Houtkapperspoort has built up an extensive list of returning guests, who have become more like family.
With a name like that there must be a history, a reason, and the odd story too, so it should come as no surprise that Houtkapperspoort is what the area was in fact once called.
Way back in time, these parts were the heart of the wood supply for the Cape settlement with a voracious appetite for timber. Bands of woodcutters and their slaves hacked away at melkbos, wild olive and yellowwood for the Castle in the central city, as well as for ships that passed by the Cape, and numerous other end-users.
Sir John Herschel described the area as wild, deserted and inhospitable. Yet he saw it also as somewhat picturesque, with an “air of grand melancholy”, and he wrote in letters to England, evidently intended to impress his correspondent, of “more wolf and tiger tracks” than horse or cow hoof marks.
Originally there were ingenious attempts to float the timber cut in this area down the Disa River to the sea for shipping to Table Bay, but the wood was too heavy for the Disa and eventually had to be dragged by animal and man to the waiting ships.
Interestingly, two elephants were shot in 1689 after damaging young trees and the meat fed to slaves. In 1670, a 50 guilder reward was offered for shooting the “dangerous” lion in Hout Bay or south of Wynberg: an inducement which fortunately or otherwise must have worked since there are none around anymore.
Proclamation laid down that Hout Bay was the only place where wood could be chopped. Free enterprise did it some of the time, but the state or company socialism set in, and the VOC later became the only authorized woodcutter and seller.
The first recorded firebug case was in 1693: someone scarred the Kloof and valley with his reckless work. Sentences for incendiarism however, were blistering indeed – first offence, flogging… second, the gallows.
…and the Present
In spite of all of this damaging effort, the relative inaccessibility of the upper end of the Hout Bay valley, coupled with the high profile nature of the site, has left much of it relatively undeveloped. What has been built at Houtkapperspoort replaces a virtually impenetrable mass of wall-to-wall Port Jackson weed with an environment that has already offered pleasure to hundreds.
The extensive clearing and indigenous planting programme now underway will slowly restore the surroundings to what they once were, bearing in mind of course, that not everybody was happy with that.
Over the years better roads came, and now of course, Houtkapperspoort Resort is on a virtual freeway to the city centre, scenic as it is.
During 1984 fourteen hectare was purchased and sub-divided into two properties. After the completion of an extensive project to clear the grounds which were overgrown with alien trees, the first few cottages were built in 1985, and today Houtkapperspoort has expanded into a well known and loved holiday resort with 16 Self Catering cottages of different sizes, suitable and catering to every holidaymaker’s needs. Houtkapperspoort Resort Accommodation has built up an extensive list of returning guests, it is no wonder that most have become more like family.
From June 2012 management changed, and longstanding staff members are eager to implement new ideas and bring Houtkapperspoort back to its former glory. Part of the changes were our name. Houtkapperspoort has now proudly become Houtkapperspoort Mountain Retreat to celebrate a new beginning for us, as well as our guests.
Today Houtkapperspoort Mountain Retreat is a celebrated international Cape Town Resort, famous for its exquisite location on the back slopes of Table Mountain overlooking the Hout Bay Valley with the Sentinel Peak in the distance.
There is no finer setting in the fairest Cape…fresh, invigorating mountain air…endless forest paths…fynbos forever…and unsurpassable exclusivity.