South Africa’s most immersive and game-changing dining experience
After three years of research into the culinary traditions and ingredients of the cultures and communities that call the Kalahari home, South Africa’s first Michelin-starred chef, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, has opened Restaurant Klein JAN at Tswalu Kalahari. Creating Klein JAN has been the much-loved chef’s great homecoming project, an opportunity to tell some of the stories of the Northern Cape region on every plate – stories of an off-the-radar place of extremes and vast landscapes. A place where life is determined by the absence or presence of rain, and where resources are preserved for leaner times in a year of plenty.
Jan felt an instant connection to the vastness of the Kalahari and knew that the time had come to open his first restaurant on home soil and to elevate the unsung heroes of the Northern Cape and their superior produce and products. Opening Klein JAN at Tswalu, rather than in South Africa’s foodie capital of Cape Town, added authenticity and sustainability clout to the venture, echoing the importance of local expression, provenance and procurement that Jan and his team have nurtured at the Michelin-starred Restaurant JAN in Nice, France, which first opened in 2013.
Jan traveled across the semi-arid Kalahari and explored ingredients and local cuisines from independent producers, fourth-generation farmers and artisan specialists. He gathered tried-and-tested recipes, many of them passed down by word of mouth through the generations. What all these small-scale farmers and suppliers had in common is the creativity born out of resourcefulness that comes from living and working in the remote Northern Cape province where your closest neighbor might be over 62 miles away. The region’s under-explored ingredients, including boutique, family-owned wineries and distilleries, provided endless inspiration for the menus at Klein JAN.
The wide, open spaces of Tswalu Kalahari have long drawn those seeking a deeply layered, authentic and immersive safari. Tswalu is a vast, magical land of infinite possibility, with sweeping vistas and a liberating sense of space. The green Kalahari is nature at its most diverse and surprising, and to spend time here is to be touched by exuberant, soulful beauty. Considered important for thousands of years, Tswalu is now striving to conserve this breathtaking landscape for future generations. A commitment to celebrating local provenance, heritage and culture, as part of Tswalu’s journey towards greater sustainability, makes the reserve the perfect home for Klein JAN.
Jan and his team of chefs, overseen by Executive Chef for Tswalu, Marnus Scholly, are working together to provide a series of modern Kalahari courses prepared in a sleek, open-plan kitchen. Every aspect of Klein JAN has been carefully designed and curated, including the chairs made from repurposed French oak wine barrels. A glass wall opens up in fine weather, creating a fully immersive dining experience in the undulating plains of the Kalahari. Other features include the subterranean root cellar, located 13 feet below the ochre sands of the Kalahari. To access the cellar, guests step back in time at the 100-year-old Boscia House before opening a door in the side of an original plaasdam (farm dam) and descending a helical staircase infused with the unmistakable scent of petrichor. The 65-foot, temperature and humidity-controlled root cellar stores all the ingredients and produce used at Klein JAN, not dissimilar to storage solutions prior to modern-day refrigeration.
Guests staying at Tswalu Kalahari’s Motse camp or Tarkuni homestead are invited to enjoy one extraordinary, sensory dining experience at Klein JAN as part of their stay.
Restaurant Klein JAN is open to day visitors for a lunch service on select dates each month.
(Image: Adriaan Louw)
Kiara Scott, the talented young winemaker of Brookdale Estate in the Paarl Winelands, has received recognition from WineLand magazine as one of 2021’s most promising young wine ambassadors in the South African wine industry.
WineLand Media, in collaboration with ROTOCON, honoured 30 young professionals who are making their mark in the South African wine industry. The June 2021 issue of WineLand magazine, with the theme 30 Under 30, pays tribute to these 30 individuals from across the country. ‘Our goal is to pave the way to prosperity,’ says editor of WineLand Media, Wanda Augustyn. ‘To make this dream a reality, we have to identify and give recognition to the young voices in the industry who are making a difference, by shining the spotlight on them. They will become the leaders of tomorrow and we want to tell their stories, share their visions for the industry and help shape their future.’
Kiara Scott (29) has been the winemaker of Brookdale since 2019, following two years as assistant winemaker of the estate, where she worked alongside consultant winemaker Duncan Savage to establish Brookdale’s reputation as a producer of wines of character and elegance. She was born in the Cape Flats and graduated from Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in Viticulture and Oenology in Stellenbosch. She was then selected for the 3-year CWG Protégé Programme, where she gained valuable experience under David Nieuwoudt (Cederberg Cellars), Carl van de Merwe (De Morgenzon) and Charles Hopkins (De Grendel), and had the opportunity to work vintages in the Rhône Valley, Sancerre and the Russian River in Sonoma (California). She says: ‘I have a simple and minimal intervention approach to winemaking. I believe that great wines are made in the vineyard. Year on year I am aiming to better understand our vineyards and soils to make the work in the cellar easier.’
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Klein Drakenstein mountains in Paarl, Brookdale Estate produces wines as unexpected as they are enchanting. A true Cinderella story, Brookdale was once overgrown and underused. The Rudd family, originally from the United Kingdom, recognised the potential of the property and acquired the 67-hectare estate in 2015. Their vision was to create a world-class country estate producing fine wines, including interesting blends crafted from varietals that are somewhat ‘unusual’ in South Africa. A single block of old-vine Chenin Blanc, estimated to be about 36 years old, was saved to become Brookdale’s maiden release in 2017. Currently, Brookdale produces this flagship Chenin Blanc, as well as a range of Mason Road wines, which includes a Chenin Blanc, Syrah and Rosé produced from newly planted vineyards. The Rudd family also set out to further restore the balance of nature on the estate by clearing 27-hectares of alien vegetation. Indigenous vegetation was planted, including 3700 trees, as well as expansive gardens for Manor House resident guests to explore. The Brookdale Manor House provides luxury accommodation for up to 12 guests.
The summer of 2021/2022 will see the opening of a new Cellar, Wine Tasting Experience and Restaurant on site at Brookdale.
Esteemed wine critic Jancis Robinson recently published ‘A South African miscellany‘, awarding a 17.5 out of 20 score to the Brookdale Chenin Blanc 2019 – effectively placing it amongst the highest rated Chenin Blancs in South Africa.
‘Powdery, fragrant honeysuckle and jasmine with sweetness of ripe white peach. Creamy, tingling, richly textured spreading all over the palate. Apricots and avocado, matcha powder and tarragon and dripping ripe white melon. A quiet tap-tap of pepper on the scalpel-fine drawn-out finish. Elegant and beautifully composed. This is a seriously classy, sophisticated-artisan Chenin,’ says Robinson who was internationally recognised as ‘the Best Wine Critic of the World’ in the Best Wine of the World Competition 2018.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Klein Drakenstein mountains in Paarl, Brookdale Estate produces wines as unexpected as they are enchanting. A true Cinderella story, Brookdale Estate was once overgrown and underused. The Rudd family, originally from the United Kingdom, recognised the potential of the property and acquired the 67-hectare estate in 2015. Their vision was to create a world-class country estate producing fine wines, including interesting blends crafted from varietals that are somewhat ‘unusual’ in South Africa.
A single block of old-vine Chenin Blanc, estimated to be about 36 years old, was saved to become Brookdale’s maiden release in 2017. New vineyards were planted, and the Rudd family set out to further restore the balance of nature on the estate by clearing 27-hectares of alien vegetation. Indigenous vegetation was planted, including 3700 trees, as well as expansive gardens for Manor House resident guests to explore.
As ardent wine connoisseurs, Brookdale Estate is the pinnacle of the Rudd family’s passion. Here, Mediterranean varietals, a unique Paarl terroir and unusual winemaking techniques are brought together under the visionary hand of Tim Rudd, talented young winemaker Kiara Scott and consultant winemaker Duncan Savage.
The summer of 2022 will see the opening of a new Cellar, Wine Tasting Experience and Restaurant on site at Brookdale.
Despite the travel industry’s troubled times in the wake of the pandemic, FIVESTAR PR has not only retained its longstanding clients – Tintswalo Lodges, Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Jock Safari Lodge, but is growing from strength to strength having signed up several new hospitality and lifestyle clients over the past few months.
Janie van der Spuy who heads up FIVESTAR PR says: ‘Naturally, it has been a very difficult year for the industry, but it is encouraging to see that intuitive clients continue to invest in marketing and PR, recognizing that they will reap the benefits once travel normalises.’
The boutique agency has taken over PR representation of The Liz McGrath Collection, which includes Cape Town’s Cellars Hohenort Hotel and Greenhouse Restaurant, The Marine Hotel in Hermanus and The Plettenberg in Plettenberg Bay.
It has also been contracted to provide PR support to members of international marketing agency, Inspirational Places, including recently launched Perivoli Lagoon House and Mosaic Lagoon Lodge outside Stanford, as well as Schoone Oordt in Swellendam, The Residence in Houghton (Johannesburg) and Federal Airlines.
Another feather in its cap is the appointment of FIVESTAR PR on the marketing team to launch Brookdale Estate in Paarl, a top-end boutique winery with luxurious Manor House accommodation, as well as a restaurant and wine tasting centre that is currently under construction.
‘We operate in a niche market of small, privately owned luxury boutique hotels, safari lodges and lifestyle brands. A solid track record and proven results over more than 20 years in the PR business has stood us in good stead, once again affirming that in the PR industry reputation is everything,’ van der Spuy says. ‘Now is not the time to take a back seat. The PR industry has to be proactive and work smarter and harder than ever before, albeit within a smaller media network, in order to maintain a public presence and exposure for our clients.’
‘It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s encouraging to see the rebirth of some lifestyle titles such as House and Leisure and Woman & Home. Many niche publications have not only survived, but are even thriving. In terms of the travel and hospitality industry, business has shifted to the local market and South African travellers now have the opportunity to book iconic travel experiences locally, at rates that may never be repeated. It’s our mission to carry this message into the market and to make sure that when they do book that bucket list trip locally, they choose our clients,’ she concluded.
Tintswalo has opened a dedicated kosher kitchen at its family Camp in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg, 2,5 hours’ drive from Johannesburg. The kosher kitchen operates independently from the lodge catering facilities and is fully equipped and designed for food preparation according to Jewish kosher dietary laws. Kosher chefs are available, as well as kosher wines and grape juice to offer a professional catering service to Jewish families. Guests have the option to book the lodge on an exclusive-use basis, whilst self-catering is available if a group prefers to bring in their own kosher chef.
Tintswalo Family Camp Welgevonden is the ideal destination for a multi-generational family safari, religious celebrations and small weddings. The lodge can sleep between 10 and 16 guests, accommodating up to 20 guests when some bathrooms are shared. The accommodations are private, spreading across five spacious, freestanding suites with between one and three bedrooms each. Children of all ages are welcome, and the camp is protected by electric fencing against predators and dangerous game to allow the young ones the freedom to run around and explore.
Comfortably furnished, Tintswalo Family Camp is a home-away-from-home all year round, featuring warm and welcoming communal lounge areas with large fireplaces, as well as a spacious entertainment room that may be converted into a private function room. The lodge is also geared for outdoor living, sporting an expansive deck with lounge and dining areas overlooking the swimming pool and poolside loungers. The Welgevonden Game Reserve comprises of 36,000 hectares of pristine bushveld and ranks amongst South Africa’s largest private game reserves, and is home to a great variety of game, including the Big Five. Within the camp is a viewing deck facing a waterhole, while twice daily safari activities are included. Special rates are available for SA Residents until 19 December 2021.
Federal Airlines has reaﬃrmed its commitment to continue oﬀering special fares for SA and SADC residents until the end of 2022, following a strong increase in forward bookings.
FedAir introduced specials fares for South African & SADC residents in November 2020 as part of its reintroduction of ﬂights following the travel restrictions experienced in South Africa last year. Since then, SA & SADC resident customers ﬂying to safari lodges on the FedAir shuttle ﬂight programme have been able to make use of FedAir special fares that start from R2850 per person one-way, including taxes. The FedAir network includes the Sabi Sand and Timbavati Game Reserves, Garonga and other Hoedspruit area lodges in the Eastern region of South Africa, as well as Madikwe Game Reserve in north western South Africa.
Commenting on the positive developments, Federal Airlines CEO Mark Hurst stated: “With the surge in safari lodge domestic vacations, the airline was encouraged with the number of bookings over the recent Easter period. We continue to receive positive feedback from customers about our response to the needs of travellers and the travel trade, as we recover from the eﬀects of the pandemic. We will continue to oﬀer SA & SADC resident fares on our regular shuttle ﬂight programme, all of which form part of our ongoing ﬁrm commitment to support domestic tourism industry initiatives and safari lodge connectivity and sustaintability.”
FedAir recently amended some of its booking terms, adding ﬂexibility for customers who wish to make changes or cancel within prescribed periods. The SA and SADC Resident rates, which have proved extremely popular, remain available until the end of 2022 and can be booked via the lodges. In addition to the Shuttle Services, the Private Charter division of FedAir continues to oﬀer customised, exclusive charter ﬂights to meet personal schedules and requirements as required.
About Federal Airlines
Federal Airlines (FedAir) is one of the most multi-faceted aviation companies in South Africa. FedAir innovated the service of doing guest shuttles out to some of Africa’s most stunning luxury safari lodges in the 90’s, and since have partnered with world leaders in luxury safari experiences as part of their commitment to raise the bar in bespoke aviation. As a result, FedAir has become renowned for delivering a unique and seamless travel experience unparalleled in the market with shuttle services to luxury safari lodges and charter services. Operating out of its own exclusive African-themed terminal departure lounge, customers can enjoy complimentary refreshments, canapes and light meals before stepping directly out on the tarmac to board the aircraft.
The company philosophy is to hold customer service in the highest regard, delivering on the promise of reliability, safety and excellence in shuttle and charter ﬂight services.
FedAir currently operates Beechcraft 1900, Pilatus PC12, Cessna Caravans C208B and Embraer ERJ145 aircraft, providing a versatile and reliable ﬂeet to service lodge destinations.
MHONDORO GOES OFF THE GRID: CELEBRATING ITS 5th BIRTHDAY WITH LODGE REVAMP AND NEW ECO-FRIENDLY INITIATIVES
Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa is celebrating its 5th birthday with the unveiling of an extensive revamp that took place over the past few months. The 5-star lodge, situated in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo province), also earned three major accolades in the 2020 Haute Grandeur Global Hotel Awards, which voted Mhondoro the Best Family Villa on a Global level; Best Pool Villa in Africa; and Best Safari Lodge in South Africa.
In line with the vision of the Dutch owners, Frank and Myriam Vogel, to further reduce the carbon footprint of the lodge, various eco-friendly initiatives have been put in place. Mhondoro is the proud owner of a major solar power installation of 620 solar panels and batteries. This is the largest solar operation at a lodge in Limpopo province and has successfully taken the operation off the grid to be self-sufficient in terms of all its electricity requirements.
Other projects include investing in a grey water filtration system for irrigation around the lodge, and the use of glass decanters and personalised steel water bottles for guests to minimize the use of plastic water bottles. Guest check-in is being done online to reduce the use of paper and re-usable leather wallets have been introduced for staff gratuities that will save 2000 envelopes per year. Mhondoro recycles all glass, paper and plastics used at the lodge, and has an agreement with Nespresso to recycle used coffee pods and grinds.
Lodge improvements include the refurbishment and redesign of guest suite bathrooms, the extension of decks and the addition of plunge pools to all suites (excluding Family Suites for child safety reasons). Soft furnishings and décor items have also been updated throughout the lodge.
Mhondoro has also purchased two farms measuring about 2 400 hectares adjoining Welgevonden Game Reserve. These tracks of derelict farmland are being rehabilitated and over time will become protected wilderness areas. A section of one of the farms is already being utilized to grow fresh produce for use at the lodge. It includes a chicken coop for farm fresh eggs and a greenhouse where herbs and vegetables are grown, with surplus produce donated to the surrounding communities.
Mhondoro sleeps a total of only 24 guests in two Luxury Pool Suites; a 2-bedroom Executive suite with en-suite bathrooms and a plunge pool; a 2-bedroom Family Deluxe suite with 2 en-suite bathrooms; another Family Suite with 2 bedrooms and a shared bathroom; a romantic Honeymoon suite with a private plunge pool and viewing deck with a daybed; and an exclusive-use Villa that can accommodate six adults.
Unique features include a custom-built stargazing ‘star deck’ and a waterhole with underground game viewing hide that is connected to the main lodge by a 65m reinforced concrete tunnel. Other lodge facilities extend to a gym, infrared sauna and heated swimming pools for all year-round swimming, and a dedicated Spa complete with a private, outdoor spa deck and bath.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge has received wide acclaim for its exciting virtual safaris which have been viewed online over the past year by millions of fans locally, and all over the world. When level 5 hard lockdown first kicked in and its lodges were deserted, Tintswalo acted swiftly and instinctively to find a creative way to continue communication with loyal guests.
In the African bush nature played out as it had since the beginning of time, and the guides of Tintswalo Safari Lodge continued their early morning game drives to monitor animal activity and conservation within the reserve. Getting up at the crack of dawn, they started filming what became known as the ‘On the Beat in the Manyeleti’ virtual game drives, which were broadcast on social media around the globe.
The first virtual safari went live on 25 March 2020 with 41 092 views. Now, exactly a year and 178 episodes later, Tintswalo’s Virtual Safaris have received an astonishing 7,4 million views from followers all over the world.
Says Alistair Leuner, Regional General Manager of Tintswalo’s Safari Operations: ‘During lockdown social media became a lifeline for many people as a way to connect to the world out there. People were looking to escape boredom and isolation and were searching for interesting and meaningful content. It was a great opportunity for Tintswalo to not only bring the bush right into their living rooms, wherever they were, but also to inform and educate the public about various important conservation issues.’Hosted and narrated by experienced guides, each and every virtual safari brought new adventures to the screen. From tracking the day-to-day movements of a herd of elephants and exhilarating sightings of wild dogs passing through the area, to following the Manyeleti’s magnificent Mbiri pride and finding a lion cub in a tree. Heart-warming comments and support poured in daily from fans far afield. This was ‘reality TV’ at its most authentic best!The game rich Manyeleti Nature Reserve is known world-wide for its Big 5 sightings, but also for its birdlife and many smaller and other interesting creatures. Tintswalo’s ‘On the Beat’ virtual safaris include video footage of actual sightings and personal encounters experienced by game rangers on patrol. Whilst nothing beats going on safari in real life, Tintswalo’s virtual safaris are still continuing and are said to be an inspiration to many viewers who are planning their ‘bucket list’ safari trip of a lifetime.
Videos are uploaded daily on all Tintswalo’s social media channels:
Tintswalo Boulders Boutique Villa (Simon’s Town, Cape Town) has extended its culinary offering with the introduction of in-house dining options for resident guests. In addition to Tintswalo’s signature breakfast feast that is included in the rate, guests may now order family-style platters and dessert to enjoy dinner on the terrace overlooking Boulders beach, in the wind-protected courtyard around the firepit, or in the spacious indoor dining areas on chilly evenings.
A variety of wholesome, 2-course menus are available to choose from, including Mustard crust roast beef and jus with a steamed green veg medley, duck fat potatoes, Tintswalo salad and freshly baked breads, followed by Mini-lemon meringue. Other options include Sea bass & prawn curry with carrot, red onion and coriander salad, served with steamed basmati rice and papadums, ending on a sweet note with a Chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate mint glaze. Light meals are also available for lunch, including salads and sandwiches, as well as a Cake of the day. The villa is now also licensed and offers a full bar and wine list.
Tintswalo Boulders offers guests direct access to the boardwalk leading to the famous penguin beaches, and since opening two years ago, has become a popular destination for celebrations and for families with children.
Tintswalo Lapalala has launched two conservation participation experiences that offer guests the unique opportunity to join the Lapalala conservation team in rhino and elephant research and monitoring activities in the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo Province).
Lapalala Wilderness Nature Reserve is committed to ensuring the survival of Africa’s rhinos and in doing so, applies best practice research, management and monitoring of these magnificent animals. As part of these management programmes, the reserve conservation and veterinary teams are in the process of implementing various monitoring methods which include, ear-notching, DNA sampling, as well as the inserting of microchips on each animal.
Guests are invited to participate in one of these Rhino Experiences that will take place on four specific dates throughout 2021 (May 7-9; June 18-20; July 16-18; August 20-22). The veterinary team will dart and immobilize a white or black rhino and participants may assist with monitoring the animal during the capture. The DNA collection forms part of the Rhino DNA Indexing System (RhODIS), which is a forensic tool that stores a unique genetic fingerprint for every rhino that has been sampled using blood, tissue and horn. It also plays an important part in Lapalala’s rhino security initiative and its fight against poaching as DNA data may be used as evidence in court.
The Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is located within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the past 40 years the reserve has become a beacon for wildlife research and conservation in South Africa. Recognised as one of the largest and most scenic private reserves in southern Africa, its abundance of flora plays home to a vast array of wildlife that is protected within its 48 500 hectares. This includes 300 bird species, 50 fish species, 147 mammal species, 114 reptile species, 33 amphibian species and various breeding projects. Eco-friendly Tintswalo Lapalala is operated off the grid to accommodate only 16 adults and four children, and as one of only two lodges within the reserve, it guarantees a rare, and personalised wilderness experience.
Guests may also have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the giants of the bush during an Elephant Collaring operation. The 27 elephants within the reserve are carefully monitored as part of the sustainable management of the population. From time to time, as an elephant collar needs to be replaced, a small group of guests have the chance to join this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Guided by an experienced ranger, the group is driven in an open 4×4 safari to meet up with the helicopter used to locate and dart the elephant. Guests may assist the veterinary team in monitoring the elephant’s vital signs, such as breathing rate and temperature. DNA samples are collected while the elephant’s collar is replaced, before the tranquiliser wears off and the elephant is free to join its herd again.