure companies such as Dirty Boots, Absolute Adventures, and Downhill Adventures (details below) are automatic, so all you need to do is open the throttle and let her fly: no experience needed!

To arrange your quad biking adventure in Cape Town, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

Dirty Boots

Where: Multiple locations, including Melkbos, Cape Town, and the Cape Winelands.
Website: www.dirtyboots.co.za
Email: esna@dirtyboots.co.za
Telephone: +27 21 713 1491

Absolute Adventures

Where: Atlantis dunes, located 50 km outside of Cape Town on the N7.
Website: www.absoluteadventures.co.za
Email: ross@absoluteadventures.co.za
Telephone: +27 74 620 1525

Downhill Adventures

Where: Based on Kloof Street, Gardens (tracks are in Melkbos and the Atlantis Dunes)
Website: www.downhilladventures.com
Email: info@downhilladventures.com
Telephone: +2782 459 2422


Jet skiing

Jet skiing

Jet skiing (or “WetBiking” as it is now known) is quite possibly the most fun you can have travelling on the ocean’s surface. A WetBike is a planing water motorcycle that is often described as a cross between a motorcycle and a jet ski. There are a number of spots around the Cape and up the West Coast that offer WetBikes for rent or tours. The tours are weather dependent and do require all participants to be able to swim and to wear life jackets, but that’s hardly an imposition when you’re rocketing along the ocean surface with the fresh wind and sea spray in your face!

To arrange your jet skiing adventure in Cape Town, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

Ocean Star Sailing Academy

Where: Pentridge house, 11 Portswood Road, V & A Waterfront
Website: www.oceanstarcharters.co.za
Email: charters@oceanstarsailing.com
Telephone: +2783 556 6407

Bugaloo Adventures

Where: Harbour Road, Hout Bay
Website: www.bugalooadventures.co.za
Email: info@bugaloo.co.za

Dirty Boots

Where: Multiple locations, including Melkbos, Cape Town, and the Cape Winelands.
Website: www.dirtyboots.co.za
Email: esna@dirtyboots.co.za
Telephone: +2721 713 1491


4 x 4 Off-roading

4 x 4 Off-roading

Beating a path into the heart of the Cape’s wilderness reveals fresh perspectives, new scenery, and exhilarating terrain you would never encounter on any well-traveled road. You don’t need to own, buy, or even know how to drive a 4x4 to partake in a little ‘bundu bashing’. But for those with the necessary tools of the trade and the skills to operate them, you’ll find no shortage of bush whacking, dune bouncing, and donga diving opportunities near Cape Town:

  • The steep dune systems in Atlantis, 45 km from Cape Town (difficulty level 2-5)
  • The Blombosch 4×4 Nature Trail in Yzerfontein (level 1-2)
  • Buffelsfontein, which is spread out over Yzerfontein, Darling, and Langebaan (level 3-4)
  • The Wiesenhof Trail in Stellenbosch
  • Two Oceans View Route in Somerset West (level 3-4)
  • Takbok 4x4 Trail in Paarl (level 2-3)
  • Babylonstoren Trail in Malmesbury (level 4)
  • Sir Lowry’s Pass Route (bookings through CapeNature.co.za)
  • Sneeukoppie 4×4 in Rawsonville (level 2-3)
  • Tierkloof 4×4, also Rawsonville (level 3-4)

For a more comprehensive list of 4x4 trails in and around Cape Town with booking information, go to Bokkom.co.za/4x4-routes-around-cape-town.

There are also an abundance of 4x4 adventure companies in and around Cape Town that offer guided and self-drive tours. Here are three of the reputable, experienced ones….

All Terrain 4x4

Where: Atlantis Sand Dunes
Website: www.allterrain4x4.co.za
Email: trevor@allterrain4x4.co.za
Telephone: +2721 553 3390 / +2782 775 4941

Cape Wow Factor

Where: Zevenwacht Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, Cape Town
Website: www.capewowfactor.co.za
Email: info@capewowfactor.co.za
Telephone: +2782 775 4941 / +2782 379 7007

Activity Zone

Where: Melkbosstrand, Cape Town
Website: www.activityzone.co.za
Email: trevor@allterrain4x4.co.za
Telephone: +2782 775 4941

“After Lockdown” Adventure Series, Part 2
Discover the joy of living again through these exhilarating outdoor activities!

Welcome back to dk villas’ three-part article series on the incredible diversity of exhilarating outdoor activities the Cape has to offer! Previously, in Part 1, we explored skydiving, sea kayaking, Segway tours, mountain biking, and surfing as ways to discover the joy of living again after so long in lockdown. In this instalment, we continue on our rampage through the thrilling ways you can explore the Cape: by ziplining, stand-up paddle boarding, trail running, “Scootouring”, or kite surfing.


Ziplining

If you ever wondered what it must feel like to fly, ziplining is your answer! Strapped to a steel cable, your own gravity pulls you down the cable while the most spectacular scenery unfolds below you, from lushly carpeted valleys and forest canopies to roiling ocean, jagged cliffs, and more. There are a number of ziplining locations scattered around the Cape, each with unique landscape to explore from the air.

To arrange your ziplining adventure in Cape Town, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

SA Forest Adventures

Where: Multiple locations, including Caledon, Kleinmond, Cape Town, and Hermanus.
Website: www.saforestadventures.co.za
Email: bookings@saforestadventures.co.za
Telephone: +27 21 795 0225 / +27 79 495 3987

Cape Canopy Tour

Where: Forestry Road, Elgin.
Website: www.canopytour.co.za
Email: zipline@capecanopytour.co.za
Telephone: +27 21 300 0501

Acrobranch

Where: 1 Hout Bay Main Road, Constantia Nek, Constantia
Website: www.acrobranch.co.za
Email: info@acrobranch.co.za
Telephone: +27 86 999 0369


Stand-up-paddle (SUP) boarding

Stand-up-paddle boarding

For a more leisurely approach to outdoor adventure, why not rent a stand-up paddleboard and meander your way around the coast? Aside from balance and core strength, there isn’t much to master in order to enjoy the sport and whenever you need to cool off, you can just jump in the water!

Clifton, the V&A Waterfront, Simon’s Town, Bloubergstrand, and Langebaan are all super popular locations for stand-up paddle boarding in the Cape. To arrange your SUP adventure, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

SUP Cape Town

Where: Battery Park, Alfred Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town
Website: www.supcapetown.co.za
Email: supcapetown@gmail.com
Telephone: +27 71 603 8388

Stoked School of Surf

Where: 25 Strathmore Road, Camps Bay
Website: www.stokedsurfschool.com
Email: info@stokedsurfschool.com
Telephone: +2782 412 8781

Cabrinha

Where: Shop 53a, Eden On The Bay Shopping Center, Big Bay
Website: www.cabrinha.co.za
Email: lessons@cabrinha.co.za
Telephone: +27 21 554 1729 / +27 72 197 7020


Trail running

Trail running

If you prefer to tackle your hiking trails at speed, you can turn any of the Cape’s numerous hiking routes into a trail running course. The Peninsula Mountains offer a staggering diversity of trails but if you prefer a glass of wine at the end of a run, why not tackle the Cape winelands? Here are some gorgeous farms that maintain well-kept trail runs through stunningly beautiful indigenous flora and farmlands:

  • La Motte, Franschhoek
  • Zevenwacht, Kuils River
  • Lourensford, Stellenbosch
  • Kaapzicht Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
  • Blaauwklippen Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
  • Meerendal, Durbanville
  • Boschendal, Franschhoek
  • Mont Rochelle, Franschhoek
  • De Grendel Wine Estate, Durbanville
  • Steenberg Wine Farm, Tokai
  • Groot Constantia, Constantia

If you’re an avid trail runner looking for advice or a community to join, check out these great groups: Cape Town Trail Runners, Trail Running in Cape Town, Trail Run SA, and Tuesday Trails.


“Scootouring”

Scootouring

Jump on a Monster Mountain® Scooter and freewheel into the city below! “Scootours” offers a selection of scooter tours that provide an adventurous (and family-friendly) way to explore the Cape’s magnificent mountains and wine farms. All tours are guided by professional qualified guides and also accompanied by a photographer who will take action photos of the tour. Scooters are non-motorised and propelled by gravity.

Scootours

Where: 209 Tafelberg Road, Table Mountain (Nature Reserve) – they also run tours in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch
Website: www.scootours.co.za
Email: bookings@scootours.co.za
Telephone: +2782 776 0557


Kite surfing

With its broad expanses of beach, rich marine life, and sometimes tireless, yet prime wind conditions, the Cape boasts some of the country’s finest real estate for water sports…and kite surfing is no exception! Plus, the Cape is legendary for its summertime southeasterly winds, which may be a pain in the you-know-what for beachgoers but for wind surfers, it’s a guaranteed party!

Three beaches great for kite surfing
  1. Bloubergstrand: This is, without a doubt, the most popular beach for kitesurfers in Cape Town. Here, the reliable summer southeasterly wind provides for great down-winder sessions all the way from Sunset Beach to Bloubergstrand.
  2. Langebaan: The turquoise blue lagoon is a fantastic, scenic coastal area to enjoy kite surfing. Also, because it is sheltered from the main power of the open ocean, it’s a great place to learn how to kite surf!
  3. Muizenberg: With the wind pushing directly onshore, this relatively quieter beach is as popular for wind surfing as it is for wave surfing. There are a lot of quirky shops, restaurants, and coffee shops in the area so you can cap a session off with a bite to eat.

To arrange your kite surfing adventure, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

Kitekahunas

Where: Advanced Kiteboarding School, 12 Beach Boulevard, TableView
Website: www.kitekahunas.com
Email: mail@kitekahunas.com
Telephone: +2772 712 0498

High Five

Where: 68 Beach Boulevard, Table View, Bloubergstrand
Website: www.high-five.co.za
Email: info@high-five.co.za
Telephone: +2760 663 8775 / +2772 902 7899

Constantly Kiting South Africa

Where: 1 St. Croix Close, Langebaan, Western Cape
Website: www.constantlykiting.com
Email: info@constantlykiting.com
Telephone: +2773 071 3878


Stay tuned for part 3….

Next week, we’ll be dropping the third and final instalment of our three-part “After Lockdown” Adventure Series. Think: jet skiing, horse riding, 4x4 off-roading, snorkelling (with seals), and more! What better way is there to stretch your legs and feel alive again than with a little adrenalin rush?

“After Lockdown” Adventure Series, Part 1
Discover the joy of living again through these exhilarating outdoor activities!

We might still be several months away from really getting out and exploring our country the way we did before lockdown but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for, and getting excited about all the awesome things you can do in a post-COVID-19 world. In this three-part article series, we’ll explore all the exhilarating ways you can discover the joy of living again (and who you should contact to make it happen)!


Skydiving

Skydiving

There can hardly be a more sure-fire way of getting your heart hammering and blood roaring than by hurling yourself out of a plane flying at 9,000 feet above the ground. Complement the adrenalin rush with spectacular bird’s eye views of the Cape—her farmlands, vineyards, mountains, and embracing oceans—and you’ve got an unforgettable experience you will rave about for months and years to follow!

To arrange your skydiving adventure in Cape Town, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

Skydive Cape Town

Where: A 35-minute drive north along the R27 (West Coast road)
Website: www.skydivecapetown.co.za
Email: bookings@skydivecapetown.co.za
Telephone/ WhatsApp: +27 82 800 6290

Mother City Skydiving

Where: Diepkloof Airfield, off the N7 Highway, 14 km north of Malmesbury, just past the Annex Kloof Padstal.
Website: www.mothercityskydiving.co.za
Email: info@mothercityskydiving.co.za
Telephone: +27 79 337 2443

Skydive Africa (Two Oceans drop zone)

Where: in the heart of the Cape Winelands, at Diemerskraal Airfield, just outside the scenic town of Wellington.
Website: www.skydiveafrica.co.za
Email: info@skydiveafrica.co.za
Telephone: +27 82 707 8107


Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking

The Cape is embraced to the east, south, and west by glittering oceans and a rich, diverse marine ecosystem just waiting to be explored. Sea kayaking is an adventure that opens your eyes to the beauty of the region from the perspective of the water, as well as the birds, mammals, and sea life that thrive above, on, and beneath its surface. It’s also a great workout for those arms!

To arrange your kayaking adventure in Cape Town, contact any of the two reputable and experienced companies below….

Kaskazi Kayaks and Adventures

Where: 179 Beach Road, at the Shell service station, Mouille Point, Cape Town
Website: www.kaskazi.activitar.com
Email: info@kayak.co.za
Telephone: +2783 346 1146

Kayak Cape Town

Where: 1 Wharf Street, Simon’s Town, a 45 – 60-minute drive from Cape Town.
Website: www.kayakadventures.capetown
Email: info@kayakadventures.capetown
Telephone: +2782 497 8797


Segway touring

Segway touring

Exploring on the back of a Segway is a thrilling, four-dimensional way to experience the Cape’s nature and wine farms. Segways are two-wheeled motorized personal vehicles consisting of a platform for the feet mounted above an axle and an upright post surmounted by handles. They are controlled by the way the rider distributes their weight, which is something that can be learned and even mastered in as little as a few minutes.

Once you do get the hang of it, let the fun begin!

Here are two reputable companies that offer Segway adventure tours in Cape Town….

Spier Segway Vineyard Tours

Where: Spier Wine Farm, R310 Lynedoch Road, Stellenbosch
Website: www.segwaytours.co.za
Email: spier@segwaytours.co.za
Telephone: +27 21 809 1157 or +27 74 142 2307

Taylor-Made Adventures

Where: 3 Heathfield Way, De Wijnlanden Estate, Stellenbosch
Website: www.taylormadeadventures.co.za
Email: rory@taylormadeadventures.co.za
Telephone: +27 82 903 8660


Mountain biking

Mountain biking

The Cape’s vast abundance of natural landscapes is crisscrossed with mountain biking trails that allow adventurers to explore her thick forests, lush valleys, fynbos-carpeted mountains, and world-famous winelands on the back of a mountain bike. If you don’t own one, there are a ton of companies that rent them out and even offer guided tours with added perks like winetasting and lunch!

To arrange your mountain biking adventure in Cape Town, contact any of the three reputable and experienced companies below….

Cape Mountain Biking Tours

Website: www.cape-town-mountain-biking-tours.com
Email: info@capemountainbikingtours.com
Telephone: +2721 447 9240 / +2782 490 5879

Awol Tours

Where: The ClockTower, Dock Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Website: www.awoltours.co.za
Email: info@awoltours.co.za
Telephone: +2783 234 6428 / +2762 349 9025

iRide Africa

Where: 8 Richmond Road, Mowbray, Cape Town
Website: www.irideafrica.com
Email: info@irideafrica.com
Telephone: +2774 512 1306 / +2783 457 5662

For the more serious mountain bikers, there are lots of forums and communities, such as Western Cape Mountain Bike, you can refer to for route information and advice.


Surfing

Surfing

Cape Town is a world-famous destination for surfing and for good reason! Embraced on three sides by open ocean and with so many beaches to launch from, there is no shortage of challenges for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers. Here’s a look at some of the beaches we recommend for surfers of the various skill levels…

Three beaches great for beginners
  1. Muizenberg, False Bay: Perfect for beginners and intermediate surfers. Also boasts a vibey beachfront littered with surf schools and surf shops, and there are lifeguards and shark spotters on duty.
  2. Big Bay, Blouberg: Also a great spot for novice surfers with its user-friendly waves, vibey beachfront, and lifeguards. Big Bay does, however, offer a bit more swell and power than False Bay.
  3. Witsands Corner, Misty Cliffs: Perched on the west-facing flank of the Cape Peninsula, Witsands Corneroffers beginners and intermediate surfers big wavesto practice their skills on. Just be careful of the rip currents here.
Three Beaches great for intermediate surfers
  1. Kalk Bay, Cape Town: Kalk Bay isn’t onlyone of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world (according to Forbes); it’s also home to an epic surfing beach, both in summer and in winter.
  2. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town: Boasting iconic views of Table Mountain from across the bay, Bloubergstrand offers sugary white sand beaches, and miles and miles of surf for beginner and intermediate surfers.It is also one of the best and most exciting kiting hotspots in the country.
  3. Llandudno, Cape Town: This tiny sweep of soft, white sand is tucked into the peninsula right before Hout Bay, and offers gentle wavesand gorgeous views. Be warned, however:Llandudno’s big, hollow-barrelled wavescan make it treacherous so only experienced, intermediate surfers are advised to surf here.
Three beaches for the clinically insane
  1. Dungeons, Hout Bay: Dungeons is home to monstrous waves (up to 60-ft!), making it one of the most extreme surfing beaches in the country, featuring waves in the same league as Waimea(Hawaii) and Mavericks (California).
  2. Crayfish Factory, Kommetjie: Home to some of the heaviest and most exhilarating surfs, this iconic Cape Town surfing hotspot is a dream for extreme surfers in search of their next challenge.
  3. Dunes, Noordhoek: Located close the beautiful beachfront town of Noordhoek, a 30-minute walk along the beach, you’ll findDunes, which gets pumping when there is a good south-easterly wind blowing. Here, you can expect powerful, heavy,6 to 8-foot waves that provide world-class tubes.

To arrange surfing lessons, contact any of the two reputable and experienced companies below….

Surf Emporium

Where: 66 Beach Road, Surfers Corner, Muizenberg Beachfront
Website: www.surfemporium.co.za
Email: info@surfemporium.co.za
Telephone: +27 21 788 8687 or +2782 562 8687

Surf Big Bay

Where: 143 Big Bay Beach Club, Otto Du Plessis Drive, Big Bay
Website: www.capetownsurflessons.co.za
Email: info@surfbigbay.co.za
Telephone: +2771 425 5470


Stay tuned for part 2….

Next week, we’ll be diving right back into another bevvy of thrilling outdoor adventures that are just as popular with locals as they are with visitors to the Cape. What better way is there to stretch your legs and feel alive again after so long in lock-down than with a little adrenalin rush?

Make that Mocktail!
8 Delicious Virgin Cocktail Recipes

South Africa has just emerged from a terrible, terrible season. The dry season: a season of prohibition. But if there’s one thing living without booze has taught us, it’s that our bodies feel better and healthier when we live cleanly. So if you wanted to remain on the bandwagon, here are eight delicious ways you can happily do that (without peer pressure from your friends).


1. The Mango Mule

What you need:
4-5 Slices of cucumber
30 ml Honey syrup
45 ml Mango puree
45 ml Fresh lime juice
45 ml Ginger beer
Crushed ice

How to make your mango mule: Muddle cucumber and honey syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the mango puree and lime juice and shake with ice vigorously. Once your ingredients are thoroughly blended, strain your delicious mocktail into a copper mug for the perfect “Moscow Mule” aesthetic, top up with ginger beer, stir, and savour!


2. Virgin Cucumber Gimlet

Virgin Cucumber Gimlet

What you need:
45 ml Club soda
4-5 Slices of muddled* cucumber
30 ml Fresh lime juice
30 ml Simple syrup

How to make your virgin cucumber gimlet: Super simple - combine all the ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Serve over crushed ice in a glass of your choice and garnish with lime and/or a rolled slice of cucumber. Refreshing!

* “Muddling” is the process of extracting the essence of an ingredient, without actually adding it to your cocktail. You achieve this by throwing cucumber into your cocktail shaker and shaking it up with the rest of your ingredients. This partially pulverises the cucumber, lending its clean, mild flavour to the resultant mocktail. You can also do this with mint, basil, and other herbs and botanicals.


3. Tahitian Coffee (serves 2)

Tahitian Coffee
Image source: www.bevvy.co

What you need:
60 ml Lime juice
60 g Orange
30 ml Simple syrup
30 ml Passion fruit puree
60 ml Guava puree
60 ml Cold brew concentrate
90 ml Honey syrup*
450 g Ice

How to make your Tahitian Coffee: Like a mad scientist, throw all the ingredients, including ice, into a blender and process until the mixture attains the texture of a slushy. Then, divide between two large glasses and garnish with orchard flowers (if you’re feeling fancy).

*How do you make honey syrup? Mix three parts honey to one part hot water by weight. Shake and stir until syrup reaches uniform dilution. Keep refrigerated.


4. Mojito Mocktail

Mojito Mocktail

What you need:
1 Tbsp sugar
Handful of mint
3 x Limes, juiced
Soda water

How to make your mojito mocktail: Using a pestle and mortar (or a small bowl and the end of a rolling pin), muddle the sugar with the mint leaves. Then, throw a handful of crushed ice into two tall glasses and divide the lime juice between them, together with the mint and sugar mix. Finally, add a straw and top up with soda water.


5. Negroni Mocktail

What you need:
½ Grapefruit (approximately 125 g)
2 x Slices orange
125 g Caster sugar
3 x Cardamom pods, lightly crushed
A pinch of coriander seeds
A few drops red food colouring
25 ml White grape juice

How to make your Negroni mocktail: Chop the grapefruit into small chunks and put them into a saucepan along with the orange slice, sugar, 125 ml water, cardamom pods, and coriander seeds. Heat the mixture and simmer for ± 5 minutes, crushing the fruit pieces with the back of a wooden spoon to release the juices. Once the fruit has softened, take it off the heat and leave to cool. If you like, add a splash of red food colouring. Once the syrup mixture has cooled, strain, fill a tumbler with ice and pour in 25 ml of it. Add the grape juice and 25 ml of cold water, and stir. Garnish with a slice of orange.


6. Pear and Rose Punch

Pear and Rose Punch

What you need:
1 Litre of pear juice
1 Vanilla pod
1 Tbsp golden caster sugar
4 Cardamom pods
Few slices of root ginger
25 ml Raw apple cider vinegar
½ Tsp rosewater
250 ml sparkling water

For the garnish: rosemary sprigs, thyme, sliced pear, frozen redcurrants

How to make your pear and rose punch: Pour the pear juice into a large pan. Add the vanilla pod, golden caster sugar, cardamom pods, and root ginger, and bring to a simmer. Leave to cool completely, then strain into a punch bowl or jug.
Add the raw apple cider vinegar, rosewater, and sparkling water. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, thyme, sliced red pear and a handful of frozen redcurrants. Add ice and serve!


7. Virgin Watermelon Margarita

Virgin Watermelon Margarita
Image source: www.fooddonelight.com

What you need:
1 Medium seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
5 Cups of fresh lime juice
4 Tsp agave
5 Tbsp sparking water

How to make your virgin watermelon margarita: In a blender, puree enough watermelon chunks to make 4 cups of puree. Add lime juice and agave and mix again. Pour into four cups and top up with sparkling water. Cheers!


8. Gin-free G&T

What you need:
5 Cardamom pods
½ Cucumber
1 Chamomile teabag
½ Bunch mint leaves, plus extra to garnish
1 Strip lemon zest
5 Cloves
½ Bunch rosemary
Tonic water
A few pomegranate seeds for garnish

How to make your gin-free G&T: Bruise the cardamom pods and slice the cucumber. Put them both in a large jug and add the chamomile teabag, mint leaves, lemon zest, cloves, and rosemary. Top up with 500 ml cold water. Leave to infuse in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours. To serve, strain the infused water and pour 50 ml of it into each glass. Top up with tonic water and lots of ice. Garnish each one with a few more mint leaves and pomegranate seeds.

Hiking Table Mountain, the Mother City’s Icon

Walking one of the many trails that crisscross Table Mountain is practically a rite of passage for Capetonians, and an absolute must-do far any remotely fit visitor to our fair shores. Cape Town’s flat-topped, megalithic icon not only offers up a decent challenge for fitness enthusiasts, but also, for anyone and everyone, spectacular views and an experience in nature you literally cannot replicate anywhere else on Earth.

Before you do embark on a hike anywhere in the Cape, it’s best to acquaint yourself with the recommended safety guidelines. We have provided these for you to read through at the end of this blog. Without further ado, here are Table Mountain’s best-loved hiking trails….


1. The Pipe Track

The Pipe Track

The Pipe Track is an easy hiking route that starts at the intersection of Tafelberg Road and Kloof Nek on the foothills of Table Mountain, and strikes from north to south along the slope’s natural contour. The route is popular because it’s an easy walk for people of all ages (including dog-walkers) and yet the rewards are gorgeous, sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and the seaside suburbs of Camps Bay and Bakoven, which unfurl beneath your lofty vantage point. At your back are steep sandstone cliffs and lush ravines that plunge into the western flank of Table Mountain.

Hike difficulty: Easy, though long if you take the trail to its furthest extent.

Approximate trail length: The full length of the hike is 6 km, one way (to Corridor Ravine) and about 4,5 hours return.

What’s special about the Pipe Track? The views are wonderful but we especially love the pristine montane fynbos you discover embracing the trail.

Any special warnings? The Pipe Track is shaded in the mornings but, because it is west facing, it receives a lot of sun during the day so it can get uncomfortably (and dangerously hot) on those warmer summer days. Come prepared!


2. Skeleton Gorge Hiking Trail

Skeleton Gorge offers a thrilling hike through emerald ravines, thick vegetation, and steep mountainous terrain, ending at MaClear’s Beacon, the highest point of Table Mountain. The starting point for the hike is at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens but the real “meat” of the route begins at the intersection of Skeleton Gorge and the Contour Path. The first hour of the hike involves a steep forest climb on stone and log steps, followed by a series of wooden ladders over steep rocks. There’s so much in terms of natural beauty to soak up here, from the mountain’s shy, endemic birds to truly splendid views of the city.

Skeleton Gorge

Hike difficulty: Moderate to hard. Skeleton Gorge is a long hike and has occasional steep and strenuous passages.

Approximate trail length: About 4 km to McClear’s Beacon, which can take fit hikers 2 hours to reach or, for the less fit who take plenty of breaks, ±4 hours.

What’s special about Skeleton Gorge? Being a gorge hike, the route is shaded nearly all the way to the top, which makes it a cooler option for the hot summer months. It’s also staggeringly beautiful at the top!

Any special warnings? Parts of Skeleton Gorge are slippery, even in summer; take special care after rain and in winter. In fact, it’s best to avoid this route during and immediately after heavy rain.


3. India Venster Trail

India Venster Trail

India Venster is, debatably, the most gorgeous half-day route one can take to the summit of Table Mountain. Striking directly up the imposing and dramatic north-facing slope of the mountain, the hike leads explorers through a steep, boulder-strewn, fynbos-carpeted landscape with panoramic city and ocean views. In places, the route requires a bit of scrambling through narrow spaces and over boulders so it’s for the more ambitious of hikers. The route starts to the right of the cable car’s lower station (on Tafelberg Road) and climbs quickly to the contour path. From there, India Venster really takes off! Just follow the yellow footsteps all the way to the top of the mountain.

Hike difficulty: Difficult for its steepness, obstacles, and exposure to heights.

Approximate trail length: About 3 km but it can take upwards of three hours to complete due to its gradient.

What’s special about India Venster? It offers the thrill of great heights, the adventure of striking up a steep mountain face littered with boulders, and heart-breakingly beautiful views of Cape Town.

Any special warnings? India Venster is not to be trifled with. It’s steep, demanding, and all precautions should be taken to avoid dehydration and sun over-exposure. With adequate preparation, however, it’s an unforgettable hike!


4. Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail

Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail

The Kasteelspoort trail is an exhilarating and fairly long hike that embarks from the Pipe Track starting point above Camps Bay. Alternatively, you could park in Theresa Road and walk up the Jeep Track and from there, to the Pipe Track. Once on the Pipe Track, you just take the Kasteelspoort turn-off to enjoy 3 to 10 kilometres’ of gorgeous peninsula scenery, fynbos, and fresh ocean breeze. Travelling up the Twelve Apostles side of Table Mountain, the hike ends at the summit for even more rewarding views.

Hike difficulty: Moderate the difficult – it can be challenging for the less fit hiker.

Approximate trail length: Depending on how far you go, the trail is between 3 and 10 km long to the summit. Once there you may take a little longer to wander around. All in all, it should take just under five hours of leisurely-paced walking.

What’s special about the Kasteelspoort Trail? It’s the perfect blend of challenge, stunning scenery, and reward because once you get to the top, you can actually walk around and explore the summit.

Any special warnings? Similar to the Pipe Track, this route is shaded in the mornings and receives direct sunlight throughout the day. It is, however, quite a bit more taxing so hiking early in the morning is recommended (and bring plenty of water with you!)

*Special Tip: For longer, more strenuous hikes you should pack as much as 3 litres of water to keep you hydrated. To keep your back-up bottles nice and cold throughout your hike, freeze them before you leave home.


5. Platteklip Gorge Hike

Platteklip Gorge Hike

Embarking from Tafelberg Road, about 1.5 km past the lower cable car station, Platteklip Gorge hike follows the natural cleft in Table Mountains’ city-facing countenance. The path has been well constructed with anti-erosion gabions and stone steps but it is hard. Why? Because it goes straight up, for 3 kilometres. Imagine climbing stairs for 3 kilometres. That’s Platteklip Gorge for you.

So why do it?

Platteklip Gorge takes the most direct route to the top of Table Mountain and it’s for the thrill of the climb, its dramatic steepness and imposing cliffs, and beautiful views that it’s become the most popular too.

Hike difficulty: Difficult - your butt and calves will HURT afterwards!

Approximate trail length: It’s only about 3 km in length but it’s straight up, so it can take 1 hour for the super fit and up to 3 hours for the more human of us.

What’s special about Platteklip Gorge? Aside from the challenge of it all, there’s a river en route (and who doesn’t love encountering a river on a hike?)

Any special warnings? Don’t underestimate this hike! In summer, the route can be extremely hot and windy and in winter, extremely cold and windy (that’s Cape Town for you). Always pack enough water, sun protection, and warm, wind-proof clothing, even in summer.


The Ten Basic Rules of Mountain Safety

Basic Rules of Mountain Safety
  1. Don’t hike alone; four is the ideal number.
  2. Choose your route carefully and stick to it. Allow yourself enough time - start early. Inform someone of your route and what time you’re expected back.
  3. Choose a hike leader and walk at the pace of the slowest member.
  4. If lost, don’t split up. Rather try to retrace your steps. Remember that climbing down is more difficult than climbing up.
  5. Always take waterproof clothing, even in mid-summer, and wear walking shoes or hiking boots. Wear a hat or cap and sun block in summer. The weather in Cape Town changes rapidly.
  6. If lost or forced to stop because of bad weather, stay together and remain in one place. Find the closest shelter from wind and rain.
  7. In case of injury, take time to assess the situation. Then send two people for help and let the third remain with the injured person. If possible, mark the position on a map and send it with those going for help.
  8. Stick to well-used paths and read any warnings. Don’t take shortcuts and especially don’t wander into ravines.
  9. Always take enough water (especially in summer) and food in case of a delay. Watch the weather and time, and turn back before you start running late or if bad weather threatens.
  10. Take a fully charged cell phone. Some parts of Table Mountain do not have reception, but you will always be able to reach a place where you can use a phone more quickly than if you wait to get to a landline.

Three Rules for Personal Security

  1. Do not attract unwanted attention by openly displaying cash, cameras, or other valuables.
  2. If you are confronted by a criminal, don't resist. Hand over your goods as resistance might incite violence.
  3. Program emergency numbers in your cell phone before your hike.

Kalaeidescopic Kingdom: The Cape’s Fynbos

When the colonial settlers first arrived in the Cape, they were met with dramatic and stunningly beautiful landscapes, the width and breadth of which they could scarcely communicate in letters to their loved ones back home. Yet, for all its beauty and fecundity – its abundant wildlife, teeming oceans, and mineral-rich soils – the one natural resource the colonists needed the most to build their early settlements was nowhere to be found.

Hardwood.

What they discovered upon dropping anchor along the Cape’s naturally scalloped peninsula were great carpets of a fine-leafed, kaleidoscopically coloured flora teeming with bejewelled sunbirds. This unique floral kingdom has since become known as fynbos (“fine bush” in Afrikaans), because of its slim build and fine leaves. In other words: no good for building homes and ships!

Outside of Hout Bay’s great forests of yellowwood trees, the colonists were forced to import their own hardwoods from Europe and further afield, like Australia. Today, the only forests that flourish in the Cape are imports, some of which, not too long ago, became a major threat to our very own and very special biome: the Cape Floral Kingdom.


Our Kingdom: the most unique of them all

Our Kingdom: the most unique of them all
Pincushions – named for their shape – are a type of protea

Covering about 90,000 km2, the Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of the six plant kingdoms on planet Earth (which include the Antarctic, Australasian, Boreal, Neotropic, and Palaeotropic kingdoms). And yet, it is the most rare and diverse, with more than 7,000 different species of plants, a staggering 75% of which are endemic to the region, meaning that they are found only here and nowhere else in the world.

At first glance, fynbos might not appear to be all that beautiful: indeed, landscapes carpeted in this low-lying, scrubby indigenous vegetation can appear quite drab and a mix of olive greens and greys in colour. But if you look a little closer, particularly during flowering season, you will find a canvas painted every colour of the rainbow, from brilliant pink proteas and bright orange pincushions to delicate blue ericas and yellow watsonias.

Their shapes, if at all possible, are even more beguiling and otherworldly, as you can see in the image of the orange pincushion proteas above.


Recognising the different types of Fynbos

Recognising the different types of Fynbos
The montane fynbos of Table Mountain

Due to the variation of landscapes found throughout the southwestern Cape, fynbos has been broadly divided into two archetypes:

Lowland fynbos: occurs in a narrow coastal belt of up to 300 meters above sea level, particularly in the sandy soils of the West Coast.
Montane fynbos: found at higher elevations, carpeting the majestic flanks and crowns of the Cape fold mountains and peninsula.

The Western Cape experiences cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers, which is described as a Mediterranean climate (although no fynbos actually grows in the Mediterranean). Fynbos tends to thrive on poor soil not high in nutrients, which likely explains its small stature and fine leaves: it just doesn’t have the energy to expend on developing large leaves and rotund boles.


What makes Fynbos so incredibly unique?

As we’ve already mentioned, the Cape Floral Kingdom boasts more than 7,000 species of plants, of which 75% are totally unique to the Cape. Put another way, we are home to a staggering 3% of the world’s plant species, and 20% of the African continent’s. This makes the Western Cape more botanically diverse than the richest, most prolific and lush tropical rainforests in South America, including the Amazon!

Because fynbos is endemic to the Cape, it also supports a number of endemic bird species, such as the Cape sugarbird, orange-breasted sunbird, and protea seedeater. And it’s for these rarities and once-in-a-lifetime sightings that birdwatchers travel to South Africa from all over the world.

The Cape sugarbird
The Cape sugarbird is found exclusively in the Western Cape of South Africa

Another unique feature of fynbos is that is literally depends on periodic fires for survival, which is just as well because every few years, devastating wildfires break out along the peninsula mountains. Rather than being destroyed by these fires, the heat triggers the release of the plants’ hard, woody seedpods. Once the fire has abated, these seeds take root in soil that has been made fertile by ash. And like a literal Phoenix rising from the ashes, the fynbos is reborn.


An uncertain, yet celebrated future

As with so much of the Cape’s indigenous life, fynbos faces multiple threats, with 1,700 species on the brink of extinction. Invasive vegetation, particularly alien imports from Australia (e.g. black wattle), agriculture, urbanization, habitat loss, and even global climate change are all taking an immense toll on fynbos and the meagre acreage it has left to grow on.

The wonderful news is the Capetonians understand the importance of our unique Cape Floral Kingdom and are doing whatever they can to preserve it in all its authentic glory. Many wine estates and farms around the Cape dedicate percentages of their land to this indigenous vegetation, while Cape Nature and San Parks protect what pockets of fynbos remain in and around the Western Cape.

So, the next time you find yourself walking through the fynbos, take a look deep into the bush and marvel at how lucky the Cape is to have such a rich and unique natural heritage.

The Best Board and Card Games for Friends and Families

Getting a little BORED at home? Why not disinter the old board and card games of that golden, bygone era when people used to have fun away from a digital or LCD screen? And if you don’t have any games, why not order a few online? That’s right: step away from the iPad: it’s time for some fun, funny, and flirtatious board and card games. Here are our favourites….


Cluedo

Cluedo

Cluedo has been around for decades but that doesn’t make it out-dated. Recently, in fact, the game has been reimagined to fit many themes: Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and even Big Bang Theory.

So, how does it work?

The objective of Cluedo is to solve a murder mystery (to keep things simple, we’ll stick to the original version in our explanation). You have been invited to a dinner part in a mansion and – shock / horror! – one of the dinner guests has been murdered and the murderer (and murder weapon) are somewhere in the mansion.

Your task is to figure out in which room the crime took place (the study, the kitchen, the ballroom, etc.), which weapon was used (poison, candle stick, rope, etc.), and which of your fellow guests did it. Each player assumes the role of one of the six suspects and attempts to deduce the correct answer by strategically moving around a game board representing the rooms of a mansion and collecting clues about the circumstances of the murder from the other players.

It’s a great game for the whole family (suitable for 5+ years | 3-6 players) and will put your skills of deduction to the test! Buy It Here on Takealot.


Jenga

Jenga

Jenga is super simple to learn but challenging (and fun) to master. Essentially, the game kicks off with a tower of 18 levels of 3 rectangular wooden blocks that are stacked on top of each other (as you see in the picture above) but with each level having the blocks positioned at right angles to the previous level.

Once the tower is built, the game begins. The goal is to carefully remove one (and only one) Jenga piece from any level in the tower, except the one below the topmost level, and relocate it to the top. You may use only one hand at any time!

At first, Jenga seems simple, but as blocks are removed from their positions so too is the support they provided the tower, and things start getting decidedly unstable. The game ends when the tower falls, which it does in spectacular style the higher you manage to build it. The winner is the last person to remove and place a block successfully.

Jenga is a game of strategy and steady nerves, and is suitable for people 6+ years and 2+ players. Buy It Here on Takealot.

Change it up: Make Jenga a little naughty by writing dares on each of the wooden blocks. Then, whenever someone extracts a block from the tower, they have to perform the dare written on their block: for example, sing an operatic rendition of the American national anthem, peel a banana with your feet, or give someone a smooch.


Uno Card Game

Uno Card Game

Ah, Uno… a legendary card game. In fact, Uno is one of the few games you can play, literally for hours, without getting sick of it (although it has caused more than just a few fight between friends, family members, and couples!)

The goal of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in your hand. At the beginning of the game, you’re dealt seven cards and, during each turn, you get a chance to put one card down. The card you play needs to match, either in colour or number, the card played before you. If you can’t play, you must draw a card, and if you forget to yell “Uno!” when you get down to one card in your hand, you must also draw cards. The first player to get rid of all their cards wins the game.

Uno is suitable for people aged 7+ and for 2+ players. Buy It Here on Takealot.


Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit is the original trivia game that started it all. Each player has a circular playing counter with six pie-shaped holes in it. Each slice of pie is represented by a different colour and each colour represents a trivia topic, from sports and geography to nature and history, etc.

The goal of the game is to collect a piece of pie in each colour until your counter is full and you can rain your smugness down upon your unworthy opponents. How do you collect pie pieces? By moving about the spokes of the board to certain special locations where you get to answer trivia questions. If you get the question right, you get a slice of pie!

This one, like Cluedo, has also been reimagined and released in various editions so you can nerd out on the Harry Potter version or get a little kooky with Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas edition.

Trivial Pursuit is suitable for players of 7+ years (although the original version was super difficult!) and for 2+ players. Buy It Here on Takealot.


30 Seconds

30 Seconds

30 Seconds is a brilliant game for any gathering and a firm favourite of trivia lovers. Teams are composed of two players who each take turns explaining cards to each other. Each round, the team draws a card and then has 30 seconds to explain up to five different words printed on that card, such as the name of a city, a famous politician, or a rock band.

You can’t use any words (or parts of that word) that appear in the name to explain it and you can’t use any “sounds like” or “rhymes with” tactics. For each answer your teammate guesses correctly within the 30-second timeframe, you can move forward by one square. If you want to up the challenge you can bring the dice into play, which shows a 0, 1, or 2. Throw the dice before your turn and whatever number it lands on is the number of tiles you must move backwards.

The goal is to work your way around the board to the final tile. 30 Seconds is suitable for people aged 15+ years (it might be too hard for younger players) and anywhere between 2 and 16 players. Buy It Here on Takealot.


Exploding Kittens

Hilarious, tongue-and-cheek, and totally addictive, Exploding Kittens is for people with a wry sense of humour (and who love kittens and explosions). How it works is: players take turns drawing cards until someone picks up an exploding kitten. The only way to survive an exploding kitten is to play a defuse card, of which each player gets only one.

The rest of the game involves avoiding this untimely and violent death by playing a variety of hysterically funny, illustrated (and occasionally rude) cards, like the “a plague of bat farts descends upon you” card.

The game itself is simple once you get the hang of it but the true joy is in the cards themselves, which are incredibly random, funny, and dirty. Exploding Kittens is suitable for older kids and 2-5 players. Buy It Here on Takealot.


Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity

If you have a truly filthy mind and no amount of crudeness can offend you, Cards Against Humanity is a party game that will forever play an integral role in any and all of your gatherings. The first time I played this game, I literally cried my eyes out laughing, and in the morning, my abdominal muscles felt like I’d attended a power core gym class.

How it works is: one player draws a “fill-in-the-blank/s” statement card. He or she then announces this statement to the rest of the players who must now submit, from their hand of cards, which are dealt at the beginning of the game, the funniest possible word or phrase to fit into the blank.

Whichever card is deemed the funniest, most provocative, or clever by the player posing the statement wins the round (and the player who submitted it is awarded a point). The next round, someone else takes the podium and so on. Whoever wins the most rounds is the overall winner, although no one really cares about winning. You get all the kicks you need from the content of the game itself.

Cards Against Humanity is an adult-only game and is suitable for 3+ players. Buy It Here on Takealot.


What Do You Meme?

What Do You Meme?

What Do You Meme? Is similar in concept to Cards Against Humanity, except that instead of a statement card with blanks, each player takes turns showing to the group a picture card with a famous Internet meme like “Success Baby” or “High Guy”. Each player then submits what they believe to be the funniest, dirtiest, or cleverest tagline to go along with the meme and the judging player decides who wins.

There are a few versions of this game: there’s the family version, which keeps things nice and PC and then there’s the original version, which is just as risqué and politically incorrect as Cards Against Humanity. Either way, it’s a guaranteed laugh! Suitable for 3+ players. Buy It Here on Takealot.