Travel reference – Henna Renfurm

Henna Renfurm, The Netherlands & Spain, 2015

Henna_Renfurm_on_beachAs social anthropologist and documentary/film maker I have been to South Africa on a number of occasions and I have traveled around the country quite a lot. This time I volunteered with Dreamcatcher to contribute my skills and knowledge towards the production of a DVD project the founder Anthea was producing for Dreamcatcher. However drawing on their vast knowledge of the country, working at grass roots every day, they developed the program in such a manner that we could also drive around and have quality leisure time en route.

Henna_Renfurm_with_DC_kidsThis meant that I embarked on an amazing journey to discover a completely new way of traveling. I was unprepared for the incredible impact it would have on me and I find myself already drawn back before I have even unpacked my bag back home! South Africa is a wonderful country to travel around in by yourself and let it speak to you as you go along. Because Dreamcatcher has various travel routes which they call “Change Lanes and Go Truly Local”, I was not only exposed to some of the most beautiful landscapes, I met and engaged many locals on our route. There is so much to do and see that I had never done in quite the same way. It was possible to stay and eat in Soweto and end at stunning wine estates in the Cape.

Starting out in Soweto, spending 3 nights there, I also spent quality time in Sophia Town at the Trevor Huddleston Centre. The fact that I actually stayed over at the comfortable homestay of Kamamma Mamule in Soweto, who was forcefully removed from Sophia Town was wonderful. From there my journey, staying over in many lovely towns. What stands out on my travels is that Dreamcatcher manages to expose you to a cuisine and people engagement experience to match it that can only be described as a journey of the mind matched with what Dreamcatcher calls “A taste of reality”.

Henna_Renfurm_potjiekosFrom Soweto to Knysna Homestays where the wonderful Cook-Up Kamammas cook with various ingredients, spices and herbs (most cultivated in their back yards), offering delightful diversity. From Attakwas Guest House at Oudtshoorn, offering amazing breakfast with homemade everything, from preserves to rusks to bread, with the husband called by the charming name of Katot, showing us amazing photos of leopards in the Swartberg Mountains close by, to the “Potjiekos” or Trekpot at Nuy Vallei Guest House, lovingly made by Rosaline. This hand cooked meal complimented by award winning wines produced on the estate and was followed by dancing to the lovely local music put on for us. The wine tasting offered there is like nothing I have done before. It is straight from the barrel. No bottles in sight and proudly offered by the wine maker and owner personally. Reflecting the good life under lush vineyards with verdant valleys and the stunning mountain backdrop, was a great way to end a meal or start the day.

Henna_Renfurm_cookup_KamammaDid I mention that the Kamamma meals are usually cooked in front or with you amid quite a lot of fun and laughter?. The meals we enjoyed on our journey were complimented by many locally shared stories and can only be described as delightful. We enjoyed a picnic under an ancient tree at Botlierskop Game Reserve, where sightings of the most rare bird, the Cape Loerie, is a daily occurrence, we ate with Giraffe’s and different antelope specie grazing peacefully near us. We ate fish at the quant harbour in Stilbaai and I could wonder down the stunning beach all on my own with white sand and azure water as far as my eyes could see. Eating the “Baby in Blanket” and smelling the fresh bread kneaded by Kamamma Katrina in Melkhoutfontein. In surprising, knowledgeable detail, making a lot of sense I never even thought of, she takes the environment into consideration when she prepares her meals. Now that is local knowledge for you!

Special care was taken to the special dietary needs of myself and my colleague at all times.We finally ended up having dinner under the trees at sunset at Eikendal before we left for the airport. The Dreamcatcher idea of going truly local, along the changed lanes as they do it around South Africa, is now for me, the preferred way to travel around the country. Spending quality time with the children in the community is like looking into the soul and future of the country. With thanks and appreciation to all the wonderful hosts. I will be back!

Drs Henna Renfurm
Social Anthropologist
The Netherlands & Spain.