Accommodation review: Self-catering stay at !Khwa ttu, Yzerfontein

There is something magical about seeing wildlife up close. I don’t think when we set out for a much needed weekend away to Yzerfontein (after a surprising week) that we ever expected to have zebras within a few metres of us. This is not the kind of textbook travel experience you anticipate when you pack your bags and take to the road – but it’s the kind that you secretly live and breathe for as a traveller.

It’s about discovering more about yourself when digital devices and TV screens are stripped away (and even though complimentary Wi-Fi is on offer, you never bother to reach for your phone but to snap a picture) or about watching the one you love set against a flaming backdrop of impossible beauty – and struggling to figure out which is more beautiful…

It’s chasing wide open spaces where fresh-smelling fynbos, elusive dassies and no-fuss farm practicality take centrestage, and being so isolated in the countryside that you’ve never felt more connected or at ease with your surroundings…

This is my memory of !Khwa ttu – and it is a good one.

Remembering those who came before

Located some 70 kilometres outside of Cape Town and within easy driving distance of coastal town, Yzerfontein, !Khwa ttu isn’t a place where you will feel like time has stood still but rather, where you will feel a connection to the past, as you discover a way of life, which comes with its own culture, language, parables and beauty, but that also offers a touch of modernity…. just so you don’t lose sight of our present-day luxuries.

In this post, I will focus on the self-catering guest houses of !Khwa ttu. I first knew !Khwa ttu for its unique bush camps (with a nearby bush house) set amid the West Coast’s natural terrain and for its characteristic huts, which imitate the lives of the original San people before technology and settlers crashed onto the scene…

Yet, this was not really how I first experienced! Khwa ttu (though it may certainly be in days to come…) for myself because we were instead fortunate enough to spend a night at one of the two self-catering guesthouses, located on the main farm.

After claiming our house keys from reception, it was a short roundabout drive to our accommodation, which is within easy walking distance of the reception building/shop, visitor centre and restaurant. Both guesthouses have a demarcated parking space and there’s clear signage indicating Guest house 1 and 2 to avoid any possible confusion.

What lay within

Tastefully renovated, the old, former farm cottage has been divided into two, modern units for guests to enjoy, with each unit sleeping two people. Both offer two single beds, which can be made into one king-sized bed, and an en-suite bathroom.

We checked in sometime around 15:00pm and almost as soon as we had opened the door to our guest house, we were well-satisfied with our cosy, yet still large enough, overnight offering.

In our open plan cottage, we had a plush, comfy king-size bed to the left of the room, with plenty of cupboards/tall boys to use for your luggage and clothing, bedside tables (with lamps for when you want some more intimate lighting but nothing too bright), a well-equipped kitchen in the centre space, with all necessary amenities (including a fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster and all manner of elegant and useful cutlery, cooking utensils, oven gloves and crockery) and a table and chairs.

In the very centre of the room, we had two seating areas (one for eating, one for relaxing and curling up in front of the fire) surrounding a workable fireplace – which we got roaring later that night. There were also, handily, both fire lighters and firewood indoors and outdoors for us to use. What’s more, the guesthouses share a communal, circular ground braai and porch, which offers benches and other outdoor seating.

Our en-suite bathroom offered a spacious shower, toilet and basin with lovely !Khwa ttu hand and body products, which can be purchased from the shop. I particularly loved that the bathroom had a spotless, wall-to-wall mirror and that the vast, front window, overlooking the braai area, was blurred everywhere but right at the very top…

It was a bit like having an outdoor shower in that you could be within sight of nature, such as the dancing trees in a late night gust or the misty, dew-covering curtain just after a grey dawn, without being revealed to it, or sacrificing any of your personal privacy to your neighbours.

Another thing that was particularly useful and which I attacked with relish, quite literally before our bags were brought in, was the guidebook on !Khwa ttu, which explains everything from the rules to the farm’s history and the meaning of the name !Khwa ttu. (Hint: It has something to do with water… but I’m saving the history and explanation for my follow-up review on !Khwa ttu, which is coming soon…)

Once we’d enjoyed inspecting our guest house and taking in a few thoughtful touches, like the small bath salts and fresh, soft towels resting on each of our pillows, it was time to head back into Yzerfontein for some food supplies because we had a mind for a braai. After all, in such an authentically Western Cape place, it’s hard to imagine dining any other way, especially when you can rustle up something yourselves!

Communal braai area

On our way out, we first spotted zebra in a paddock below the outbuildings and to say we were excited is probably an understatement… we hoped there’d be more of this – and sure enough, !Khwa ttu wildlife did not disappoint us.

After our return from town, it was time for a quick, brisk walk. I switched from heeled boots to sensible takkies in about thirty seconds flat and was soon outdoors scampering about like an excited squirrel. Those moments took me right back to late evening walks on my family’s farm and unlike most of our fellow city slickers, the country vibes make us feel most at home, having grown up in a small Western Cape village.

Wide open spaces with nothing in sight for miles but fynbos and mountainous hills move me in ways I can’t fully express and !Kwha ttu, like our first stops of the day, was every bit the untarnished Cape countryside which knows development and change without sacrificing on any of the natural elements, like shrubby, pungent fynbos or tentative, yet untroubled fauna.

At the time of our visit in mid-July, the weather proved to be both a blessing and a curse, bringing the rains we’re all so desperate for but also limiting our outdoor adventures. Still, we’re not ones to be stopped by a little rain and the clouds did part enough for us to experience an amazing picnic hike – so things worked out wonderfully in the end anyway.

The picnic hike isn’t too challenging (though it is a bit steep in places so you might end up slightly breathless) and we definitely rushed up there and back.

Near a rocky outcrop (with a nearby bird hide and little pond), we managed to enjoy several gloriously unhurried moments of hushed quietness and seclusion, with nothing but a few thatch huts, rolling farmlands, peek-a-boo dassies and one very large, partially hidden leopard tortoise surrounding us.

The views were amazing, as was the atmosphere… there’s no other way of describing it. I think we both felt a strong sense of specialness… particularly when we later witnessed a mind-blowing winter West Coast sunset (I still swear the sky caught alight that night)…

It’s hard to beat that – but braaiing in the dark, but for some leaping flames in the braai spot, with no one around (at least not within immediate proximity) for a good while certainly proved a suitable man-made contender.

With varied roosterbroods, viennas wrapped in bacon, tasty cheese grillers and yummy boerewors (as well as some of our fresh ciabatta from nearby Beulah Farm Deli as a starter), we had one hell of a braai and I have to say, I was definitely treated to a royal feast by my very own ultra-capable braai master.

Just after we’d begun cooking, our next door neighbours arrived to occupy Guest House 1 and yet, barring a friendly greeting, we didn’t see them again so it was still endlessly peaceful and private for us personally.

Once we’d dished up and the table was groaning under all that good food ready for the eating, being able to seat ourselves down in front of the warm indoor fireplace, surrounded by cosy, yet chic interiors and interesting décor (animal skulls that, oddly, work well and stay true to the San spirit for me) was certainly a moment for the memory banks… I’ve experienced some pretty posh places in my time but you can give me that kind of dining any day and I’ll never want for anything more.

After a warm drink to put the fire back into our veins, it was time to retire to bed for what would make for a peaceful and relaxing night’s rest. I woke up once or twice but all I heard was the cry of some wild thing in the night and the soft patter of rain falling onto the roof in the early hours of the morning… regardless of these things, I was totally well at ease.

How it rated

Everything from the supplied goods (like the bottle of still water thoughtfully placed inside the fridge) to the selection of tea, coffee and sugar found in our guest house added a sense of someone thinking about us in advance and remembering the small things, which make a big difference when you’re travelling or on holiday.

The bed was wonderfully comfortable to sleep in and I loved the wildlife imprinted pillows and super soft, warm blanket, which made it even more perfect.

Although our room did not have a TV (who really needs a TV out in the country when real adventure awaits?), complimentary Wi-Fi was available and I suppose we could have asked for the password at reception if we really felt the need for internet browsing… but, like I said before, we really didn’t. Sometimes it’s way too good to disconnect and just remember that life isn’t contained to the small screens in front of us…

Overall, I would give our self-catering guest house accommodation at !Khwa ttu an 8/10 rating for the following: chic, yet unfussy interiors and furnishings; excellent sleeping and kitchen facilities; a delightfully spacious shower; workable fireplaces indoors and outdoors; handy, thoughtful supplied goods (like firewood, water, bath salts and two sets of fresh towels to name a few); plentiful seating and tables and tasteful lighting and blinds, which served their purpose equally well as required.

Some of these may sound like standard touches you’d expect at almost any good self-catering place but I can tell you it’s not always the case, so !Khwa ttu was very refreshing in that sense too.

If you stay at !Khwa ttu’s self-catering guest houses for one night, you will pay R880 per person (this deal includes both bed and breakfast, as we discovered the next morning at the restaurant when we ordered our morning coffee).

For more information on !Khwa ttu and its different accommodation offerings and prices, you can contact them on: (022) 492 2998, email them at info@khwattu.orgvisit their website or of course, find and follow them on Facebook or Twitter at KwhattuSan.

If you would like to know more about !Khwa ttu overall from me personally… please keep an eye out for my next, soon-to-be-published post! 🙂

Thank you very much to !Khwa ttu and their staff for having us and for making our overnight experience so memorable and enjoyable!

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