dk villas’ Favourite Wines for Autumn

Just about overnight it seems the weather in the Cape has gone from summer to winter, but that’s all right. It’s not like we can appreciate the sun anyway! What we can appreciate in this schizophrenic weather is the full spectrum of delicious wine the Cape Winelands produce, from crisp Sauvignon Blancs on warm days to sultry Syrahs on cooler evenings. Here are our favourite wine farms and some of the wines they make that are perfectly suited to the season.


Springfield “Life From Stone” Sauvignon Blanc

Wine region: Robertson

Tasting notes: Life from Stone derives its name from the incredibly rocky soils in which the grapes are grown. This Sauvignon Blanc is pale straw in colour and has an aromatic nose pungent with tropical fruits emerging from a nettle and herbal first impression. The palate bursts with gooseberry and tart fruit notes, as well as zipping acidity and fine ripeness. Pure and long in the finish, this Robertson-based winery’s concentrated, powerful Sauvignon is a beautiful wine!

Web: www.springfieldestate.com


Gabriëlskloof “Rosebud” Rosé

Wine region: Bot Rivier

Tasting notes: The “Rosebud” Rosé from Gabriëlskloof Winery in Botrivier (near Hermanus) is regarded as the little darling of the Estate Range. This blended Rosé-style wine is made from a 50% mix of Syrah and Viognier, both grown on the farm. The constituent wines were co-fermented in stainless steel tanks and left to age for four months before bottling. The Gabriëlskloof Rosebud Rosé boasts a peach and spice fragrance, juicy fresh flavours, and food-friendly dryness that make it equally attractive as an aperitif.

Web: www.gabrielskloof.co.za


Allesverloren Tinta Barocca

Wine region: Swartland

Tasting notes: Located 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. The Allesverloren Tinta Barocca is a gorgeous deep ruby red in colour with red berry fruits and a hint of chocolate, vanilla, and oak spice aroma on the nose. On the palate, this elegant, medium- to full-bodied Portuguese varietal wine bursts with intense berry fruit underscored by subtle oak spice, finishing long and with well-structured tannins.

Web: www.allesverloren.co.za


Teubes Family Wines “Malkopbaai, The Gannet” Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Wine region: Vredendal

Tasting notes: The recently released “Malkopbaai, The Gannet” from Teubes Wines is a stunning reserve Sauvignon Blanc that took 2019 by storm. The latest Sauvignon Blanc from the estate, which is fresh, fruity, and citrusy, and affordable, is the perfect fit for this time of year. The grapes originate from organic vineyards grown next to the Olifants River up the West Coast, where they are bathed in cool afternoon breezes, an abundance of sunshine, and the perfect terroir.

Web: www.teubeswines.co.za


Kleinood Tamboerskloof Syrah

Wine region: Stellenbosch

Tasting notes: Kleinood is a small Stellenbosch farm with just twelve hectares of arable land, 10 of which are devoted to vines and the rest to olive groves, fynbos, roses, and vegetables. The Kleinood Tamboerskloof Syrah is a bright ruby colour with complex cranberry and blackberry fruits exquisitely opening into violets and jasmine notes. This Syrah is elegant with well-rounded tannin and a fruitful follow-through from the nose causing a lingering finish, the perfect accompaniment to those cooler autumn evenings.

Web: www.kleinood.com


Clos Malverne “Ellie” Méthode Cap Classique

Wine region: Stellenbosch (Devon Valley)

Tasting notes: From the rolling Devon Valley hills in Stellenbosch comes the “Ellie” Méthode Cap Classique from Clos Malverne, a wine with a beguiling pinkish hue and ample fresh fruit intensity and body leading to a crisp, dry finish. Saffron and strawberry aromas dominate the nose, while a delicate mousse provides an explosion of extra fine bubbles that charm the palate. No one ever needed an excuse to enjoy an exquisite glass of bubbly but if one were compelled to come up with one, autumn’s warm days and long evenings are it!

Web: www.closmalverne.co.za


Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve

Wine region: Stellenbosch (Koelenhof)

Tasting notes: Beyerskloof is famous for its Pinotage and rightly so but the estate’s Pinotage Reserve just takes things to a whole new level. Made from single region Pinotage bush vines matured only in French oak, this wine really defines Stellenbosch at its highest calibre while also showcasing the quality of this cultivar when handled with respect. The resultant wine is well balanced, rich, and juicy with blackberry and plum flavours when young, and develops softer characters with ages.

Web: www.beyerskloof.co.za


Webersburg Méthode Cap Classique Brut

Wine region: Stellenbosch (Annandale)

Tasting notes: This 56% Chardonnay, 39% Pinot Noir, and 6% Pinot Meunier MCC Brut from Webersburg in Stellenbosch offers a lively expression of delicate richness and freshness with a seductive palate of citrus, fresh apple blossoms. Matured on the lees for up to five years, this Méthode Cap Classique has a great depth and rich fine mousse on the finish that pairs beautifully with fresh oysters, seafood, and salads.

Web: www.webersburg.co.za


Rickety Bridge Chenin Blanc

Wine region: Franschhoek

Tasting notes: From the spectacular Franschhoek winelands comes the Rickety Bridge Chenin Blanc, a delicious warm weather wine with inviting aromas of guava and white peach with underlying floral and green fig notes. The palate is full and rich in tropical fruit, citrus, and spice, which leads into a long, honeyed finish. The grapes used to make this wine were sourced from an old bush vine block from the estate and from other areas in the Western Cape known for producing outstanding Chenin Blanc.

Web:
www.ricketybridge.com


Riebeeck Cellars’ “Pieter Cruythoft” Sparkling Brut

Wine region: Swartland

Tasting notes: Ah, a bubbly wine so worthy of celebration that dk villas decided to make it our welcome wine for all guests! The “Pieter Cruythoft” Sparkling Brut is made by Riebeeck Cellars in the Swartland Wine of Origin Region. This smooth, luxurious Brut was made to honour the founder of the Riebeek valley and celebrate his discovery of the valley in 1661. It’s made in a traditional Champagne blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that yields a happy balance of fresh fruit, subtle biscuit notes, and a crisp, dry finish.

Web: www.riebeekcellarscollection.com


Warwick Estate “First Lady” Chardonnay

Wine region: Stellenbosch

Tasting notes: This lightly wooded Chardonnay from the Stellenbosch-based Warwick Wine Estate is one of those wines you can drink in any weather, which is a good thing because autumn in the Cape can cover all four seasons in one day. This Chardonnay is a pale straw in colour with flecks of green when it catches the light, and has a gorgeous citrus fragrance of lemon, lime, and orange peel complimented with apple blossom.

Web: www.warwickwine.com

Escape to Destinations Around the World with these Favourite Travel Movies

Just because we have all had to put off the possibility of travel for several months, if not longer, doesn’t mean that we can’t regularly escape to exotic destinations. Here are some gorgeous travel movies that will help to satisfy your wanderlust whilst in lockdown….


Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Starring: Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan

Frances Mayes is a 35-year-old San Francisco writer whose perfect life has just taken an unexpected detour. Her recent divorce has left her extremely depressed and with terminal writer's block. Her best friend, Patti, thinks that she might never recover and so she urges her to go to Tuscany, Italy for a bit of healthy distraction. It's there that, on a whim, Frances purchases a villa in sore need of restoration. As she flings herself into her new life at the villa in the lush Italian countryside, Frances makes new friends among her neighbours and discovers that, in life, there are second chances.


Into the Wild (2007)

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden

Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead, 22 year-old Christopher McCandless instead walks out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happens to him on the way transforms this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people. McCandless' quest takes him from the wheat fields of South Dakota to a renegade trip down the Colorado River to the non-conformists' refuge of Slab City, California, and beyond. Along the way, he encounters a series of colourful characters at the very edges of American society who shape his understanding of life and whose lives he, in turn, changes. Based on a true story.


Vicky, Christina, Barcelona (2008)

Starring: Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Patricia Clarkson, Rebecca Hall, Chris Messina

Two friends, Vicky and Christina, go on a summer holiday in Barcelona, Spain where they meet and become enamoured with a handsome painter, blissfully unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture. Vicky is straight-laced and about to be married. Cristina is a sexually adventurous free spirit. When they all become amorously entangled, both comedic and harrowing results ensue, with the city of Barcelona setting the enchanting and smoulderingly sexy scene.


Wild (2014)

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Thomas Sadoski, Michiel Huisman, Gaby Hoffmann

With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years of reckless, destructive behaviour, she makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, driven only by sheer determination, Cheryl hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. “Wild” powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddens, strengthens, and ultimately heals her.


Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

Starring: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, B.D. Wong

“Seven Years in Tibet” tells the story of Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, whose attempt to scale a Himalayan peak in 1939 is interrupted by the Second World War. After escaping from a British internment camp in India and many other adventures, he finds himself in Tibet where he befriends the Dalai Lama, gaining maturity and humility. However, turbulent times lie ahead. This movie is based on a true story.


The Beach (2000)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel York, Patcharawan Patarakijjanon, Virginie Ledoyen

An adaptation of Alex Garland's acclaimed novel, “The Beach” tells the story of an American, Richard, who is backpacking through Asia. While in Bangkok, Richard meets a mad Scotsman who gives him a crude map to a place in the Gulf of Thailand that he claims is paradise on earth: beautiful, unspoiled, and uninhabited. For lack of anything better to do, Richard and his travel companions locate the spot after a dangerous and taxing journey, discovering that a large group of fellow travellers have already dug themselves in, establishing a community with the same social evils that Richard was hoping to leave behind.


The Bucket List (2007)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Beverly Todd

Edward Cole is a corporate billionaire who is currently sharing a hospital room with blue-collar mechanic Carter Chambers. Though initially the pair seems to have nothing in common, conversation gradually reveals that both men have a long list of goals they wish to accomplish before they kick the bucket, and an unrealized desire to discover what kind of men they really are. In order to live their lives to the absolute fullest, Edward and Carter will have to make a break for it and do their best to fit a lifetime of experiences into their last remaining days while forging an unlikely, but truly remarkable, friendship.


The Trip to Italy (2014)

Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rosie Fellner, Claire Keelan

Michael Winterbottom's largely improvised 2010 film, “The Trip” takes comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (or semi-fictionalized versions thereof) on a restaurant tour around northern England. In this witty and incisive follow-up, Winterbottom reunites the pair for a new culinary road trip, retracing the steps of the Romantic poets' grand tour of Italy and indulging in some sparkling banter and impersonation-offs. The characters enjoy mouth-watering meals in gorgeous settings from Liguria to Capri while riffing on subjects as varied as Batman's vocal register, the artistic merits of "Jagged Little Pill," and, of course, the virtue of sequels.


The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

Starring: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Michelle Nolden

A Chicago librarian suffers from a rare genetic disorder that sends him hurtling through time whenever he is under extreme duress; despite the fact that he vanishes at inordinately frequent and lengthy intervals, he attempts to build a stable future with the beautiful young heiress he loves. Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams star in this dramatic fantasy, which is directed by Robert Schwentke and based on the best-selling book by author Audrey Niffenegger.


Lost in Translation (2003)

Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, Akiko Takeshita, Catherine Lambert

Bob Harris is a well-known American actor whose career has gone into a tailspin; needing work, he takes a very large fee to appear in a commercial for Japanese whiskey to be shot in Tokyo. Feeling no small degree of culture shock in Japan, Bob spends most of his non-working hours at his hotel, where he meets Charlotte with whom he shares much bemusement and confusion over the sights and sounds of Tokyo. ‘Lost in Translation’ is a comedy drama that tells a story of love and friendship blooming under unlikely circumstances, while also taking viewers on a whirlwind tour of contemporary Japan.


The Way (2011)

Starring: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen

“The Way” is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends, and the challenges we face while navigating this ever changing and complicated world. Martin Sheen plays Tom, an irascible American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son (played by Emilio Estevez), killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago, also known as “The Way of Saint James.” Rather than return home, Tom decides embark on the historical pilgrimage to honour his son's desire to finish the journey. What Tom doesn't plan on, is the profound impact the journey will have on him.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

Starring: Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of British retirees who decide to "outsource" their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.

Satisfy the Itch to Travel in the Comfort of Your Home

The world is going to look like a very different place after lockdown. Even when the restrictions on going outside have been lifted, restrictions on international travel are likely to persist for many months. But just because it may be a year or more before you can explore a foreign destination with your eyes, doesn’t mean you can’t travel the world in your imagination, mind, and heart. Here are a few ways to satisfy the itch to travel in the comfort of your own home….


Read a book inspired by travel

One of the most evocative ways to experience a different city, country, and culture is through the inspired words of the people who have visited or lived there. The best travel books don’t talk about travel for the sake of travel (although there are some good ones out there); rather they create a textured, subjective impression of a place using storylines, compelling exposition, and characters to allow us to feel the soul of that place. For this reason, reading a well-written book set in India, for example, can give you an extraordinarily vivid impression of the country. Here are some excellent books inspired by travel (all available from Amazon)…

• ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho
• ‘The Rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald
• ‘Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes and other Travel Writings’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
• ‘A Moveable Feast’ (Lonely Planet), edited by Don George
• ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts
• ‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain de Botton
• The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca’ by Tahir Shah
• ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac
• ‘In A Sunburned Country’ by Bill Bryson
• ‘Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to The World of Food and the People Who Cook’ by Anthony Bourdain
• ‘Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road’ by Kate Harris
• ‘The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon’ by David Grann

Read our previous blog “Explore the World with these 12 Books that Inspire Travel

Watch a foreign movie

Second best to reading books inspired by travel (in our humble opinion) is watching movies inspired by travel! With your passport temporarily on lockdown along with you, binging on foreign films is a great way to expose yourself to the scenery, cultures, customs, and even languages of the places you’d love to travel to (and plan to travel to once this is all over). Netflix is a good place to start but there are many other streaming services with added variety, including Showmax, Amazon, and Apple TV, to name but a few.

Some excellent travel movies, or movies set in exotic destinations, include:

• ‘Romancing the Stone’ (1984)
• ‘Out of Africa’ (1985)
• ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ (1994)
• ‘Before Sunrise’ (1995)
• ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ (1999)
• ‘Amélie’ (2001)
• ‘Lost in Translation’ (2003)
• ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ (2004)
• ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ (2007)
• ‘Vicky, Christina, Barcelona’ (2008)
• ‘Up’ (2009)
• ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (2010)
• ‘Midnight in Paris’ (2011)
• ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ (2012)
• ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ (2013)
• ‘Wild’ (2014)
• ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (2017)
• ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018)
• ‘The Farewell’ (2019)


Learn a new language

Haven’t you always wanted to speak Spanish? Don’t you just love the way those rrrrs roll off the tongue? Or how about French, the language of love? Or perhaps your Norwegian heritage and conviction that one day you’ll travel there and see the Northern Lights has convinced you to learn the lingo. Whatever your reason and whichever language you’ve flirted with in the past, you finally have the time and space to dedicate to mastering it.

You don’t have to become fluent; even learning a few key phrases can stand you in good stead when you eventually get to the country of your choice. There are dozens of language apps and online courses, such as Duolingo, Babbel, and Busuu. If you prefer more formal tuition, you can sign up with a language school like Berlitz, Verbling, and FluentU or complete a beginner’s course on The Great Courses Plus. When you’re ready to practice what you’ve learned on a native speaker of your chosen language (while also helping them to improve their English), try the Tandem, HelloTalk, or Bilingua app.


Whip up something exotic

Food offers a window – a floor-to-ceiling window – on culture, which is why exploring local cuisine is such a fundamental aspect of travel. It can be a little hit-and-miss if you’re unaccustomed to exotic spices and spiciness but discovering a dish you really enjoy will send you home with a lifelong love and hankering for that meal. So, instead of the usual South African and western dishes you cook (or order in) all week long, how about mixing it up with one foreign food night a week?

Take your family to Italy, Greece, India, Japan, Thailand, Peru, Turkey, or Ethiopia by creating an assortment of traditional dishes from recipes borrowed from these cultures. For recipes from around the world, try the websites Curious Cuisinere, allrecipes.com, or the Food Network Kitchen. Alternatively (or additionally) try the Masterclass series for online cooking classes from celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsay.


Listen to music from around the world

Another arena in which the culture of a country really sings is, well, its music! Playing the traditional and contemporary music of the country you wish to visit really evokes that place’s spirit and, thanks to the limitless coffers of the Internet, you can go anywhere really! For foreign artists, you can perform quick searches on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, or even YouTube. Spotify even ha a Top 50 artists/songs by country feature so you can listen to what’s popular in countries all around the world. This is a great one to combine with “foreign food night.” There’s nothing like a bit of Andrea Bocelli while you tuck into a fusilli puttanesca.

Five Ways to Stay Fit During in Lockdown

The running joke is that we’re all going to emerge from lockdown and self-isolation a good 10 kg heavier (and quite potentially alcoholics too). But with the amount of work there is to do around the house and the number and variety of online dance, yoga, aerobic, and fitness classes – many of which are currently being offered for free – there’s absolutely no reason why the only exercise you get during this period is opening a jar of pickles. You can emerge from your chrysalis a ripped warrior or Amazon! Here are five ways you can stay fit during lockdown….


Get ripped with a YouTube fitness video

Just type “fitness classes” into YouTube’s search bar and you’ll be staggered by the incredible number there are on offer. Most are “sneak peak” clips by beefy dudes and ropey-muscled women showing you the various exercises you can do to look as half-starved as them with the goal of directing you to their websites to pay for their full packages. But if you know where to look, there are reams and reams of free fitness videos ranging in length from 15 minutes to a full hour, which you can perform in your bedroom, garage, living room floor, or even garden. The best way to avoid getting laughed at by family members is to force them to do it with you (try laughing when you have sweat pouring in to your eyes.)

Here are some great videos to try:

Beginner Step Aerobics Fitness Cardio, Jenny Ford (30 minutes)
High Intensity Step Cardio Class (60 minutes)
15-Minute Beginner's At-Home Cardio Workout
Aerobics workout exercise | aerobics class for beginner | cardio workout | 2018 (20 minutes)
45 minute Aerobics Class - 01 for the Beginner HD


Learn to salsa/hip-hop/highlands dance with an online dance class

Dazzle your friends and family the next time you hit the dance floor with the sexy, sultry moves you learned during isolation, courtesy of classes offered by online schools and YouTube tutorials. Just about every form of dance is covered, from hip-hop and Highland dancing to Bollywood and ballet. You can become proficient in one or explore them all!

Ailey Extension: is a great place to start for instruction in hip-hop, Zumba, West African dance, and more. Ailey also offers free daily online classes (in real time) so check out the website for the schedule. 305 Fitness: is another one to try, offering dance cardio fitness classes that feel like 80s-style aerobic workouts. Then, there are scores of YouTube tutorials to explore (again, get the family involved!)

15-Minute Bounce-Back Cardio Dance Workout
30-Minute Cardio Latin Dance Workout
Contemporary Dance Class I Warmup & Choreography (40 minutes)
Home Workout: 20 minute Zumba Class
Beginners Dance Tutorial, Afrobeats (15 minutes)


Roll up those sleeves and do a little gardening

Now’s the perfect time to purge the garden of all its refuse (dead leaves, twigs, weeds, etc.), clip back the vegetation, and get it looking clean and beautiful right in time for autumn to dump its leaves all over the yard again. Never mind that: gardening is great whole-body exercise dosed with nature, fresh air, and sunshine, all of which are in painfully short supply at the moment.

If you don’t have a garden, redirect that energy towards whatever outdoor space you have, be it a balcony, patio, or paved yard – give it a clean and decorate it by stringing up fairy lights and lanterns or adding some potted plants. If you don’t have an outdoor space at all, turn your windowsills into mini-jungles or herbariums with potted plants that like the shade.

Spring clean your home

Another whole-body exercise – and one with the fabulous by-product of a sparkling home – is spring-cleaning. You’ve finally got the time for it, now to get to it with gusto! Leave no carpet un-vacuumed-under, no drawer disinterred and sorted through, and no cupboard undusted (in those hard-to-reach places). Start at one end of the home and wipe, dust, disinfect, and vacuum, your way to the other. Put the curtains in the wash, scrub the hall carpets, wipe down the walls, and turn the mattresses…and do it all to your favourite tunes.

Also consider sorting through your home’s contents and your wardrobe’s clothing, throwing out or donating the items you’ve been saving for those “just-in-case” occasions, which, 12 years later, are yet to arise. In the immortal words of Marie Kondo: “If it doesn’t serve purpose or bring you pleasure, get rid of it.”


Restore your zen, balance, and inner peace with an online yoga class

No matter how safely stowed away your family is at present, what’s going on in the world is tremendously worrying, causing much stress and anxiety. Thank goodness for yoga! Yoga is one of those fabulous fitness forms that you can do absolutely anywhere: all you need is a mat to lie on and the right instruction (and if you’ve done that spring cleaning we just recommended, you don’t even need the mat). Once again, YouTube comes to the rescue with virtually bottomless coffers of instructional video tutorials. Here are some of the better ones we can recommend:

Yoga Works is offering free live online classes with Steven Heyman, who invites the public to join in various yoga practices that are inclusive, fun, and accessible.
Yoga with Adriene for mindful yoga practice to assist you in bringing energy to the body and peace of presence to your mind.
20 Minute Everyday Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class
Yoga for Weight Loss: Complete beginners fat burning workout at home

Transform Your Home Isolation into a Staycation

One of travel’s greatest allures is a change of scenery…to surround oneself with sights, people, foods, cultures, and experiences that are totally different to what we are exposed to at home. However, with COVID-19 condemning us not only to our cities but to the insides of our homes, the itch to experience the exotic will simply need to remain unscratched, or will it? With a little ingenuity, online ordering, and a fresh perspective, it doesn’t have to. Why not curate your very own change in scenery – even a little upgrade – at home? You know what they say about that: a change is as good as a holiday!

Here are a few ways you can convert your home isolation into a staycation.


Flip the script

How long has your home been laid out the way it is currently? Years? Well, with no-where to explore but the well-trodden hallways of your home, why not spend some time changing things around? Perhaps push your bed against a different wall and rearrange the rest of the bedroom furniture around it. Do the same with the living room couches, the office, and the kids’ rooms. You could even paint a feature wall, put up jungle patterned wallpaper, or change the room’s theme entirely. Give your eyes and mind a break from the way things have been for ages – the monotony of the same scenery – and switch things up a bit.


Turn your outdoor space into a getaway destination

Being cooped up at home is very likely, by now, showing up the cracks in our relationships and personalities. The cure to cabin fever may seem out of reach but it doesn’t have to be. You can get that fresh air, sunshine, and even a little nature in your life by transforming your outdoor space, whether it’s a large garden, medium-sized patio, or tiny balcony, into a resort-worthy getaway.

For starters, give the space a thorough clean. Mow, crop, and pull out all the dead leaves, weeds, and other garden debris; clean the pool or, if you don’t have one, order an inflatable splash pool online (why not?); throw out any unused, weather-beaten furniture that’s beyond redemption; and sweep and scrub your patio/balcony until it sparkles (the exercise out in the open will likely do you a lot of good).

Then, imagine your yard is the island of Koh Pha Ngan during a full moon party and start decorating. String up fairy lights and paper lanterns, light up a few tiki torches, and throw down some rugs and mats (Takealot, eBay, and Amazon are your friends). You could also hang up canvas or tent material to create a cosy sheltered area and fill it with scatter cushions for that sexy, Bohemian vibe. Go crazy with potted plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables and if you’re really crafty, you could order in some wooden palettes and make your own garden furniture from scratch.

By using your imagination, a bit of elbow grease, and repurposing odds and ends around the house, you can totally transform your outdoor space into a holiday resort worthy of lounging and sipping cocktails in.


Have a spa day

Spruce your bedroom, bathroom, or lounge up to feel like a professional spa and treat yourself to a few hours or even a whole day of serious pampering. Put on a spa soundtrack (there are lots to choose from on YouTube), burn some scented candles or oils, and take a long luxurious soak in the bath before lathering on those delicious-smelling bath products you got for Christmas but have been saving for a special occasion. That special occasion has arrived by the way and it’s called the apocalypse.

Wear a fluffy bathrobe and slippers all day, slap on a facial mask (the clay kind), give yourself a manicure and a pedicure, and scrub, pluck, and groom yourself flawless – men and women. You could even convince your partner to give you a massage, just make sure that you snore a little during your back rub for that authentic spa experience.


Breathe a little luxury into your home

Since you aren’t going out and spending all that money on the usual dinners, theatres, and holiday, now’s the time to invest in your home, spruce it up a bit, and add a few touches of luxury. How about dressing up your bed in some fresh, Egyptian cotton linen, a new mattress pad, or even a new mattress? How about changing the theme of your bathroom to something a little more luxurious and high end – perhaps a new set of towels, some delicious scented candles, designer soaps and fragrances, and a hanging plant installation to add a flash of colour and life. As for your kitchen: perhaps now is the time to clear out all the clutter you’ve inherited from three or more family members and invest in a sophisticated set of pots, pans, knives, and more.


Eat and drink like you’re on holiday

Now that we all have a little more time on our hands, let that translate into the freedom to experiment with food and drink. Since you can’t physically travel at the moment, allow your senses to explore the world of gastronomy with a themed dinner night in Italy, Mexico, India, Peru, France, Greece, or wherever you desire. You can either order takeout or Google some recipes and learn to cook something exotic, a little further outside of your comfort zone. You can be equally as experimental with your cocktails (here’s hoping you stocked up before lockdown!) And, when the ban on liquor lifts, you can even try wine from different countries, like Spain, Italy, France, South America, and Australia. You are limited only by imagination.

Ideas for the year

Even when lockdown lifts (if it’s not extended), South Africans will likely still need to practice extreme caution in going out again. Travelling overseas for “non-essential” reasons is also very likely many months away from being a reality so these ideas are worth considering over the course of however long it takes society to settle and get back to normal. In the meantime, we wish you all a pleasant, healthy, and even rejuvenating “staycation”.

Explore the World with these 12 Books that Inspire Travel


‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho

This story, dazzling in its simplicity and wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an Alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way but what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a meditation on the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is art eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

Buy it on Amazon


‘The Rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald

"The book is like a dream you want to last forever" - Roberta Silman, The New York Times Book Review

The Rings of Saturn―with its curious archive of photographs―records a walking tour of the eastern coast of England. A few of the things which cross the path and mind of its narrator (who both is and is not Sebald) are lonely eccentrics, Sir Thomas Browne’s skull, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, recession-hit seaside towns, wooded hills, Joseph Conrad, Rembrandt’s "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, the massive bombings of WWII, the dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, and the silk industry in Norwich.

Buy it on Amazon


‘Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes and other Travel Writings’ by Robert Louis Stevenson

Temperament and poor health motivated Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish novelist and travel writer, most noted for ‘Treasure Island,’ ‘Kidnapped,’ and ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’) to travel widely throughout his short life. This collection presents some of his finest travel writing, starting with ‘An Inland Voyage.’ This 1878 chronicle of a canoe journey through Belgium and France charmingly captures the European villages and townspeople of a bygone era. Other selections include ‘Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes,’ a humorous account of a mountain trek, and ‘Forest Notes,’ a meditation on nature based on visits to the Forest of Fontainebleau near Paris and adjacent artists' colonies. These early writings offer captivating insights into Stevenson's bohemian nature and the wanderlust that sent him from his native Scotland to journeys around the world.

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‘A Moveable Feast’ (Lonely Planet), edited by Don George

From bat on the island of Fais, chicken on a Russian train, and barbecue in the American heartland to mutton in Mongolia, couscous in Morocco, and tacos in Tijuana - on the road, food nourishes us not only physically, but intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually too. It can be a gift that enables a traveller to survive, a doorway into the heart of a tribe, or a thread that weaves an indelible tie; it can be awful or ambrosial - and sometimes both at the same time. Celebrate the riches and revelations of food with this 38-course feast of true tales set around the world. ‘A Moveable Feast’ features stories by Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, Mark Kurlansky, Matt Preston, Simon Winchester, Stefan Gates, David Lebovitz, Matthew Fort, Tim Cahill, Jan Morris and Pico Iyer, edited by Don George.

Buy it on Amazon


‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts

"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. ‘Shantaram’ is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society to seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere. Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas, this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart.

Buy it on Amazon


‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain de Botton

Aside from love, few activities seem to promise us as much happiness as going traveling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs, and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel, few people seem to talk about why we should go and how we can become more fulfilled by doing so. In ‘The Art of Travel,’ essayist Alain de Botton reflects on the philosophical dimensions of travel: he sees travel as a reflection of the human search for happiness and wonders how and why people should travel, not merely where.

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The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca’ by Tahir Shah

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader. With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. Endlessly enthralling, ‘The Caliph’s House’ charts a year in the life of one family who takes a tremendous gamble.

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‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac

Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty, a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs, and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy, and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, ‘On the Road’ is the book that launched the beat generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.

Buy it on Amazon


‘In A Sunburned Country’ by Bill Bryson (or anything by Bill Bryson!)

Bill Bryson’s previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller ‘A Walk in the Woods.’ ‘A Sunburned Country’ is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humour, wonder, and unflagging curiosity. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

Buy it on Amazon


‘Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to The World of Food and the People Who Cook’ by Anthony Bourdain

Tracking his own strange and unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globe-travelling professional eater and drinker, Anthony Bourdain compares and contrasts what he's seen and what he's seeing, pausing along the way for a series of confessions, rants, investigations, and interrogations of some of the most controversial figures in food. And always he returns to the question: 'Why cook?' Or the harder one to answer: 'Why cook well?' Beginning with a secret and highly illegal after-hours gathering of powerful chefs, which he compares to a mafia summit, Bourdain, in his distinctive, no holds barred style, cuts to the bone on every subject he tackles.

Buy it on Amazon


‘Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road’ by Kate Harris

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she craved—to be an explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician—had gone extinct. From what she could tell of the world from small-town Ontario, the likes of Marco Polo and Magellan had mapped the whole earth; there was nothing left to be discovered. Looking beyond this planet, she decided to become a scientist and go to Mars. In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Harris set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Pedalling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines.

Buy it on Amazon


‘The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon’ by David Grann

In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.” In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.

Buy it on Amazon

Get Away to Dwarskersbos

Escape the madness of the city (and COVID-19 lockdown once its over) and spend a blissful holiday in Dwarskersbos on the West Coast

We have always loved Dwarskersbos for its blissful isolation from the congestion, chaos, and general hustle and bustle of the Cape. When we’ve needed an escape and a weekend filled with nothing more than long mornings lying in bed, long walks on white sand beaches, and long evenings of wine and braai on the patio, Dwarskersbos has been our favourite destination.

Now, with the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the panic that is sweeping not just the country but also the world, everyone seems to be cancelling their holidays, stocking up on supplies, and hunkering down at home. The beauty of Dwarskersbos, however, is that it is so isolated and so remote that you can spend a weekend, week, or even several weeks here are barely come in contact with other people. And so, for those who want to put the school holidays (and probable cancellation of school, meetings, work, etc.) to the excellent use of going on holiday, we wanted to sing the praises of Dwarskersbos as a destination.


Where is Dwarskersbos?

The charming Dwarskersbos is a quaint and remote West Coast seaside community consisting of a clutch of humble residential homes and holiday cottages bordered by the white sand Dolfynstrand (Dolphin Beach) and Atlantic Ocean, and embraced by vast tracts of low-lying marine scrub. The historic fishing community is located an approximate 10-15 minutes’ drive north from the larger (but only slightly so) West Coast town of Velddrif, where most of the area’s shops, hotels, restaurants, and bars are concentrated. From Cape Town, Dwarskersbos is just under two hours’ drive away, past the spectacularly beautiful West Coast National Park and the busier seaside resort of Langebaan.


What’s the big deal about Dwarskersbos?

That’s just it, really. Dwarskersbos is so under-appreciated as a holiday destination that even in the throes of summer there are relatively few tourists here. And yet, the area has it all: nature, tranquillity, pristine beaches for miles, rich birdlife, and access to shops, restaurants, bars, West Coast culture, and delicious, abundant, and affordable sea food.

At this present moment, however – at a time when South Africa is poised for the outbreak of a respiratory virus that is causing panic around the world - one of Dwarskersbos’ greatest draw cards is its remoteness and isolation from the crowds of the city and the more popular weekend/holiday destinations. You can spend several days in Dwarskersbos and never come within 10 metres of another living soul. That’s not to say that this seaside community is deserted or some kind of ghost town…rather, residents enjoy sheltered, tranquil lives, venturing out for walks, to enjoy nature, or pot about their gardens.

In other words: you won’t be rubbing shoulders with (or contracting coronavirus from) anyone!


Where to stay?

dk villas’ cosy and charming beach cottage at Skilliepark, of course! This two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment is positioned a stone’s throw from Dolfynstrand and from its second floor balcony, guests can enjoy gorgeous views of the western horizon and its blood-red sunsets. The balcony itself features an indoor braai, eight-seater table, and wrap-around windows so that, irrespective of the weather, the beauty of Dwarskersbos can be admired.

Inside, the cottage is decidedly beach-themed, the design and décor of which has been executed with an impeccable standard of chicness, attention to detail, and concern for function, comfort, space usage, and aesthetics. The entrance leads into an open plan double volume living room and fully kitted-out kitchen that includes high-end appliances, a coffee and tea-making station, as well as heaps of storage space.

dk villas’ beach cottage at Skilliepark has two bedrooms, both with queen-size beds and one with an open plan en-suite bathroom with a bath. The apartment is flush with everything one could possibly want and need to enjoy a luxurious stay in Dwarskersbos, including unlimited Wi-Fi, flat screen TV with DSTV, Egyptian cotton towels and sheets, bird and wildlife reference books, a garage, and washing machine and dryer.


Things to do in Dwarskersbos

As we’ve mentioned, Dwarskersbos’ greatest allure is its tranquillity and remoteness. You can spend day after day walking through nature and up and down the beach and seldom encounter another soul, which is absolutely perfect considering the possible dangers of being in close proximity with anyone these days. In fact, most of Dwarskersbos’ diversions hardly require you to come within several metres of anyone else so you, your partner, and/or your family can remain safe and protected during your holiday stay. Here are some suggestions….

Dolfynstrand

Dolfynstrand is a broad and mostly deserted white sand beach located a two-minute walk from dk villas’ Skilliepark beach cottage. Here, there are kilometres of pristine beach to stroll upon or, alternatively, you can take along umbrellas, towels, and a picnic for a family outing or a romantic date with a loved one.

Nature & wildlife

The West Coast carries a formidable reputation for its fauna and flora. Here, there are a multitude of nature reserves to explore, including the West Coast National Park, Rocherpan Nature Reserve, and Bird Island Nature Reserve in Lambert’s Bay. Once again, if you stay in your car and picnic away from any other visitors, a day spent at either of these reserves should be perfectly safe. Just to the south of Dwarskersbos, you’ll find the Berg River estuary, which is nationally held in high regard for it birdwatching.

For more detailed information, read our blog on things to do and see in Dwarskersbos. Please do just be careful to avoid large crowds and wash your hands regularly.


Eating out

The current climate isn’t exactly favourable for dining out – and we’re sorry to harp on about COVID-19 but safety is paramount. What we recommend is that you purchase enough groceries to cater for your stay and enjoy the comprehensive facilities on offer at dk villas’ beach cottage. As previously mentioned, the open-plan kitchen is fully kitted out with every appliance, utensil, pot, and tool you could possibly need to prepare full meals for the family. Additionally, the outdoor braai and veranda area are perfect for lengthy afternoons and evening entertainment.

If you do wish to venture out for a meal, the remoteness of Dwarskersbos probably makes it safer to seek out a meal than most places. For a hearty plate of food, try the See Kaia (+27 (0) 83 276 3115 or +27 (0) 71 742 8593), which serves unpretentious, rustic cuisine like pizzas, burgers, toasted sandwiches, and breakfasts. Slightly further afield, in Velddrif and Port Owen, you’ll find a much greater diversity of restaurants, pubs, and casual eateries, such as Russells on the Port (+27 (0) 22 783 0158), Charlie’s Brewhouse (+27 (0) 22 783 0448), Ek en Djy Vissery (+27 (0) 82 781 3878), Lavender & Lime Coffee Shop (+27 (0) 78 203 8374), and many more.

For more information on these places, check out our blog about places to eat in and around Dwarskersbos!


Staying safe

The novel COVID-19 coronavirus has only recently made its way to South African shores but if we are to avoid the scale of explosive outbreak that countries such as China, Iran, and Italy have witnessed, it is paramount that we protect ourselves. The best way to do that is to isolate yourself from other people. Considering the remoteness, tranquillity, and isolation that beautiful Dwarskersbos offers, there are few more appropriate and safe places to go on holiday, which you’re going to want to do after two weeks of bored kids.

We’d love to host you (safely) in our beach cottage.

For more information on our Skilliepark property or to make a booking, go to www.dkvillas.co.za, email info@dkvillas.co.za, or call Johann de Kock on +27 (0)82 922 0775.

Exploring the Constantia Wine Route And all there is to see, smell, taste, and experience!

The history of the Constantia wine route is so intimately linked with that of the Cape that one cannot tell the story of the one without unintentionally accounting for the other. Constantia was the name of a vast property that carpeted much of the Constantia Valley as we know it today, extending all the way to Steenberg in Tokai. In 1685, this property was given to Simon van der Stel, the VOC (Dutch East India Company) Governor of the Cape of Good Hope. Over the ensuing decades, the property was broken up into the smaller estates of Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, and Bergvliet, and grape farming took a firm foothold in the lush valley. All these centuries later, there are no less than 10 wine producing estates here, all of which contribute enormously to the rich fabric of the South African wine industry and that, when explored, offer an unforgettable food, wine, cultural, and historic experience. Here’s a peek at what there is to do – as well as a few wine farm recommendations - in the beautiful Constantia Wine Valley…


Wine tasting, naturally

Located on the cool ocean-facing slopes of the Constantiaberg in fecund, iron-rich soils of decomposed granite, Constantia’s vineyards are world-renowned for the quality of the wines they produce, particularly Sauvignon Blanc and other French varietals and blends. And so, any foray into the Constantia Wine Valley deserves a stop at a handful of estates for a wine tasting!

Try: Buitenverwachting (www.buitenverwachting.com) - a portion of the original Constantia Estate owned by Governor Simon van der Stel, this 150-hectare wine estate produces internationally acclaimed wines of great complexity with unique aromatic profiles.

Also: Eagle’s Nest (www.eaglesnestwines.com) - for 195 per person, you can take your wine tasting experience to a whole new level with a VIP wine tasting and guided walking tour in the vineyards (pre-booking is essential).

And definitely: Steenberg Vineyard (www.steenbergfarm.com) - located slightly further afield in Tokai, Steenberg routinely produces beautiful wines of an extraordinary calibre, with bottles so littered with shiny awards they look a little like Christmas trees!


Food, glorious food

What is wine without food? No visit to the Constantia Wine Route is complete without a fine dining (or casual fine dining) experience at one of its gorgeous wine estates. Most of the valley’s 10 estates have restaurants well worth a visit, but here are our favourites….

Try: Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia (www.chefswarehouse.co.za) - Chefs Warehouse, which delivers a multi-course fine dining menu, is one of the country’s best restaurants and routinely appears in the Top 10 of the Mercedes-Benz Eat Out Awards.

Also: Constantia Glen (www.constantiaglen.com) - for a more casual, yet no less delicious dining experience, try Constantia Glen’s short but sweet menu. The views from the tasting room and restaurant are stunning and their mouth-watering flammkuchen (German flatbread pizzas) are delicious.

And definitely: La Colombe at Silvermist (www.lacolombe.co.za) – one of the country’s and, in fact, world’s best restaurants, La Colombe offers an innovative and out-of-this-world gastronomical experience that is pure food theatre and absolutely unforgettable.


History appreciation

The history of Constantia Valley dates back to the very origins of the Cape as a fresh food station for the Dutch East Indian Company ships that were making the perilous journey around the tip of Africa en route to India. With their original Cape Dutch architecture, antique furniture collections, and artworks, many of the wine estates in the valley are serve as reminders of the valley’s multi-century history.

Try: Groot Constantia (www.grootconstantia.co.za) - a portion of the original Constantia owned by Simon van der Stel, this regal estate was also the Commander’s home. Today, visitors are invited to explore its handsome collection of lovingly restored historic buildings, homesteads, and manor house.

Also: Steenberg Estate – Established in 1682 by the indomitable Catherina Ustings Ras from Lübeck, Germany who braved a treacherous ocean crossing and the unknowns of a new continent to establish a farm that is, today, loved for its outstanding food, wine, historic appeal, and hospitality.

And definitely: Klein Constantia (www.kleinconstantia.com) - set amidst ancient trees and lush greenery on the upper foothills of the Constantiaberg, this estate – also part of the original Constantia estate – was declared “one of the most mythical vineyards in the world” by the French Institute des Paysages et Architectures Viticoles (Wine Landscapes and Architecture).


Other attractions

With roots that extend back to 1685, Constantia Uitsig has a long and rich heritage, as well as a firm focus on the future in terms of sustainability. In addition to wine tasting and history, the estate boasts a Heritage Market, a quaint row of cottages featuring the finest artisanal craft producers in their respective fields, including Sushibox, Kirsten’s Kickass Ice-cream, Nest Deli, Kind Kitchen, and Aegir Breweries.

Silvermist Wine Estate is home to a series of ziplines and platforms managed by SA Forest Adventures (www.saforestadventures.co.za), an exhilarating and unforgettable way to experience the high forests and mountains of the Constantia Wine Valley.

Groot Constantia maintains an impressive wine and cultural history museum, allowing visitors a glimpse into the history of the valley and the Cape. It’s also an enchanting place to kick off the day before sitting down to a wine tasting in the Cloete Cellar and lunch at Jonkershuis Restaurant.

DK Villas’ Bird Lover’s Guide to the West Coast

The arid Cape West Coast may at first appear an inhospitable place for any wildlife to flourish but upon closer inspection, the region’s patchwork quilt of coastal fynbos, succulent Karoo, estuaries, lagoons, beaches, harbours, mountainous landscapes, and pristine wilderness areas supports a staggering diversity of both animals and birdlife. And it’s in pursuit of the latter that scores upon scores of birding enthusiasts travel from all over the Cape, country, continent, and even world to experience in the (flesh) feathers.

The Cape West Coast offers a variety of top birding destinations, with no less than seven Important Bird Areas (IBA’s) registered with BirdLife International. Put simply, it is a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to hundreds of species of birds, many of which are endemic or endangered or incredibly rare to sight. Even if you aren’t a birdwatcher, the West Coast’s rich diversity of colourful sunbirds, soaring raptors, and quirky waders might just make a convert out of you.

Here’s a guide for bird lovers visiting our glorious part of the world….

Lower Berg River Wetlands

The Lower Berg River Wetlands around Velddrif (10 to 15 minutes drive south from DK Villas’ beach cottage in Dwarskersbos) is considered a top birding destination along the Cape West Coast. Here, tidal mudflats classified as an Important Bird Area IBA SA 104 are home to an impressive 127 water birds and 93 terrestrial species, of which 25 are of national importance and at least 5 Red Data listed species. The Lower Berg River also features diverse habitats from the afore-mentioned mudflats to salt pans and a saltwater estuary. Rarities found in the area in the past include the black-tailed and Hudsonian godwit, little blue heron, common redshank, and lesser yellowlegs.


Olifants River estuary

Located about an hour’s drive north of the bird colony at Lamberts Bay, lies the Olifants River estuary, one of only four perennial estuaries on the West Coast, which drains the second largest catchment area in South Africa. 127 Bird species have been recorded in the Olifants River estuary with birdwatchers flocking here to witness its variety of rare, threatened species, from lesser and greater flamingos to Caspian terns, African black oystercatchers, and African marsh and black harriers. In addition, great white pelicans from Dassen Island breeding grounds make use of the estuary as a key foraging and roosting area during the non-breeding season.


Bird Island at Lambert’s Bay

The staggering Cape gannet colony of the Bird Island Nature Reserves lies a short 100 m off the shore of Lambert’s Bay, an hour and 15 minutes’ drive Dwarskersbos. Here, visitors are treated to the rare opportunity to see (and, unfortunately, smell) the beautiful blue-eyed and yellow-headed Cape gannets, as well as many other marine bird species, up close and personal. Cape fur seals can be seen sunning themselves on the island’s rocks. The three-hectare island is one of only six breeding grounds in the world for this particular bird species and it is easily accessible to the public. Please do note that there is currently scheduled maintenance work being done on the Bird Island Nature Reserve’s bird hide, which will be reopening again on 13th March 2020.


Cederberg Wilderness Area

Considered one of the best examples of the Cape Fold Mountains, the Cederberg is one of the precious few places on Earth where Fynbos is the reigning floral kingdom. It’s a dramatic landscape of grand scale in both of the axes, with vast plains and boulder-strewn slopes soaring skywards into craggy cliff-faces and rocky pinnacles. Birdwatchers flock here to observe the bird species that are endemic to this biome, such as Cape sugarbirds, orange-breasted sunbirds, and Cape siskin. The area is also home to yellow bishop, Karoo scrub-robin, Karoo prinia, Cape robin-thrush, Cape bunting, and several nesting pairs of Verreaux’s eagles, enormous black raptors that surf the daytime thermals.


West Coast National Park

Sprawling to the south of the coastal town of Langebaan, an approximate 45-minutes’ drive from Dwarskersbos in the north, you’ll discover the West Coast National Park, which pristinely preserves the indigenous flora and fauna of the area. The reserve is sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and R27 coastal highway to the east and is known and loved for its spectacular display of wild flowers in spring, gorgeous landscapes, array of wildlife, and diversity of birdlife. In late spring, large numbers of Palaearctic migrants arrive in the reserve and in summer the park transforms into a prime site for waders, rarities of which include common redshank, Eurasian curlew, broad-billed sandpiper, Terek sandpiper, great knot, and lesser sand plover.


Rocherpan Nature Reserve

Rocherpan is a coastal nature reserve teeming with birds and colourful wildflowers, particularly in the spring. Part of the Cape Nature Group, the 930-hectare reserve lies 10 km north of Dwarskersbos and consists largely of a seasonal vlei that is usually dry between March and June. During winter, however, it receives the water it needs to host a riveting array of fauna, flora, and birdlife – up to 183 different species thereof! African purple swamphen, black crowned night heron, Cape shoveller, greater flamingo, glossy ibis, and sandwich tern are just a few of the many common, resident species of birds visitors can hope to spot here.


Birdwatching the Cape West Coast

It’s owing to the diversity of landscapes along the Cape West Coast that such an incredible celebration of birdlife can be found here. The coastal areas, lagoons, and beaches are home to marine birds, waders, and even the occasional rare migrant; while the coastal fynbos and semi-arid Karoo biomes support a plethora of smaller bird species and larger raptors. And we here at dk villas encourage you to explore it all!

Just ask us

For more information on Dwarskersbos and its surrounding activities, places to see, restaurants at which to eat, and things to do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Johann de Kock at info@dkvillas.co.za.

Time for School Holidays! Here are a Few Fun, Family-Friendly Ideas for Exploring Cape Town


The school holidays are upon us and with the long days of blissful freedom comes the inevitable whine of kids: “I’m booooored!” Thankfully, there is no shortage of fun, family-friendly activities in Cape Town – activities that are just as engaging for mom and dad as they are for the little ones! Here are a few of our recommendations for families visiting Cape Town….



Experience the Art of “Paintertainment” with Art Jamming

www.artjamming.co.za

Unleash your inner Picasso, Rembrandt, or even Andy Warhol with Art Jamming; a fun, engaging, and wholly unique activity that is guaranteed to put your artistic talent to the test. They supply the tools (canvases of varying sizes, a spectrum of paint colours, and brushes) and you just let loose your creativity. Art Jamming allows each and every participant to create his or her masterpiece in an interactive environment and have enormous fun in the process. There are two studios in Cape Town: (1) Shop G26 Willowbridge, Carl Cronje Ave, Tygervalley, Bellville and above Toy Kingdom at the V & A Waterfront.


Explore Mother City Icon, Table Mountain

www.tablemountain.net

Take the kids on an exhilarating pilgrimage to the top of Cape Town’s iconic mountain. Once at the top, you could spend hours admiring the incredible city, ocean, and peninsula views and wandering the network of pathways that wind around the mountain’s fynbos-carpeted summit. Look out for colourful agama lizards and sunbathing rock hyraxes (known locally as “dassies” – small, rabbit-like animals with sombre faces). You can take a picnic with you or, alternatively, stop at the Table Mountain Café for a family-friendly lunch.


Get Your Hands Dirty at The Clay Café in Hout Bay

www.claycafe.co.za

Who doesn’t love using their hands to make things? The Clay Café in Hout Bay is all about crafting something unique, which is then fired and painted so that you can take your creation home with you to use and admire. Whether you want to make a vase, a mug, a plate, or even just something decorative, the Clay Café provides families with the guidance they need to create something meaningful. They even have a decent (and licensed) on-site restaurant and a huge garden for kids to play in.

Address: 4080 Main Road, Hout Bay


Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

Teaching kids to take pleasure in helping those less fortunate than ourselves is an incredibly important lesson and what better classroom could there be than an animal shelter? There are several – the SPCA, DARG, F.A.L.L.E.N Angels, and Uitsig Animal Rescue - all over Cape Town and they readily accept help from volunteers to walk the dogs, help kittens become accustomed to loving contact, groom horses, clean cages, and more. Volunteers get the pleasure of interacting with the animals and knowing that their time and energy is helping them live more comfortable, love-filled lives.


Hike Up Lion’s Head

Right next door to Table Mountain is another of Cape Town’s iconic mountains: Lion’s Head. There is a short 1-2-long hike to the top, the summit of which reveals panoramic views of the city, peninsula mountains, and up the West Coast of the subcontinent. The hike is extremely popular for people of all ages and fitness levels and families with clutches of small children are a dime a dozen along the route. Just keep a sharp eye on your little ones because there are some steep drop-offs and, in parts, hair-raising climbing to be done.


Kenilworth Go-Karting

www.karting.co.za

The need for speed is an affliction that hits hard during childhood and while it might fade with age, it only takes one lap in a go-kart at the Kenilworth racetrack to bring it screaming back to life. A ticket gets racers 10 laps around the 310-meter course and a lifetime of adoration from your kids (and husband). There are lightweight 140cc vehicles and a junior track specifically for younger racers (shorter than 1.5 meters) so you can rest assured that they’ll be safe.

Address: 10 Myhoff Road, Claremont, Cape Town


Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium

www.aquarium.co.za

Dive beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean at the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V & A Waterfront (without a wetsuit and without getting wet). Explore the enchantment of the kalaeidescopic life that thrives beneath the surface of the ocean embracing South Africa: an educational experience that thrills people of all ages. From sea horses and starfish to enormous marine fish and sharks, there are live exhibits to explore and even interactive experiences for the little ones.

Address: Dock Road, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town


Iziko Museum and Planetarium
www.iziko.org.za/museums/south-african-museum

Located on Queen Victoria Street in the heart of Cape Town, you’ll discover a cultural haven at which a family could easily spend an entire day: the Iziko Natural History Museum and Planetarium. The museum maintains a beguiling record of South African history from well before the arrival of the settlers until well after. There are life-like and life-sized replicas of dinosaurs and whales, which kids will love, and an extensive collection of Africa’s (taxidermied) birds and beasts. Attached to the museum is the Iziko Planetarium, which has just recently been revamped and updated. Here, visitors are invited to sit all the way back in their recliner seats and watch as a fascinating digital show about the stars, constellations, and universe unfurls on the darkened dome above.


Explore the Cape’s Natural Wonders at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch/

Located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch’s sweeping, emerald gardens are a colourful and audacious celebration of life. Visitors here can get to truly appreciate the majesty and diversity of the Cape floral kingdom by meandering on the network of pathways that lead through protected Fynbos, ancient trees, forests, edible food gardens, and more. When the kids get hungry, you can stop in at the Kirstenbosch Tea Room (ktr.co.za) for a lovely menu of family-friendly treats – they also prepare picnics while you wait, which you can take into the gardens to enjoy.

Address: Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town


Learn to Rock at the School of Rock Cape Town

www.locations.schoolofrock.com/claremont

If there were one skill virtually no one would turn down, it would be the ability to make music. Now, with the School of Rock opening its doors in Cape Town, the entire family can sign up for a totally rockin’ adventure that will put an instrument in their hands and a stage under their feet to experience a thrill that very few ever get to. There are a variety of performance-based courses, programmes, and camps to choose from (depending on age and experience) but the goal is the same: “to inspire the world to rock on stage and in life.”

Address: Suite 202, 2nd Floor Standard Bank Galleria, 120 Main Road, Claremont


Feed the Squirrels in the Company Gardens

In 1650, the first European settlers in the Cape established the Company Gardens, the original task of which was to grow fruits and vegetables to refresh and restock the merchant ships travelling to India via the Cape. Today, the Company Gardens are beautifully kept and a wondrous, historic place for families to explore by foot. We recommend a winding walk through the garden’s various attractions: the rose garden, bird aviary, minute forests, and past the historic buildings that line Governors Avenue. Here, you’ll find vendors selling snacks so why not purchase the kids a packet of peanuts, get comfortable on one of the gardens’ many lawns, and encourage them to entice the resident squirrels – of which there are scores – to eat the nuts out of their hands?


Cape Town Science Centre

www.ctsc.org.za

Expose your children to the fascinating realm of science from an early age and open their minds to its fathomless fields of wonder. You might even learn something in the process too! The Cape Town Science Centre is a not-for-profit attraction that offers up a smorgasbord of exhibitions, awesome experiments, and interactive discoveries to keep the whole family delighted and engaged. They also run workshops and science camps over the school holidays so go to the website to check out their programmes.

Address: 370B Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town


Take the Kids to the World of Birds Sanctuary

www.worldofbirds.org.za

The World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park is an enchanting daylong activity that immerses visitors in nature. Wind your way through humid micro-biomes populated by kalaeidescopic tropical birds, large raptors, and owls; take a step into the squirrel monkey enclosure and feel their little paws as they crawl all over you; and watch the keepers feed the penguins, flamingos, and pelicans. Bird enthusiast or not, the World of Birds is an institution and a delightful diversion for families visiting Hout Bay.

Address: Valley Road, Hout Bay


Go Diggin’ at the Scratch Patch, V & A Waterfront

www.scratchpatch.co.za

The Scratch Patch is a total gem (pun intended) tucked away across the road from the V & A Waterfront’s revamped warehouse district, although the original is in Simon’s Town. With shimmering glass cases full of glittering crystals, colourful rock specimens, and jewellery and a veritable treasure of polished semi-precious stones on the floor of the Scratch Patch den, any self-respecting adventurer could keep busy for hours! The entry to Mineral World is free, but it costs between R25 and R130 to fill a small to large bag up with pebbles from the Scratch Patch.


Play a little Cave Golf

www.scratchpatch.co.za/cave-golf/

Literally right next door to the Scratch Patch is the aptly named Cave Golf: an 18-hole indoor putt-putt course located in a moodily-lit room that’s been elaborately done up as a cave, complete with running streams and low-hanging rock ceilings (in places). It’s deceptively tricky at times, making it a decent challenge for the whole family. A round of golf only costs R30 per player (R25 for groups of 10 or more) with a refundable deposit of R20.