Lighthouses to Explore Up and Down the Western Cape Coast

There is something incredibly nostalgic and even romantic about lighthouses. In a world where technology is ruthlessly taking over, rendering old world methods, structures, and equipment redundant, it’s comforting to know that lighthouses, some many centuries old, still serve a vital function. And it’s for their history, picturesque addition to any coastal landscape, and beguiling nautical (and occasionally naughty) tales that we simply love visiting them! Here are some of the Cape’s most notable lighthouses.


Cape Point Lighthouse

Where to find it? Cape Point Nature Reserve, Cape Point, South Africa

When was it built? Originally, in 1860 and then it was relocated to a lower elevation in 1919.

Brief history: The lighthouse at Cape Point has long served as a beacon of hope to intrepid explorers and traders. Located at the resupply station for early trading ships rounding the wicked “Cape of Storms”, it would warn approaching ships of the treacherous coastline, but also bring joy at the prospect of land and a chance to replenish supplies with fresh food and good wine.
Owing to its high elevation, however, the old Cape Point lighthouse ran the risk of being spotted too early by ships, compelling them to approach too closely. Additionally, foggy conditions at higher levels would often smother the lighthouse’s powerful beams, making it invisible to ships. It was precisely this that wracked the SS Lusitania, a 5,557-tonne Portuguese ocean liner, on Bellows Rock, just south of Cape Point, in April 1911. Subsequently, a new lighthouse was built at a lower elevation (87 meters above sea level), which cannot be seen from the west until ships are at a safe distance to the south.

Why it’s worth visiting today: The new Cape Point lighthouse is the most powerful on the South African coastline, with a range of 101 km or 55 nautical miles, and shining with an intensity of 10 mega candelas in each flash. Located at the Cape of Good Hope, with commanding ocean and peninsula views, the area is also incredibly scenic, arrestingly beautiful, and offers many hiking trails and picnic spots. Just watch out for the baboons!

Website: www.capepoint.co.za


Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, Southernmost Tip of Africa

Where to find it? Lighthouse Street, L’Agulhas, Western Cape

When was it built? 1849

Brief history: For 171 years, the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse has stood sentry over this auspicious section of coastline, the southernmost tip of the continent, and the official meeting point of the mighty Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The lighthouse was first lit on 1 March 1849 using sheep tail fat as its original fuel. This was replaced by an oil-burning lantern in 1905; a petroleum vapour burner in 1929; and then a four-kilowatt electric lamp powered by a diesel generator in 1936.
In 1968, the Cape Agulhas lighthouse was retired from service due to excessive weathering of its sandstone walls and the building declared a national monument. In 1988, however, it was restored and re-commissioned, making the Cape Agulhas lighthouse the second oldest working lighthouse in southern Africa.

Why it’s worth visiting today: The prestige and wonderment of witnessing the meeting point of two of the world’s mighty oceans is an unforgettable experience, set against the backdrop of the magnificent Cape Agulhas lighthouse, a Western Cape provincial heritage site. Visitors to the area can also see and explore the Meisho Maru shipwreck on the shores nearby, as well as the remains of ancient stone fishtraps used by the Khoisan people.

Website: www.sahistory.org.za


Green Point Lighthouse, Mouille Point

Green Point Lighthouse, Mouille Point

Where to find it? 100 Beach Road, Mouille Point, Cape Town

When was it built? 1824

Brief history: With its slick, candy-striped paint job, and squat, cheery disposition on the Mouille Point promenade, the Green Point lighthouse might not look it, but it is indeed the oldest lighthouse in South Africa. It was originally designed by sculptor Herman Shutte, who arrived in the Cape in 1790, and its single-wick Argand lanterns powered by sperm whale oil. In 1865, it was expanded to its current size and certified a provincial heritage site on 12 January 1973.

Why it’s worth visiting today: The Green Point Lighthouse is an eye-catching landmark in Mouille Point that makes for some unforgettable, atmospheric photos (and selfies) of this spectacular cosmopolitan coastal strip. Not only is it the oldest operational lighthouse of its kind in South Africa and a national monument, it is also rumoured to be haunted by a ghost called Daddy West.

Website: www.cape-town-heritage.co.za


Slangkoppunt Lighthouse, Kommetjie

Slangkoppunt Lighthouse, Kommetjie

Where to find it? Lighthouse Road, Kommetjie

When was it built? 1919 – sort of

Brief history: The lighthouse at Slangkoppunt was first due to be completed in 1914; they even had a brass sign commissioned for this date. However, the explosion of hostilities across the globe during the First World War brought progress to a standstill for a few years. The lighthouse was then officially inaugurated on 4 March 1919 but was in fact operational in the years prior to that, as was noted in the captain’s log of the HMS Himalaya on 19 July 1917. In 1979, the Slangkoppunt lighthouse became fully automated, reducing it three-man station staff to a single senior light keeper.

Why it’s worth visiting today: Today, this lighthouse, which is a visible landmark from tens of kilometres away, even as far away as Hout Bay, remains the tallest cast iron tower in South Africa. Standing at 41 meters tall and painted white to stand out against the blues and greens of its backdrop mountains, the Slangkoppunt lighthouse serves as a faithful tourist attraction to visitors to the area. It’s open for guided tours, which take visitors up a rather hair-raising inner spiral staircase to the top of its beacon.

Website: www.capepointroute.co.za


Cape Columbine Lighthouse, Tietiesbaai

Where to find it? Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Tietiesbaai, Western Cape

When was it built? 1936

Brief history: The lighthouse at Cape Columbine on the West Coast of the Western Cape is the last manned lighthouse to have been built on the South African coast. The lighthouse, as well as the headland and surrounding nature reserve, were named after the barque Columbine, a three-mast sailing ship that met her untimely and unfortunate end on the rocks approximately 1.5 kilometres to the north on 31 March 1829. The Columbine Lighthouse was commissioned on 1 October 1936, more than 100 years after the tragedy.

Why it’s worth visiting today: The Columbine Nature Reserve in Tieties Bay (or “Tietiesbaai” in Afrikaans) sprawls out on a spectacular stretch of coastline, even though the surrounding landscape can appear quite barren at certain times of the year. The spiral staircase within the lighthouse affords visitors breathtaking views out over the Britannia reef and the Atlantic Ocean. Also, its design is somewhat unorthodox with its tapered, square tower and buttressed tower corners.

Website: www.paternoster.co.za


Shelley Point AKA Stompneus Point Lighthouse

Shelley Point AKA Stompneus Point Lighthouse

Where to find it? End of 14th Street, Shelley Point, St. Helena Bay

When was it built? 1920

Brief history: The Shelley Point lighthouse, also known as the Stompneus Point lighthouse, is a classically attractive nautical structure located at the northernmost boundary of the Cape St. Martins peninsula at the western entrance to Saint Helena Bay. In 1920, it was built in a private capacity by the owner of the surrounding estate, a lighthouse enthusiast (although, strictly speaking, it’s not a lighthouse but rather a “lead light”). Today, the site is open for all to walk around and enjoy but the tower is closed to explorers.

Why it’s worth visiting today: Perched right at the end of a tumble of rocks in the Atlantic Ocean, the Shelley Point lighthouse is a beautiful landmark and a great photographic opportunity. It’s also embraced by pristine beaches.

Website: www.visitwestcoast.co.za


Danger Point Lighthouse, Walker Bay

Danger Point Lighthouse, Walker Bay

Where to find it? Southern end of Walker Bay, near Gansbaai, Southwestern Cape Coast

When was it built? 1895

Brief history: It was in 1488 that Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias landed at the southern end of Walker Bay and called it Ponte de Sao Brandao (The Bridge of Saint Brandao). Later, this treacherous section of reefs and rocky outcrops would become known as Danger Point, a name well-earned after it saw to the demise of more than 140 ships and thousands of lives. In 1890, the lighthouse commission finally stressed for the need for a lighthouse at this particularly perilous point, although it was only actually completed several years later, in 1895. Thankfully, the Danger Point lighthouse performed its duty and has saved countless ships and lives from getting dashed against the rocks.

Why it’s worth visiting today: The Danger Point lighthouse is open to the public on weekdays from 10:00 until 15:00 (although you should call beforehand to make sure they’re open, since it is a working lighthouse). It’s a remarkably attractive structure with three lights that flash every 40 seconds and shine with the intensity of 4,750,000 candles! Also, the surrounding coastal scenery is breathtaking.

Website: www.whalecoast.info

DK Villas’ Properties are Available for Longer-term Rentals at Great Deals!

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to re-examine our lives in the most minute of details and redesign them to be compatible with our new reality. During the quarantine, dk villas also had to take a good long, hard look at our business and determine a way forward. In a world where travel and tourism has ground to a halt, how we can continue to offer luxury, high-end accommodations in some of the Cape’s most beautiful destinations?

The answer is to open our accommodations up to longer-term rentals. While COVID-19 may have most of us in lockdown, life continues and people – couples, families, working professionals, and retirees - still need a place to call home. And so we’ve reshaped our offering to include longer-term rentals of our three properties at great prices.

If you’re looking for a beautiful, fully furnished, tech savvy home to walk into and stay for several months or even the better part of a year, dk villas’ three luxury apartments are available to you. To book your stay or find our more, simply fill out the Contact Form Here or send us an email at info@dkvillas.co.za!

Now, let’s show you our gorgeous locations….


dk villas Harbour View Property

9 Harbour View, 46 Main Road, Hout Bay
Three bedrooms | two bathrooms | sleeps six people
R18,000 per month, incl. 160 GB Wi-Fi, weekly service, fully furnished, 24-hour security, secure parking spot

On the Chapman’s Peak side of the valley, with direct views of The Sentinel Mountain and Hout Bay’s beach and charming harbour, you’ll find the beautiful and spacious Harbour View property. This three-bedroom, two-bathroom self-catering apartment is a masterpiece by the DK Villas team, and a seamless blend of luxury furnishings, high-end electronics and appliances, gorgeous views, and home-style convenience.

A generous and fully kitted out modern kitchen and state-of-the-art appliances such as SMEG washing machine, tumble dryer, and dishwasher gives tenants a turnkey space in which to prepare full meals and instantly feel right at home. But, if it’s a restaurant take-away meal you’re after (in these times of restricted movement), Hout Bay has a vast spectrum to choose from, including the nearby Spiro’s Greek Restaurant, Dunes (right on the beach), and ever-popular Chapman’s Peak Hotel.

The bedrooms are the epitome of oases with their soft colour palettes, natural textures, Egyptian cotton bedding, luxurious furnishings, and designer room fragrances; an aesthetic and feel that is echoed by the two bathrooms, one full and one en-suite.

Finally a stylish open-plan lounge and dining area with seating for eight people, large TV, and Wi-Fi round out the offering. For your safety and peace of mind, dk villas’ Harbour View property has 24-hour camera security, electric fencing, and a secure undercover parking bay.

Cost: longer-term rental of dk villas’ fully-furnished, three-bedroom Harbou View apartment costs R18,000 per month and includes safe parking, 24-hour security, 160 GB high-speed Wi-Fi (80 GB daytime and 80 GB night time), and a weekly service. Please note that water and electricity are not included.


The Boardwalk, Hout Bay

3 The Boardwalk, 3 Oxford Street, Hout Bay
Two bedrooms | two bathrooms | sleeps four people
R13,000 per month, incl. water, unlimited Wi-Fi, weekly service, fully furnished, secure parking spot

Located a short walk from Hout Bay beach and the surrounding restaurants and shops, dk villas Boardwalk property is a trendy, modern, fully furnished and spacious self-catering apartment with two bedrooms that sleep a total of four people. From the contemporary yet homey lounge area, tenants can marvel over views of the bay and Chapman’s Peak, which turns beguiling hues of pinks and crimson as it catches the light of the setting sun.

There isn’t a modern amenity or luxury that isn’t represented here, with all furnishings, appliances, and electronics being sourced from high-end manufacturers. A fully equipped kitchen complete with SMEG appliances, washing machine, and tumble dryer invites tenants to sink right in and treat their new lodgings as home.

dk villas Boardwalk property also packs two bathrooms, safe basement parking, free Wi-Fi, a gorgeous lounge and dining area, and beds dressed with poofy duvets and Egyptian cotton so soft, your biggest challenge will be getting up in the mornings.

Cost: longer-term rental of dk villas’ fully-furnished, two-bedroom The Boardwalk apartment costs R13,000 per month and includes water, unlimited, high-speed Wi-Fi (160GB), and a weekly service. Please note that electricity is not included.


Dwarskersbos

2 Hoof Street, Dwarskersbos, West Coast
Two bedrooms | two bathrooms | sleeps four people
R8,500 per month, incl. water, Wi-Fi, weekly service, fully furnished, secure parking spot

Dwarskersbos and its beach, Dolfynstrand, is a place to “get away from it all” - away from the city and the insanity. It’s a serene escape in which one can do a little reconnection with oneself, a loved one, and nature. And as a visitor to this far-flung portion of the Cape, there couldn’t be a better home-away-from-home to do it all in than dk villa’s beach cottage at Skilliepark.

dk villa’s two-bedroom beach cottage is perfectly positioned near the beach to allow guests front-row seats to the sunset. And with a sheltered indoor braai area with eight-seater table and wrap-around windows, the show can be enjoyed irrespective of the season.

Inside, the cottage is decidedly chic and beach-themed with full attention paid to every detail concerning function, comfort, space usage, and aesthetics. There is 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 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 the fairly remote coastal village of Dwarskersbos. This includes free Wi-Fi, an enormous flat screen TV, and Egyptian cotton towels and sheets. There are even reference books for birding and nature enthusiasts to peruse.

Cost: longer-term rental of dk villas’ fully-furnished, two-bedroom Skilliepark apartment costs R8,500 per month and includes water, safe parking, free Wi-Fi, and a weekly service. Please note that electricity is not included.

The Adrenalin Junkie’s Guide to Cape Town

The Cape’s fiercest and most fun outdoor activities

What better time is there to plan a thrilling bucket list than in the current climate? We’ve certainly got the time for it, and besides, the Cape has no shortage of adrenalin-packed adventure to offer. Here are some of our Cape Town recommendations for people who want to get the blood rushing in furious fashion after months and months of lockdown.


Skydiving

Skydiving and adrenalin (or, for most, terror) are practically synonyms for each other. But if it’s the best view in the country you’re after, you’ve got to fling yourself out of an aircraft at 12,000 feet above sea level to see it! Whilst plummeting towards the ground, make sure to absorb the Cape’s staggeringly beautiful scenery, from her rugged peninsula and mountain ranges to her gently rolling farmlands. Mother City Skydiving (+27 79 337 2443) and Skydive Cape Town (+27 82 800 6290) are two well-known, reputable companies that offer adrenalin-soaked tandem skydives, an unforgettable experience.


Ziplining

Have you ever wondered what it felt like to fly? Who hasn’t? Ziplining is as close to that feeling as you can get, without a noisy engine in your ear. Once strapped in to all of your safety equipment, you can blissfully throw yourself into thin air, and delight in the scenery that whips past you, from yawning mountain chasms and rushing rivers to pristine fynbos carpeted valleys. There are several locations in the Cape that are considered prime spots for ziplining adventures. One of the most reputable companies is Cape Canopy Tours (+27 21 3000 501), which arranges exhilarating tours of its 13 elevated platforms in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.


Abseiling

Instead of the slogging the six hours it takes to get up Table Mountain’s imposing city-facing slopes, why not take the easy route: catch the cable car up and then abseil down? With an altitude of over 1,080 meters, Cape Town’s iconic mountain offers one of the highest commercial abseiling experiences in the world and there couldn’t be a better way to get up close and personal with her stony, fynbos-clad, and dassie-decorated countenance than to abseil down it. Abseil Africa (+27 21 424 4760) is a popular and well-respected company to go through; another is Cape Extreme (+27 76 016 9696).


Hot Air Ballooning

Is there anything quite as romantic as hot air ballooning over a patchwork quilt of vineyards and farmlands? Hardly! GoBallooning (+27 72 955 5444) is a Stellenbosch-based company that offers morning rides over the Cape Winelands. The point of departure is Klein Joostenberg Farm and from here, the balloon soars over the N1 and then the surrounding farmlands and winelands. Without the roar of an engine, guests can take in the early morning melody of the Cape farmlands, from the toll of church bells to the lowing of cattle. It’s an unforgettable, multi-sensory experience.


Paragliding

The Cape Peninsula is peppered with paragliding spots, the best known and most easily accessible of which are Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. These scenic launch sites offer breath-taking views of the Cape’s rugged and dramatic topography. Fly Cape Town (+27 82 851 7119) and Cape Town Tandem Paragliding (+27 76 892 2283) are two reputable companies that offer such exhilarating experiences in the city. Further afield, you can look into paragliding in the picturesque Franschhoek valley, Porterville in the Olifants River Mountains (155 kilometres northeast of Cape Town), the whale-watching town of Hermanus, and the hair-raising Sir Lowry’s Pass in the Hottentots Holland Mountains.


Quad biking

Sand dunes, mountain trails, and even vineyards: the Cape’s varied landscapes are even more fun to explore behind the wheel of a quad bike or ATV (all-terrain vehicle) than by foot! Most of the quad bikes supplied by Cape Town’s adventure companies such as Extreme Scene (+27 79 666 9789) and Downhill Adventures (+27 21 422 0388) are automatic, so all you need to do is open the throttle and let her fly: no experience needed.


Important note: All of the above-mentioned thrilling adventures are weather dependent so keep a close eye on the forecast and stay in contact with the company you’ve booked through to avoid disappointment.

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 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.

Buy it on Amazon


‘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.

Buy it on Amazon


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.

Buy it on Amazon


‘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.