Find the Khwa ttu san spirit in the Cape West Coast with family and friends.
Follow Di Brown “The Roaming Giraffe” on her exploration of the first people of South Africa.
The way we travel is changing and it’s a good thing. More and more people are moving away from glitzy, packaged products where you just sit back and are entertained, and tourists are actively seeking travel that has a little depth, a connection and perhaps a balm to the conscience as we realise that being able to travel is a luxury the majority of the population can’t afford.
I think it goes even deeper than that. Human beings are sociable, the media is educating us and we are more aware than ever of our impact on the earth and our fellow human beings. We also seem to be moving away from passive entertainment to active engagement. We want to be the master of our leisure time, preferring a place that facilitates a variety of activities to be enjoyed in our own time.
We want our travels and our Rands to make a positive impact on the places we visit, the environment we inhabit and we hope to return home a little better educated.
The West Coast Way SA is developing a reputation as an area that is deeply committed to growing its tourism offering in a sustainable way. This is not always the easiest way to develop a tourist attraction but it is the right way to go. The routes being developed by West Coast Way SA are certainly focussing on responsible and sustainable tourism.
!Khwa ttu is one of many attractions on the routes.
It was established in 1999 and was way ahead of its time in its thinking.
It all started when Swiss anthropologist Irene Steahelin bought the farm Grootwater as part of her commitment to assist the San people.
Michael Daiber has been involved from the beginning and it seems his passion has not dwindled even slightly in the last seventeen years.
Daiber tells me that meeting the stringent requirements for Fair Trade Certification had a big impact on him. He says it changes the way you think about business, your staff and your impact on the environment. Once you become aware of this bigger picture there is no going back.
So what exactly is !Khwa ttu?
It is everything and nothing. There is space to be alone with your thoughts or a central hub where you can choose your activities.
The main buildings and reception area are perched on the top of a hill that affords views for miles. The ocean, the veld, the hills and on a clear day, Table Mountain is visible in the distance.
These beautiful whitewashed buildings surrounded by natural vegetation welcome you to !Khwa ttu. It is here that you will find the restaurant that will thrill foodies. Creative dishes are paired with local wines or craft beer from the area. All produce is fresh and seasonal and sourced from producers in the immediate area.
Grey water from the kitchens and bathrooms is directed into the reeds and cleaned naturally.
A shop next to the restaurant supports a number of local artists and community craft initiatives, as well as stocking a selection of unusual gifts, informative books on the San people, and a wide range of must have mementoes to take home with you.
An outdoor area leading off the restaurant makes !Khwa ttu an ideal place for children. Tables are dotted around a large grassy play area where kids can be wild and free.
The first phase of the Dream Museum comprises of an enclosed courtyard with colourful art depicting various aspects of the San Culture. Large boards tell stories of the history and traditions, and it is from here that you start the guided walk into the veld. This fascinating journey includes making a bow and arrow, smelling and tasting traditional plants used for medicine by the SAN people and finally a cup of tea, brewed on an open fire and made from a collection of leaves plucked along the route.
So maybe eating and sitting is not your thing, for the active there are MTB Routes, trail running, hiking, and leisurely walks or cycles. These routes can be raced along or taken slowly and combined with animal and bird spotting in the fynbos.
!Khwa ttu employs twelve people five days a week to remove alien vegetation. Black Wattle and Port Jackson trees are greedy water users and their removal has brought about significant changes to the area. Natural water fountains and wetlands have returned bringing birds and other indigenous creatures back to the area.
The fynbos is flourishing and as the farm returns more and more to its natural state, animals that roamed here naturally are being reintroduced. Keep a lookout for Eland, Steenbok, Zebra and Bontebok and the smaller Honey badgers, Mongoose and Bat Eared Foxes. Looking down you might spot a porcupine, tortoise or rock hyrax. Ask at reception for directions to the bird hides and the vulture restaurant.
There are many ways to enjoy !Khwa ttu and staying over is an affordable option starting at just R250 per person at the tented camp.
If luxury is your thing cottages are available as well. These buildings have been repurposed from the original farm cottages in a huge restoration project. As Heritage buildings there were many restrictions governing the building work, but the end result is very pleasing. The cottages were altered to be west facing, that along with the thick walls works with the weather regarding staying cool and keeping warm, reducing the need for energy greedy air conditioning and heaters. Most of the accommodation offered uses solar power for lighting, and borehole water is used where ever possible.
So who should visit !Khwa ttu?
Stress bunnies that need to unwind in nature and those who love a bit of peace and quiet.
Birdwatchers, hikers, cyclists, trail runners and families with energetic and curious kids.
School groups and educators, companies and conferences, anthropologists and history buffs, botanists, foodies, tourists and day trippers.
Into the future.
Daiber tells me he is aiming to be completely off the grid in the next three years. The biggest expense on the farm is electricity.
The Dream Museum is a work in progress and new buildings are in the planning stages. This building will be totally eco- friendly, and perhaps as much of an attraction as the information it will house.
Finding better ways to produce power and conserve resources is an on-going project, and Daiber is very creative. He is also dedicated to continuous relationship building in the area. Everything used or needed is procured from the area. Michael explains it simply. By purchasing soap made by a local lady at R4 per bar instead of buying in bulk from a large business at R3 each, he is helping to support a family. This support is life changing as the ripples are endless.
This is responsible tourism in action. It is working with your neighbours, working with nature, restoring the land to its pristine state and investing in your staff by way of education and training.
Responsible tourism is selling hope for the future of the earth and the people of the area. It is well deserving of our support.
!Khwa ttu is only 75 km from the centre of Cape Town, and easy day out or an awesome weekend away.
Facilities available at !Khwa ttu San and Educational Centre
• Accommodation • Child Friendly • Pet Friendly • Bar • Restaurant (Breakfast / Lunch) • Fireplace • Wheelchair Accessibility (Restaurant) • Trip Advisor • Conference Facilities • Wedding and Function Venue • Shop • Tractor Rides • San Guided Experiences • Mountain Biking Trails • Mountain Bike & Helmet -hiring
Open 7 days a week | Free entry
R150/person for an 1,5hr San Guided Experience. (Group bookings essential)
Distance from Cape Town: 74km
Where: Grootwater Farm, R27
Coordinates: 33°21’44.55” S 18°16’14.12” E
Contact: (c) +27 (0)22 492 2998 | [email protected] | www.khwattu.org