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Happy young travellers jumping for joy on a beach

 22 August 2018  Why Volunteer?


The town of Hout Bay (“Wood Bay”) is situated in a valley 20km south of Cape Town on the Atlantic Seaboard of the Cape Peninsula. There are only three ways in and out of the valley. The fact that it is geographically set apart from the rest of the city has caused its residents to refer to their valley as the “Republic of Hout Bay”. If you enter from the Constantia Nek side you will be greeted by a sign that welcomes you to the said republic. Visitors can even get a “passport” that entitles them to various specials and discounts in the town. The two other entrances to the bay: Chapman’s Peak Drive, and Victoria Drive, both wind their way alongside the shore of the Atlantic Ocean and are amongst the most stunning strips of road to be seen in the whole of South Africa. HoutBayans don’t mind coming home. The rest of the population don’t mind coming in. Most don’t like leaving.

Hout Bay can, in many ways, be seen as a microcosm of South Africa. Although very much integrated as a community, the residential areas are still as separate from each other as they were in the bad old days of Apartheid. The three main ethnic groups live in different areas of the valley. One group live in what is effectively a slum, or “township” where living conditions are poor and most of the population live close to the breadline. Here, disease, alcoholism and malnutrition are some of the most pressing problems. Another group, traditionally a fishing community, live in the shadow of Hangberg mountain, above the working harbor. The major challenges here are drugs and gangsterism. The third community consists mainly of middle class South Africans and wealthy Europeans who own opulent holiday houses here.

The disadvantaged communities of Hout Bay are in desperate need of help. There is hope though, in the form of the some 80 NGOs in the valley. These range from fire and ambulance services, to after school daycare facilities for disadvantaged kids to community projects that aim to empower communities by facilitating the making of arts and crafts. There are also projects for domestic animals as well one which aims to protect the natural environment. Foreign volunteers from all over the world play a large part in supporting some of these community projects. Travelers from Brazil, Australia, the UK and Germany all choose to come and help out in Hout Bay. They come principally to volunteer at these projects, but also to partake of the many and varied tourist activities on offer. These include Blue Flag beaches, walks through forests on the way up to the famed Table Mountain, beach horse rides, one of the most popular markets in Cape Town and many world class hotels. There is so much to do here, the topic requires a new sentence: boat rides, snorkeling with seals, a wine route, a canopy tour, Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuary, surfing, fishing boat charters, a museum and even a wine route which includes South Africa’s oldest wine farm.

Tourists who opt to visit Hout Bay as volunteers benefit by experiencing the sense of self-worth that comes from giving, whilst at the same time partaking of all that Hout Bay and Cape Town have to offer. This modern kind of volunteering tourism has a name: voluntourism. It’s a growing industry among, not only millennials, but most other age groups as well.

10 July 2018  There is no more water crisis in Cape Town.


There is no more water crisis in Cape Town. Due to bountiful, unexpected rain in the winter months, the water crisis is more like a water shortage. The dam levels have risen from 10% to 57% over the last few months, with many dams being 100% full. So come to Cape Town, learn what we’re doing to save water and feast on its natural beauty, culture and magic!


6 February ’18. With a knick knack Paddy Whack Give a Dog a … Book?


What does the term “it’s a dog’s life” really mean? Is it a good thing? Not so much? For some dogs, especially those at our Domestic Animal Rescue Project, it means both. The two life stages can usually be divided into two categories: before and after they arrive here. Most of the dogs we receive have been neglected, abused or abandoned. Far from having been given a bone, they are the bones. After a few weeks at the project though, they start to come alive again. There are countless tales of tails beginning to wag again. More importantly though are the stories of our 4Paw friends finding their new Forever Homes.

Strangely enough, the project needs money to keep going, and some of our volunteers recently started an initiative that’s taken off faster than a prizewinning Geryhound Whippet Speeding Bullet cross: a bookshop, cryptically named The Bookshop. The idea of selling used books had been running some time before The Bookshop opened its doors, with the books stored all higgledy piggledy in one corner of the main building. Many were covered in dog hair, and any attempt to read the blurb would barking be barking interrupted by barking barking. And then came the message. The cousin of a friend of  VCT was moving and had decided to donate their wooden Wendy House to us. The logistics were worked, a kind transport company agreed to move it at cost, the cost covered by a local philanthropist. And so The Bookshop was born. It’s packed from floor to ceiling with books and rows and rows of the same. Books are sold at less than a dollar apiece and they fly in and out faster than a book shaped bird. The Bookshop is making a lot of dog tummies very full and VCT are very grateful to be part of this initiative. If you’re a literary dog lover, you’re in a 777 here, come on in and get involved.


20 November 2018.  A Volunteer’s Perspective


Hout Bay is a place of EXTRA-ORDINARY BEAUTY. I write that in capitals because you would be hard pressed to find such beauty anywhere else in the world. The Mountains are rugged and majestic both at sunrise with the sun shining on the soft greeny-brown Karbonkelberg and illuminating the Sentinel keeping guard over the picturesque Harbour with its picture perfect Yacht Basin, the seals swimming in the shallow water as you enjoy a breakfast over or on the water’s edge at your choice of eateries.

At sunset the Constantiaberg Mountains are tinted pinky-red as the sun goes down. The choices of “What to do in Hout Bay” are vast and varied: for those who love fine dining – we have a selection: Kitima for Asian Cusine of the highest quality – their Sunday Lunches are a gastronomic Feast. Mariner’s Warf – Specializing in Seafood but catering to all. Steak and Ribs are served at a delightful restaurant “Pirate’s” – good vibe and good sport’s pub too – Big screen TV. As far as elegant, light meals go, “La Cucina” great for late breakfast, lunch and delicious cake and coffee – Dario’s is also a little family- run establishment within 5 minutes walking distance from MONTANA MUSE – superb coffee, cake and salads. Of course there is always fish and chips to take away or just enjoy informally while watching the bird life over the water.

That takes care of food.

Now on to other things:

1) Hout Bay offers any number of magnificent walks  – on the beach, up the mountain – even serious climbers can be challenged.

2) Take a boat trip around the bay or to Seal Island and the wreck of the “John Ross” OR Enjoy a Sunset Cruise on one of the Pleasure Boats

3) Spend a morning or most of the day entranced and delighted by the spectacle of “The World of Birds”, the largest Bird Sanctuary in Africa.

4) Charter a boat for Deep Sea Fishing, some of the best in South Africa.

5) Horse Riding can be arranged through the Hout Bay Riding School – see Hout Bay, Llandudno and Sandy Bay on horseback through and over the dunes.

6) On a Thursday morning there is an Organic Market that takes place at the health shop around the corner on Victoria Avenue – superb cheeses, fresh produce, preserves and scrumptious home bakes.

7) Walking through the working harbour is interesting and can be entertaining especially when the local Minstrel Group gives their impromptu performances for passersby.

8) Hout Bay hosts a very popular Week-end Market “Bay Market” – in Summer it starts on Friday night and continues through to Sunday evening – Winter months – Saturday and Sunday a fabulous place for food, fun, wonderful browsing and shopping – even listening to the Brass Band.

9) Hout Bay has every convenience imaginable: Woolworths, Checkers, Super Spar, Clicks, Doctors, Dentist, Physiotherapists, Beauty Salons, Hairdressers, Speciality and Craft Shops, Jewellery, Fashion Shops for children and Adults.

10) AND Who could miss a drive over Chapman’s Peak – this is a photographer’s dream at any and all times of day or night – unsurpassed beauty!!! I could go on and on……. HOUT BAY is so convenient – it is centrally situated to the Winelands of the Constantia Valley (10-15mins), The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (15-20 mins), The V&A Waterfront (20 mins), A ride up Table Mountain (20 mins), The 2010 World Soccer Stadium (20 mins) – all of these destinations via a scenic sea front drive under the Twelve Apostle Mountain Range. Not forgetting the scenic drive to Cape Point Nature Reserve via Chapman’s Peak, Noordhoek, Kommetjie etc. Geographically HOUT BAY is just 18km’s from Cape Town’s city centre but spiritually it is a country village.

Anya Svendsen, Denmark