Since Cape Footprints was opened in Kleinkrantz, Wilderness in 2010, visitors have come to the house to celebrate birthdays, honeymoons, and reunions. Guests have come from near and far to enjoy the splendours of South Africa’s Garden Route, known for its “its beguiling diversity of wide sandy beaches, lovely lakes and lagoons, shady evergreen forests and protea-studded slopes” (Discover Africa 2021) from the comforts of the house. One of the visitors described Cape Footprints as “a perfect place for our significant friends who travelled from Thailand, USA, Kenya, Iraq, Holland and South Africa to spend 2015 Thanksgiving together.”
It is no ordinary house. Built predominately out of sandbags, the house’s elliptical design radiates a unique ambience and energy, unlike any conventional rectangular house built from bricks. The visitor enters via the garage and climbs the short wooden staircase to the living space, which offers uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean all the way to the Antarctic. A guest can move their office to the chaise-longue or couch where they can work on their laptop while a pod of dolphins’ swim past the house. It’s always a welcome distraction. “We enjoyed doing yoga on the balcony, facing the sea. At the end of the day, the sunsets are out of this world,” wrote M&N from Switzerland.
The house uses glass doors and windows to bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor spaces, allowing one to enjoy an ocean view during meals whether these are eaten in the dining area or on the back patio. It makes excellent use of natural light, especially in the kitchen and dining areas. The boundaries between the interior spaces are minimal. The house has only eight doors. The spacious kitchen is designed for anyone who loves to cook up a storm. It has a wonderful island, with a gas hob and ample space for people to sit around, chat and enjoy a drink while chopping vegetables. M&J from Washington DC, USA, commented: “We have rented homes all over the world and this one stands out as one of the best. The kitchen is equipped with more utensils than any unit we have ever rented”. For BBQ lovers, one never needs to worry about the weather as there is a built-in indoor braai as well as one outdoors, complete with a Zanzibar-themed bench, which provides seating around the fire pit.
The house is in the shape of two feet with their heels and big toes touching, hence the name. There are two bedrooms in each ‘foot’ – one twin and three double bedrooms and three ensuite bathrooms with spacious walk-in showers. One room is customised to accommodate a person using a wheelchair. Each room is functional and minimalist; but they all have ample wardrobe space, natural light, ventilation, and the sound of the ocean resonating through the night. An elegant indoor fireplace adds a cosy atmosphere during chilly evenings. “We just fell in love with the house, its unique design and the warm feeling,” wrote IH from Germany.
The exterior of the property boasts an indigenous waterwise garden, which has taken many years to establish. Before planting anything in the sand, heaps of building rubble had to be cleared. The war against aggressive and invasive plants — wattles, agaves, and Port Jacksons — is relentless, and the more desirable species – sour figs, vygies, ice plants, spekboom, and gazanias —are finally taking root. Visitors have gifted buchus, camphor bushes, milkwood and yellowwood trees. These, along with the other fynbos plants, attract sunbirds, bulbuls, wagtails, and shrikes, which are a delight to watch frolicking in the birdbath. Visiting friends have spent many hours clearing, planning, planting, and weeding.
Only 30 minutes from George airport and five minutes from the N2, Cape Footprints is ideally placed to explore the Garden Route: one of the most scenic areas in the world. Kleinkrantz beach, which is largely unexplored, is a mere 100ms from the house and is ideal for a walk on the wild side. Tall sand dunes slope down to a seemingly endless expanse of sand, offering a walk eastwards to Swartvlei and westwards to Wilderness. Buffels Bay beach, which is safe for swimming and a surfer’s paradise, is also within easy reach (20 minutes’ drive).
There are many top-class restaurants and culinary delights in the near vicinity. Some favourites include the Hoekwil Country Café’s scrumptious cheesecake (baked by a mystery chef) and fish and chips at the East Head Café, which boasts spectacular views of the Knysna Heads. For steak lovers, Joplins is excellent value for money, and, for that special celebration, Serendipity in Wilderness offers a fine dining experience that will stay with you for a long time. Zucchini restaurant at the nearby Timberlake Village is chic yet unpretentious, offering a wide menu for both lunch and dinner. A visit to the Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning is a must and a ritual for every guest staying at Cape Footprints. Located just off the N2 in Sedgefield, this rustic market offers the finest local fresh farm produce, home bakes, plants and flowers, outdoor breakfast and live music – no matter the weather.
The southern Cape is a playground for those who enjoy the outdoors. As the Golfing Mecca of South Africa, the area boasts numerous award-winning and world-class golf courses. While a hole-in-one on the golf course is never guaranteed, each one of the 25-plus courses will be an interesting and challenging experience. From Cape Footprints, one has easy access to numerous day hikes, managed by SANParks and Cape Nature, to suit all levels and abilities. A personal favourite is the Goukamma Marine Nature Reserve, close to Buffels Bay. The fun starts when the party has to ferry themselves across the river. The hike then leads up along the dunes and down through coastal forests to the sea for a picnic and a swim. The Garden Route is also paradise for cycling enthusiasts, with many beautiful spots to explore for all ages and skill levels. And then of course, there’s the whale watching from Plettenberg Bay. It’s an ocean safari like no other. For those seeking an adrenalin fix, there are several paragliding launch sites close by.
Finally, the magic of Cape Footprints lies in the welcoming space it offers for people to create special memories together. Its capacious spaces, outstanding kitchen amenities, and proximity to all kinds of natural delights lends itself to team-building, reunions of friends and families after long separation, and the commemoration of important events. It is a place to cement longstanding relationships and to make new, lasting ones.
“Thank you for creating and sharing with us this special place for retreating, reflecting, restoring, reviving, realigning, refocusing, rebalancing and rejuvenating.” S&S from Cape Town.
Written by: Dolar Vasani, February 2022
Bookings can be made via: Hello Garden Route