I’m not one for making New Year Resolutions. That’s not to say I’m not goal-driven, nor that I lack ambition. But, rather, whenever I try to make a list of resolutions, it ends up looking more like an extensive “Wanderlist” (inspired by the the most inspirational South African duo behind How Far From Home) than anything else. Each year, my “resolutions”, for the most part, follow the same theme of adding to my life experiences and doing the things I hadn’t done the year before. This could be something big like savings towards traveling to a dream overseas destination, something closer to home like hiking new routes, or (and this is a major goal of mine for this year) something slightly outside of my current comfort zone like completing a PADI diving course.
So, if you’re like me, and 2018 signals another 365 opportunities to do the things you’ve never done before, then a visit to !Khwa ttu on Cape Town’s West Coast is the perfect place to start.
Just before I escaped to Plett at the end of last year, I was fortunate enough to experience a glimpse into the San culture at this unique heritage and education centre. Located on a farm about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, !Khwa ttu was founded as a means of bringing together San people from all over Southern Africa, and as a form of cultural restitution. !Khwa ttu is a place where the traditions of the San – considered the First People of Southern African – can be upheld, where their rich history is preserved and where all of this is shared with the outside world in a way that serves the well-being of the San, and not just that of the tourism industry.
It was a privilege to spend the day learning about their way of life from the San themselves. In a way that was both engaging and true to their culture, we learnt about their language, their hunting and gathering methods, the local flora and how they would use them and about their daily life in a contemporary world. Together we lunched on a meal made from locally sourced ingredients (including !Khwa ttu’s own free-range game meat, and beer from the nearby Darling Brew), before heading on towards another of !Khwa ttu’s special treasures – the boma. Perched atop rolling hills and overlooking the ocean in the distance and the lush farmland in between, this is an ideal place for sundowners.
Before arriving at the boma for one last toast to an inspiring day, we were treated to a game drive through part of the nature reserve on which !Khwa ttu is founded. This organisation not only focuses on restoring the San heritage in a sustainable way, but also places much emphasis on preserving the area’s biodiversity. The natural vegetation has been allowed to flourish, and a bunch of indigenous animals have been reintroduced, like porcupine, bontebok, springbok, tortoise, plenty birds of prey and a couple of bat-eared foxes. At one point a large snake slithered across the dirt road, forcing our driver to hit the breaks. Our San guide looked over the edge of the open-air vehicle and identified the creature as a Cape Cobra, just before it disappeared into the long, dry grass and out of sight.
!Khwa ttu truly offers a unique West Coast experience, and, with MTB and trail running routes to add to the centre’s already extensive list of activities, clearly there’s plenty to keep you engaged and fascinated if you’re planning on a full day trip. It’s also a wonderful place to stop off en route other destinations along the West Coast, or you could stay the night at one of !Khwa ttu’s own gorgeous guest house suites or tented camps.
If you’re unable to visit this summer, diarise 24 September 2018, South Africa’s Heritage day, for a visit. This will be a day of celebrating not only our country’s diverse heritage, but also the grand opening of the new !Khwa ttu museum experience. It’ll be the ultimate opportunity to share in the San Spirit.
Speaking of Cape Town, I’m heading back home tomorrow. It’s sad as always to say goodbye (for now) to Plett, but, at the same time, it’s time to really get cracking with this year!
Until next time. xx