Did you know that the 50 litres of water per person per day restriction still applies in Cape Town?
Just a few months ago Cape Town was experiencing endless hot days and humid, uncomfortable nights. Gardens and lawns were brown or dead, and covered pools were reduced to green puddles. There was only one topic of conversation. Water.
Social media was awash with water news and the #WaterCrisis and #DayZero tags trended for months. Disingenuous articles and fake news bombarded us daily and the world watched, waiting for this tourist town to run dry.
The people of Cape Town showed their creativity and resilience, and although the average citizen came to the water saving party late, the combined efforts averted the crisis and the news became positive.
The only topic of conversation was still water, but on a positive note. People shared tips, bought water harvesting tanks, carried buckets and got to grips with grey water. We measured consumption and stopped flushing, and suddenly going from 87 litres to using only 50 litres a day was not so tough. We were inspired by the challenge of proving the world wrong, and we did it.
Water warrior fatigue
A few months down the line the picture is a little different.
We have had some rain. Our JoJo tanks are full, swimming pool levels are rising, and the grass is green again. The Cape Town mornings are chilly, the sky is often cloudy, and the dew lies wetly on the lawns.
People are tired of carting buckets around; the 10 litre shower is not so easy when turning the tap off while you soap yourself brings out goose bumps. A soak in a shallow hot bath on a cold evening would be nice. When it rains, the city smiles, celebrates and catches every drop, but some of the urgency to save has gone.
I polled random strangers and was amazed how many were no longer conserving as they previously did, as they believed the restrictions no longer applied.
The other most common response was that people were getting a bit slack, and although the attitude to water has changed, they would welcome a brief respite, not to waste water, but to indulge just a little.
Take a break with a Water Smart Getaway.
The people at Mini asked me to contribute some ideas to their great campaign that involves exploring our incredible countryside, and saving the city water by getting out of town and adventuring to places where water is not as stringently rationed.
These are a few close to town destinations that make for a great drive and a little water indulgent adventure.
Hit the road for Elgin. This lush valley is just 70km outside of the city, accessed via the scenic Sir Lowry’s Pass and past the Steenbras Dam.
Go for the day or book into the Mofam River Lodge where you can have water adventures for days water skiing, wakeboarding, bass fishing, canoeing or taking a sunset river barge cruise. Quench your Cape Town thirst at one of the wineries of the Elgin Valley or try the local Apple Cider, this is fruit country after all.
Get as dirty as you like on the ultra, extreme ziplines high in the Hottentots Holland mountains with the Cape Canopy Tour, and enjoy a 15 litre shower back at your accommodation.
Pack some clothes and round up your favourite soaps and lotions and head for Caledon, 112km from Cape Town. The Caledon Hotel and Spa , complete with natural warm mineral baths awaits. Soak away months of dust and pamper your drought dried skin, then treat your car to a makeover at Rola Car Wash and Valet in the town. Refreshed and clean, try your luck at the Casino or enjoy a meal at the restaurant and have another indulgent soak in the mineral baths before heading for bed.
GANSBAAI AND HERMANUS
From Caledon it is a short drive with many tasty stops at the 12 wineries along the Hemel en Aarde road that takes you into Hermanus. Gansbaai is another 40km from Hermanus along a great road with incredible views. If you are travelling this way, bring your dirty washing on holiday with you, and drop it off at either Gwenda’s Laundry in Hermanus or Lemos Laundry in Gansbaai. Either way, you will have shiny whites and fresh smelling brights to put away when you return home, guilt free. Talking of guilt free, you can pop in to The Salon in Hermanus for a luxury wash, cut, colour or whatever without having to bring your own water.
On the adventure side, Hermanus is the land based whale watching capitol of the world, so keep a look out for those giant Southern Rights. Walk along the ridiculously pretty cliff paths, visit any of the plentiful restaurants, art galleries and curio shops. Savour beach views ,a full swimming pool ,and the timeless, elegant luxury of The Marine Hotel where a path will lead you down to a perfect beach and the Carchele Beauty Spa will restore you to your pre drought look.
Gansbaai is the home of responsible tourism and where you will find the perfect fusion of nature and luxury offered in an eco-friendly way at the incredible Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. You can get water wise tips from the experts while indulging in fine dining, nature walks, horse trails and a trip to ancient caves and pristine beaches. The pool has unrivalled views of Walker Bay, and a visit to Marine Dynamics to do and Eco Cruise in search of the Marine Big 5 is a remarkable ocean adventure. While you are searching for whales, sharks, penguins, seals and dolphins, your car can be enjoying the full treatment at Jane’s Car Spa in town.
THE WEST COAST
If you love driving why not explore the West Coast via the N7. The first stop is a detour through Piketberg and up to the top of the challenging Versveld Pass, a drive you won’t regret or forget. Drive down and get back onto the N7 and the sweeping curves of the Piekenierskloof Pass. Stop at the top at the Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort, enjoy a drink, meal or even some zip-lining or target shooting. Check in and you can use the outdoor pool with views far down into the valley, or soak in the heated indoor pool. Continue down the pass and towards the rugged Cederberg mountains, your final destination is The Baths at Citrusdal. There is water everywhere, and all you have to do is enjoy the mineral baths all day and night. The Baths are about 200 km from Cape Town but allow for a 3 hour drive.
The stylish but rugged Mini Countryman would be the ideal car to take you to your Water Smart Getaway. This 4 wheel drive beauty is the ultimate all-rounder and will handle any terrain required to meet your adventurous needs.
There are endless roads to explore and towns to visit, hit the road and find more Water Smart Getaways when you need a brief respite from being a water warrior in Cape Town.
For a comprehensive list of Water Smart Getaways, look at the ideas suggested here from Mini and Getaway Magazine.
Disclosure: This post is a collaboration with Mini South Africa. Opinions, as always, are my own.