Travel reference – Ricardo Alvarez

Ricardo Alvarez, The Netherlands, May 2015

Ricardo_Alvarez_Cookup_KamammaI have recently traveled around South Africa on a Dreamcatcher “Go truly local” route. I spent part of the time volunteering but a lot of time traveling around this beautiful country. Most of our accommodation was in Dreamcatcher Homestay with Kamammas in communities from Soweto (where I started to discover the incredible history of Sophia Town where people were actually removed from to Soweto) and stayed with one of those Kamammas who could share all her experiences with us. Dreamcatcher has a special tour which thus shows one much more and I have a greater understanding. I also stayed at a Homestay in Knysna and enjoyed the really special Cook-up with Kamamma experience in Melkhoutfontein, Stillbaai, enjoyed snacks from the Kamamma in Heidelberg and spent time with the children, teenagers and locals in the various communities.

South_African_oceanStaying with the Homestay Kamammas in South Africa is so much more interesting than staying in a 5 star hotel which with respect are more or less the same everywhere in the world where you are in a cocoon. If that is your thing then fine, but from the front door and outside you are on your own that can lead to pitfalls. For instance you can find that totally miss the point of the diversity of the country, or you are taken to the usual tourist places and miss special places locals know of and hardly get to eat the local food, let along know what exactly is going on in the communities. Not so with staying at the Kammamas. The luxury is sometimes not there, but you have all the comforts you actually need. However the warmth of the family and neighbours, the coyness of it all is beyond comparison.

For instance there is always a neighbor who can take you for a ride on a bike in Soweto if arranged. I walked to a WiFi spot close by and could visit a local shabeen (bar). In all the communities you are part of their circle. If there is a celebration you’re invited. Now that feels really comfortable. A lovely way to get know (a part of) the country. It is clear that Dreamcatcher is well known in these communities. I even met a grand mother with her grand daughter! I felt at home.

 

 

Ricardo_Alvarez_South_African_viewsIn between these experiences our route took us to Botlierskop Game Reserve which is not a busy, overcrowded place. The views are also spectacular. Of course the ostriches at Highgate in Oudtshoorn and the stunning, verdant valley and hospitality at Nuy Valley Guest House and Wine Estate, where we could unwind for a couple of days just reminded one that you often miss the most amazing places if you don’t allow yourself to go beyond the mainstream visitor experiences. I tasted the wine, lived in the vineyards and saw the grape pickers when i opened my comfortable room door. We even danced and had fun after dinner. Stunning views greeted me where ever I found myself.

Ricardo Alvarez,
The Netherlands