Loves and life on the Garden Route in South Africa

Through the eyes of volunteer coordinator and crazy cat lady, Sharon

Wes Kus spring break  October 15, 2016

My partner and I recently had the most awesome spring break to South Africa’s west coast via gorgeous Barrydale situated on the edge of the Klein Karoo on the scenic R62

The first day was also the birthday of one of our friend’s who we went on our road trip with so we celebrated it with lunch at the iconic Diesel & Cremé in Barrydale with the best milkshakes in South Africa. And my god were they good! My Red Lady (red velvet cake) shake was to die for! 

The interior of Diesel & Cremé takes you back in time

Honeycomb, red velvet, strawberry and Turkish delight double thick shakes

After a drink at the Dung Beetle Bar and a nightcap on the Karoo Art hotel’s veranda, it was back to the beautiful Inkaroo cottage-highly recommended- where we stayed overnight which overlooks the town of Barrydale and from the wisteria covered veranda.

The wisteria at Inkaroo cottage

We had an early morning start to a magnificent sunrise over the town’s church steeple and then breakfast at the well recommended Clarke of the Karoo. 

Breakfast under the grape vines of Clarke of the Karoo

Last stop as we headed out the town was a quick wine tasting at Star Hill wines at the Akker farmstall. Their delicious peach & pear chutney is also worth putting in your shopping basket.

Wheat fields in the Swartland

Getting to the west coast is fairly simple. You just follow the R62 then connect with the N1 via Robertson and Paarl where you get onto the R45 through Malmesbury, the heart of the Swartland, and up through Vredenburg and onto beautiful Paternoster with its little white houses with coloured shutters famous for its crayfish (lobster) industry. 

Paternoster from the beach


The best ice-cream spots in Cape Town, South Africa December 31, 2014

Filed under: Cape Town,food,South Africa,SouthAFrica,Uncategorized — shadreyer @ 1:58 pm
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A taste of South Africa October 21, 2014

South Africa’s Rainbow Nation status goes way beyond our vast culture and heritage; it also applies to a succulent range of food and beverages that South Africans cannot get enough of and tourists have to try.

Pap, a South African staple, surrounded by chakalaka and corn on the cob. Image courtesy of yosoynuts

South African food is interesting and a bit strange to visitors, but trying some of these dishes should be part of your adventure. In honour of Heritage Month, I have put together this list of classic local dishes, and places where you can find them.

Ulusu/malamohodu (tripe)

Tripe is a Xhosa and Tswana delicacy made from sheep, goat or cow stomach and intestines. These are washed thoroughly and cooked in salt water until soft and tender.

A few years ago, the charm in cooking tripe was to keep the process as simple as possible, so no spices or vegetables were ever added to the dish. These days, however, it is usually served slightly spiced with pieces of vegetables added to it. Tripe is best enjoyed with steamed bread,pap (maize porridge), or samp and beans.

Where to try it: Marco’s African Place,15 Rose Lane, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. Business hours: Saturday, Sunday, Monday and public holidays, 3pm till late; Thursday and Friday, 12pm till late. Closed on Christmas and Boxing Day

Lightly curried tripe. Image courtesy of Alpha


Pap is a very popular dish in South Africa. Made from ground maize, it is cooked in different ways and accompanied by side dishes such as boerewors (South African farmers’ sausage), stew or tripe.

Where to try it: Max’s Lifestyle, Mbe Road, Umlazi, Durban. Business hours: Monday to Thursday, 7am till 8pm; Friday to Sunday, 7am till 1am


There is just something delicious about meat cooked in a three-legged cast-iron pot. Potjiekosconsists of meat and/or vegetables, slow-cooked in wine and stock until the meat is juicy and tender. Bread is sometimes used to mop up the juices.

Where to try it: Magic Moments, Jan van Riebeeck Ave, Oudtshoorn. Business hours: call + 27 (0)76 501 8685

Delicious potjiekos meal. Image courtesy of NevilleNel

Homemade ginger beer

Homemade ginger beer is a refreshing beverage made of a fusion of hot water, ground ginger, pineapple pieces, sugar, raisins and yeast. The ginger flavour teases your taste buds and satisfies your thirst.

Where to try it: Tam’JaZi Country Farm Stall, Fairlands Farm, Alexandria, Eastern Cape. Business hours: call + 27 (0)46 653 0914


Chakalaka is an all-South African dish made from onions, tomatoes, peppers and a lot of different spices. This dish has become a tradition in most South African homes and a must-have at any braai. Chakalaka can be enjoyed as a side dish with meat, boerewors, pap or bread.

Where to try it: Mzoli’s Place, Shop 3, NY 115, Gugulethu, Cape Town. Business hours: Monday to Sunday, 12pm till late

Mopane worms

This unusual Tswana delicacy makes for a filling and undeniably tasty meal. Mopane worms are picked, squeezed, cleaned and cooked in delicious sauces. They are also simply pan-fried until crisp.

Where to try it: Iyavaya restaurant, 42 Hunter Street, Yeoville, Johannesburg. Business hours: call + 27 (0)11 648 3500

Dried mopane worms. Image courtesy of NH53


This is probably the most popular homemade traditional beer among South Africans.Umqombothi takes time and a certain set of skills to brew, made from a mixture of water, maize, yeast and sorghum. Umqombothi makes for a refreshing drink for beer lovers.

Where to try it: Edible Gold Restaurant, 15 Bennett Street, Green Point, Cape Town. Business hours: call + 27 (0)21 421 46453


Visitor’s Guide to Knysna September 26, 2014

Visitor’s Guide to Knysna – The Garden Route

view of heads

Everyone coos over the Garden Route – with good reason too. If you’re visiting, here’s my visitor’s guide to Knysna. Even repeat visitors may find something new to enjoy here.

Having its origins in the Khoi language, Knysna is said to mean “fern” or “place of wood”. The meaning hasn’t quite been pinned down, but the town is certainly resplendent in both.

In author Dalene Matthee’s Circles in the Forest, an iconic work that has become representative of the town and its rich forest and indigenous fern heritage, one comes to understand the possible link to the Khoi word.

Knysna (pronounced Nize-nah), is situated within 157 000 hectares of the Garden Route National Park and is flanked by the estuary of the Knysna River and the Indian Ocean. A coastline and dense forest provide vast and varied flora, fauna and marine life abundance.

This article was written for AFK Travel

A small town, with a population just under 52 000, it is famous for the variety of outdoor activities including hiking, diving, fishing, canoeing, whale watching, mountain biking, as well as its wild and cultivated oysters. The popularity of the latter culminates in an annual oyster festival run over weeks, with the highlight being a “best dressed” oyster competition for local restaurants as well as a contest to eat the most in a minute – I’m too afraid to consider the number of juicy molluscs that have met their fateful end this way though.

This is a list of some of the best activities in Knysna:

 1.    Board a Ferry, Cruiser or Catamaran

Take a leisurely trip on a ferry across the lagoon to the heads, sandstone cliffs that separate the lagoon from the ocean. Or rev it up with a catamaran ride that sails out into the ocean. The heads are known to have thwarted many a rambunctious sailor – as a result Knysna is known as one of the most dangerous ports in the world. However, a slow-paced cruise on the lagoon, enjoying snacks and views on a summer day is one of the loveliest introductions to the town. You can opt for an oyster experience or a sunset cruise with bubbly too.

2.    The Featherbed Nature Reserve

Only accessible by ferry, this private nature reserve on the western head displays wonderful views and offers insight into local history. Guides take guests on a 1.3-mile walk and eco experience down the coastal forest to ancient sea caves. The terrain is surrounded by Cape fynbos and lunch can be enjoyed at the popular Cruise Cafe – it’s well known for its seafood and wine list.

3.    Forest Walk – following in steps of Circles in the Forest

Tracing the steps of the words and characters in Dalene Matthee’s novel that highlights the plight of the forest elephants and the exploited woodcutters, as well as the forest itself, the dense rainforest provides an enchanting playground. You can follow the clearly marked signs yourself, or take a guided tour with a handful of approved guides. You will encounter old mining tunnels, woodcutter pits and may spot buck, bush pigs and the glorious green Knysna loerie bird. There are pleasant waterfalsl and a rock pool as well. Meagan Vermaas is a highly recommended guide and one of the few approved by the Mathees. She also offers unique healing forest massages.

4.    Spectacular Viewing Point

From Coney

Drive up to the Coney Glen viewing point on the eastern heads for a sweeping view over the lagoon, Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua Mountains

Coney Glen Road, Knysna 6570, South Afric

5.    Whale Watching

Hop on a small boat that ventures out to sea to spot whales during the July – December season. The local Bryde’s whale is a local resident and during season southern right and humpback whales can also be seen up close. The boats are allowed to approach within 50 meters of the whales and the whales often get even closer – be prepared to get wet and get those waterproof cameras and go-pros out. If you suffer from seasickness though – be warned, it gets rough. Only one supplier has been granted a permit to conduct this activity in Knysna.

6.    Visit Local Rastafarian Community

You’ll be warmly welcomed by the Judah Square Rastafarian community in Khayeletu South township. The largest community of Rastafarians in South Africa, this enterprising community has risen in stature from an informal settlement in 1993 into a formal one with a emphasis on making the community sustainable. A tour with the warm and eccentric Brother Zebulon, who recites heartfelt poetry as he sets to educate you about the community and way of life is a fascinating experience. You can stay over at Sista Keri’s B&B – backpacker bunk-style accommodation as well.

Book directly:

7.    Noetzie Beach

A secluded cove not far from Knysna, Noetzie offers quiet beaches, an estuary and opportunities for bird and fauna gazing. Holiday homes built in the fashion of castles add to the intrigue. While the waters of the Noetzie River are dark and still, the waves crashing over the rocks are wild and lively. Fishing opportunities present here.

8.    Golf

Championship rate golf courses welcome both the competitive and recreational golfer, set on breath-taking grounds. Knysna really does offer some of the best in the country.

Simola – a Jack Nicklaus designed course:

Pezula –

9.    Eat Oysters

wild oysters

Known for its cultivated and wild oysters, you can’t leave the town without trying a few plates. The local restaurants spend a year perfecting their recipes for the perfect dressings that will enhance the succulent, briny little bivalves. They compete head-to-head at the annual Knysna Oyster festival for the best-dressed oyster. Naturally, plain is also utterly sublime. Personally I prefer a squeeze of fresh lemon or just a drop of Tabasco with mine, but expect to find some wacky creations like molecular gastronomy lemon bubbles and hay-smoked oysters. Even deep-fried oyster doughnuts. Expect to find oysters far cheaper here than in the big cities.

wild oysters at 34 South

Try: Tapas & Oysters:

34 South:

The Orchid Room at Simola:

10. Thesen Island

at Thesen Island

Named after Arnd Leonard Thesen, a prominent timber merchant from Norway who arrived in the town with his family in the late 1800’s and decided to stay. Once a timber processing plant started by his son, the island is now a residential marina built taking the sensitive ecology into account. Some of the most popular restaurants and shops can be found here. Don’t leave the town without visiting the humble but extremely popular bakery-restaurant Ile de Pain:

11. Township Tour

Connect with Penny and Ella who will take you into their world and homes on a very personal tour. They contribute to upliftment in the community as well – from the welfare of the local dogs to fostering children. You really shouldn’t leave town without experiencing this tour.

Tel: +2744 382 1087 | +27 (0)82 338 62 89 | +27(0)78 631 0673

Venture Farther Afield

Just outside Knysna are a host of activities that are easy to drive to.

  • Highest Bridge Bungee in World

If adrenaline rushes are your thing – this one’s for you. I can’t comment personally, having an acute fear of heights, but friends who have done this, have raved about the experience.

  • Phantom Pass

Phantom Pass rewards you with mountain passes, forest, farmland and rich history. A scenic drive that offers impressive views down across the Knysna River valley, it leads to the Rheenendal Ramble

  • Sedgefield – Wild Oats Community Farmer’s    Market

  • Wild Oats market

There are several charms to this certified “slow town” from hikes to dune walks and views from Gerricke’s Point where paragliders take off. The Wild Oats farmer’s market on a Saturday draws in crowds from all around, for good reason – the produce is excellent.

  • Rheenendal Ramble

This delightful winding forest drive will lead you to artists, quaint accommodation spots and artisans galore.

  • Brenton-on-Sea

A blue-flag beach on the western side of the lagoon that offers opportunities to spot dolphin, whales and enjoy long walks, as well as guided sand boarding on the dunes.


Knysna Hollows

kynsna hollow hotel

Conrad Pezula

conrad pezula hotel

Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa

Reader recommendation from Johan Nel: Belvidere Manor

Belvidere Manor. Sweet stay for me & my schnookums 20 years ago on honeymoon; still awesome”

little boats, Knysna

– See more at: