It would be difficult to imagine two people more passionate about their home environment, or more determined to both protect and share it with others, than a Kleinmond mother and daughter team with big dreams. They are Leticia and Louzanne Andreae and, appropriately, they are about to launch a new tourism initiative called Home Grown.
There was never any doubt that Leticia and her husband would retire to Kleinmond; her connection with the town goes back several generations. So after returning to this familiar and much-loved environment three years ago, it took little effort to persuade their daughter, a qualified game ranger and tour guide, as well as a passionate equestrian, to join them. And it didn’t take long for the two of them to put their heads together to dream up a tour company with a difference.
It seemed to them that for too long the primary focus of the Whale Coast tourism industry had been on Hermanus, leaving the small towns to its west feeling a bit like Cinderella at the ball. Yet, between Bot River and Rooiels, hidden in clear sight in the Kogelberg Biosphere is a treasure trove of riches, all of it just waiting to be re-discovered. An entrepreneur in her own right, Leticia has taken on the role of marketer and administrator and Louzanne will be contributing her vast experience as a tour guide to the operational aspect of the business.
“Responsible tourism and environmental education are absolutely central to our philosophy,” says Leticia. “It’s all about giving visitors an up-close-and-personal taste of what it’s like to live here, surrounded by all this incredible beauty. Whether it’s on foot, on horseback or in snorkelling gear, we want to offer them an unforgettable journey of discovery in the company of informed and professional guides.”
Home Grown will be officially launched this Thursday, but already these enterprising women have started introducing visitors to the joys of the region. Their main focus will be on organising unique adventure activities and because environmental education is so important to them, they are also planning to organise children’s birthday parties with a twist.
Backpacks stuffed with party goodies, the children will be taken on a hike and given a cool environmental experience like snake handling (with play-play snakes), or identifying edible plants, followed by ‘old school’ fun in the form of Boeresports. Another option for children would be a horse trail pony party.
For adults, the choices are endless, with a focus on the path less travelled. Another member of the Home Grown team is Sheldon Els, a young guide from Betty’s Bay who will take guests snorkelling in kelp forests along this magical coastline or give them a lesson in surfing. Of course a visit to the penguins at Stony Point goes without saying. In addition to the wealth of marine life, the diversity and riches of bird life in this area would make bird watching tours another obvious option, as would floral tours.
“Our philosophy is ‘local is lekker’,” adds Leticia, “and bearing in mind that surveys have shown that one of the things foreign tourists enjoy most is getting to know the locals, we are hoping to take them to homes in Proteadorp here in Kleinmond, to enjoy a traditional meal like snoek and patats or bobotie with the family. The residents of this area are real people, warm, relaxed and funny, proud of their heritage – definitely worth getting to know.”
And talking of food, gourmet picnic baskets will be a feature of most of their hikes and trails. “We’re all foodies in our family, you see,” laughs Louzanne, “so this simply had to be part of our package. Naturally all our ingredients will be absolutely fresh and locally sourced, each taste sensation designed to complement one of the magnificent wines of the region. This also fits in very well with the naming of the Overstrand as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.”
One of the things Louzanne is happiest about, though, is that she will get to lead horse trails. “I have been riding since I was a small child,” she says, “for about 23 years, in fact, including horse trails in the Waterberg and Mozambique. Since I’ve been here I’ve been very excited to slot in with Heaven and Earth Horse Trails on the Karwyderskraal Road.” One thing she and her mother both emphasise is that they are happy to collaborate with others in the local tourism industry, as long as they share similar values.
Another thing they agree on is their long-term desire to identify local youngsters who can be trained as tour guides. There is a real opportunity for income generation and job creation here, they point out, and nobody can be as passionate about promoting their environment to visitors as the young people who have been born and bred here.
“What we’re aiming to do is attract visitors for a bespoke weekend adventure”, says Louzanne. “There is excellent accommodation available at all price levels and we would be able to offer them a wonderfully diverse package of activities which would give them a real feel for this lovely, but undervalued section of the Western Cape.
“The Kogelberg Biosphere is so incredibly special and an increase in tourism will be an important generator of income for the region. We’re absolutely clear, though, that it must be sustainable, eco-friendly tourism with a minimum of disturbance and no damage at all to the natural environment. We love this home of ours and we want nothing more than to share the love.”
Home Grown can be contacted on 082 899 3354 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.homegrownsa.co.za