Samhitakasha, South Africa - Rating Rating Rating Explained: The first 5 sections of this application each correspond to the 5 Criteria for Ecological & Socially Just Tourism

The maximum rating score we can award in each section is 5, and the minimum 1. When a criterion is fully met in our view we award 5 stars, when it is nearly met 4 stars, when it is partly met 3 stars, when it is not at all met but effort is being made to meet it 2 stars and when we feel that it is not at all met and no effort is being made to meet the specific criterion, 1 star. You may add a comment with improvement suggestions to the Lodge at the bottom of the page.

For detailed information on the free Rating System please see here.

Name of Property (Country): "Samhitakasha Cob House Organic B&B" (South Africa)


Satellite Map / Street View:

Lodge Address: 13 Watson Rd, Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa

Number of Rooms:

 One (1)

Average Double Room Rates:

ZAR 650 approx EUR 65 / USD 95

Name of Applicant (Title & Role):

Mr Simric Yarrow (Owner/Manager)

Official, Legal Proprietor(s):

The Yarrow family
Year of Construction / Operating Since: 2008 / January 2010

Rated on:

7 May 2011


1a. Who is/are the legal owner(s) of the Lodge? (please state official name if owned by a company)

The Yarrow family - Simric, Carey, Ralph (Simric's father)

Photo 1a:
The Yarrows i.e. Simric and Carey, with a recent cob-building guest inbetween! This is at our front door and also shows our two daughters and our resident security system.

1b. Who is/are the legal manager(s) of the Lodge?

Simric and Carey

1c. Since when has the facility been under the current ownership & management?

Since opening (Jan 2010)

1d. If owned by a family, since when has the family been residing in the area, and for how many months each year?

12 years, permanently in the suburb of Muizenberg. Longer in Cape Town generally.

1e. How are decisions taken and by whom? (Please provide details)

Jointly by Simric and Carey with occasional input from Ralph (who does not live permanently with us but has invested in the property).

1f. Who has access to the Lodge's facilities and its land and for what uses?

Privately owned - open to all paying guests! - though we also have occasional public open days for those interested in green building techniques.

1g. Who took the initiative to build this Lodge?

The Yarrow family.

1h. How did the (nearest) local community participate in the decision-making process concerning the founding and creation of this Lodge and how does it participate in its running?

Muizenberg residents have been generally very supportive of this unique suburban green building and many took part in building workshops we ran during the building process, but we make our own decisions according to our own eco-conscious and financial criteria.

Photo 1h: Local community workshop being run during the early phase of construction. Cob walls are healthy and building is a lightweight experience thus enabling people of all ages from 3 to 93 to take part in the construction experience.

1i. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?


2. ECONOMIC CRITERIA - 4 out of 5

2a. Number of rooms:

One (1) for guests.

2b. Number of beds:

Three (3), extra mattress possible on demand.

2c. What is the total area of the land of the property?

450 sq. m.

2d. What is the total covered area of the Lodge including rooms and common areas (in sq. metres)?

Just guest area is 30 sq m, but guests have garden access too.


Photo 2d: The property as seen from the garden. The guest room, which has a separate entrance, is seen top right. The rest of the house is our family home. Guests can access the garden, which is water-wise i.e. plants are indigenous or, where exotic, are not invasive or thirsty.

Photo 2d2: A view of the guest bedroom showing single bed and double in background. There are a number of other pictures that we could show – perhaps more flattering but less immediately useful for "showing what's there". Thick mud walls, furniture made from reclaimed wood by local artisans, natural fibre furnishings, conscious reading materials with ethical local interest.

2e. What is the total building footprint (in sq. metres) – i.e. part of the land covered by buildings

110 sq. m.

2f. How many employees are there (excluding yourself and members of the family)?

just us at present though we would like to be able to offer more local work as we grow. We employed many locals during the construction phase and trained them in green building skills, they have gone on to work on other similar projects.

Photo 2f: Construction of roof, one of our employees during the construction phase, having just made a new insulation straw/mud mix for insulating the roof. Construction employees were trained in a variety of techniques and then moved on to work at other eco-building projects or other organic employment.

2g. How many employees are from the (nearest) local village?

We are!

2h. If applicable, do employees or the community own any shares or share part of the revenue?


2i. What was the total turnover (total sales) in 2010?
(please state in your local currency)

Opening year - limited turnover, lots of capital set-up costs: ZAR 12 500 came in via the B&B.

2k. What were the total profits in 2010?

Net loss - around R40 000, covered by loans from our other private income.

2l. How are profits distributed, and who decides about it?

We decide jointly. As we reach a stage of profit over the next year or two we intend to distribute a percentage to
local eco-charities.

2m. Are there any national and local taxes to be paid or are you exempt?

We are not exempt but have not made any profit yet.

2n. What was the total amount of taxes paid in 2010?


Photo2n:  Part of our garden dedicated to fruit/vegetables. Figs, melons, garlic, lemon visible here. Some of these may form part of the breakfast (or supper) depending on what is fruiting. Garden herbs are more often a feature e.g. mint for water, basil for pesto. We also grow carrots, spinach etc. More will happen as the garden takes shape post-building site!

2o. What percentage of consumables are locally sourced, how many are nationally sourced, and how many are imported?

The Western Cape, and South Africa as a whole, is lucky in terms of the range of fruit that is grown. Most of our organic fruit and fruit juice is from the Western Cape, bananas come from other parts of the country. Dairy produce, breads, spreads all locally sourced from organic sources. Herbal organic teas are also locally sourced. There is no organic coffee produced at present in South Africa but we source the nearest fair trade organic coffee – from Malawi. Organic breakfast cereals – granola is local, cornflakes imported as (despite huge corn plantations) no organic cornflakes is made locally.

2p. Do you cultivate food for the guests?

When in season. Our garden is small and breakfast products limited! See above.

2q. Do you have any agreements with local producers?

Not directly but we do shop at local organic co-ops for our breakfasts.

2r. Have ever you received any funding, state, national, private or international and for what purposes?


2s. What is the minimum (low season) double room rate (including breakfast) per room per night?

R600 for two people (but we charge per person so 1 person takes the room for R300).

2t. What is the maximum (high season) double room rate (including breakfast) per room per night?

R700/R350 as above.

2u. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?



3a. Lodge Siting (how was the lodge location chosen):

Brown field site. Previous building on the site, demolished in 1960s, site empty ever since and placed in existing urban area. Also has beautiful mountain views, aesthetic appreciation for the environment is an important criteria with reconnecting our society with nature!

Photo 3a: House site in urban area, mountain (and cloud!) in background. Materials include: cob (earth, straw) plastered with lime, sand, clay; wood which is either reclaimed (sleeper lintels), sustainably harvested and organically treated (local siligna joinery and pine) or invasive aliens that needed cutting for water-saving (bluegum poles). Organic, non-toxic finishes. Roof – wood, straw insulation, clay, and bitumen sheeting for waterproofing, strong enough to support a "living roof" in future. Our tyre "green wall" is also visible including local prickly plants as a water-wise, aesthetically elegant alternative to regular fencing. Front door faces exactly due east – lots of window light and passive solar design, see garden view for the amount of north light we get! Also local blacksmiths involved in creating the gate/upstairs movable window-frame etc.

3b. Policy followed during construction:

Use the greenest materials wherever possible. Use local labour and materials as far as possible. Push the regulatory bodies as far as they could be stretched in terms of eco-conscious construction! Design with an aesthetic sense that would provide a natural, healthy, passive solar, light and (on an esoteric level) “spiritually beneficial” home.

3c. Lighting:

Electricity circuits designed to avoid creating electro-magnetic loops around dwellers in the house. Use of energy-saving light-bulbs.

Photo 3c: Conduits designed to travel around house without creating electromagnetic loops. This picture is from before we poured a final cob/dung floor downstairs that covered them.

3d. Heating:

Passive solar design and earthen construction has meant that even in midwinter we have an upstairs window we have been able to leave without glass i.e. open to the elements. We have plans for a slow-burning fireplace at some point but winters have so far indicated that this is not a priority. We have a solar water heater which provides most of our hot water.

3e. Cooling:

Natural cooling through breathing earthen walls. The house is cool in midsummer.

3f. Cleaning:

We use only biodegradable products.

3g. Water Management:

Grey water system in place recycling water to the garden, plans for water tanks and roof garden in future years as funds allow.

3h. Cooking:

Gas at present - South Africa provides no option to have “renewable electricity”.

3i. Waste management (in detail please):

Recycling - paper/cardboard/metal/plastics/glass - bin in guest room, we sort individually and then deposit regularly to the local recycling collection point. Compost including vermiculture worm bin for most vegetable waste, though some is still sent to landfill on principle that landfills NEED some vegetable waste to help the long term disposable materials to decompose.

3j. Insect, pest control:

We use natural mosquito repellents, provide our rooms with incense to keep them away, and no problems have been reported by guests as yet. Ants are repelled with use of tumeric lines as in India, other scavengers are kept away by clean habits in kitchen etc!

3k. Energy Sources, Use & Saving Measures:

Solar water heater as above, energy use is also low due to house design as noted above but we are connected to the grid at present. Intention to switch to more wind/solar power etc. as funds allow and possibilities become
more affordable.

3l. Noise Protection:

Thick walls which act as a good buffer.

3m. Name, population and distance of nearest settlement (in km or miles)?

We are located in Muizenberg, a beachfront suburb of Cape Town. Cape Town has over 3 million people.

3n. Is the Lodge accessible by public transport (such as bus, train, boat)? If yes, please provide instructions from nearest settlement:

Train stations 5 minutes walk away - False Bay or Muizenberg on the Simon’s Town/Fish Hoek metro line from Cape Town. From False Bay station, walk away from the mountain along Albertyn Rd, Watson Rd is the sixth road on the right and we are unmissable, one block down.

3o. Is the nearest settlement accessible by public transport (such as bus, train, boat)? If yes, please provide instructions from nearest International airport, or nearest major city.

(n/a - located in a suburb of a major city)

3p. Distance from nearby village / city:

(n/a - located in a suburb of a major city)

3q. Architectural Features:

Organic construction with natural curves, including curving wood trusses.

3r. Construction Materials:

Ground clay, ground sand, straw, organically treated timber (alien cleared gum trees).

3s. Landscape Management:

We use plants in our garden which are either entirely local or at least water-wise, our garden wall is constructed from recycled tyres which provide “green security” with the many plants growing from there. Our garden landscape is still somewhat in process after years as a building site - the soil on site being of various kinds according to what was piled there during construction. We also composted our garden areas widely before beginning house construction and continue to garden organically.

3t: Do you organise or promote tours involving hunting or sport-fishing?


3u: Do you measure consumption per guest at your lodge? If yes, please explain how, and provide data

Not at present, though we do keep an eye on our water bill etc. in peak season.

3v. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?


4. SOCIAL CRITERIA - 3 out of 5

4a. Do you provide health insurance and pension to your employees?

n/a - No employees at present

4b. Are your employees entitled to paid leave? If so, how many days each year?

n/a - No employees at present

4c. Are your employees entitled to maternity leave? How many months? Is it paid?

n/a - No employees at present

4d. Do you pay your employees above the minimum wage? (Please state minimum wage, and explain)

n/a - No employees at present

4e. What is the total you paid for wages last year? (excluding wages paid to yourself and members of your family)

n/a - No employees at present

4f. What is the average wage (per annum), the highest wage, and the lowest wage?

n/a - No employees at present

4g. Average and maximum working day, and work hours per week:

n/a - No employees at present

4h. Do you employ your staff all year round? (If not, please explain arrangement)

n/a - No employees at present

4i. Do you employ immigrants? Are they offered the same remuneration & benefits?

n/a - see above (though yes we would be happy to)

4j. Do you employ trainees? Please explain what type of tasks they perform, how much they are paid, how many hours do they work and how do you source them?

Not as yet.

4k. Do you use volunteers? Please explain what tasks they are given?

Have not been approached for this yet.

4l. Do you offer concessions to elderly visitors, students, young visitors, or nationals?

Children are half-price, under 2s are free. We do have a discount for pensioners/ students if at least two people (not necessarily both students/pensioners) are staying with us.

4m. Is there infrastructure for people with special needs at your Lodge?

Unfortunately our guest accommodation is upstairs so we are not wheelchair-friendly.

Photo 4m: Unfortunately our guest accommodation is upstairs. Here you can see more locally sourced wood, treated with a locally-developed organic varnish, plus the edges of our plumbing system (locally made and installed) which links from the shower to the grey water system – piping from underground into the garden.

4n. What measures are in place to protect the local (or the indigenous) population from some adverse impacts of tourism?

We provide an information pack to our guests on responsible tourism actions in the Cape region. This is attached here and also visible on our website.

4o. Do you undertake any poverty reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to poverty reduction?

(NO) We aim to contribute to eco-friendly charities as mentioned above once we start making profits, one of our favourites is involved in permaculture gardens in the townships.

Photo 4o: Organic market gardeners from the "Harvest of Hope" run by NGO Abalimi Bezekhaya, who we hope to be able to support more once we begin to turn profits. The farmers are trained in organic farming methods (permaculture) in their small township plots, feeding their families, and selling their surplus to the growing number of organic markets in the Cape.

4p. Do you undertake any inequality reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to inequality reduction?

Same as above. (NO)

4q. Do you undertake any injustice reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to injustice reduction?

As above (NO)

4r. What is the minimum, maximum and average age of your current employees (excluding yourself and members of the family)?

n/a - no employees

4s. How many employees do you have (excluding yourself and members of the family)?

0 (no employees)

4t. Is everyone accepted as guests or are there any restrictions?

Everyone is accepted.

4u. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?


5. CULTURAL CRITERIA- 4 out of 5

5a. Are you located within a village or city, or is there a village or city nearby? (please state name and distance in km or miles)

In Muizenberg, a beach suburb of Cape Town.

5b. Do guests interact with the local community and how:

We provide information on local activities, restaurants etc.

5c. What type of information is available to guests at the property:

Written brochures, local environmental magazines, books of local interest, oral information from us.

5d. What type of activities are available to guests at the property:

We can hire bikes out for those that ask in advance. There are many activities in the Muizenberg area (e.g. surfing, hiking, climbing, live entertainment) but on our own property there is principally the opportunity to relax, including in the garden, and also to learn more about cob building.

5e. Local guided tours for guests organised by you:

Registered tour guide for the Western Cape in-house, we run a large variety of private tours via our small company, OffBeat Tours, with an ethical/eco-friendly slant, but also tours taking in local culture and local spiritual/wellness practices. These usually go to the desired tourist sites but take in another more conscious slant and include additional stops that are more ethical/ecofriendly.

Photo 5e: Performance at Africa's only free public arts festival, which aims to bring the arts to people who normally cannot afford to attend such things. Simric is shown performing with Mac MacKenzie, the guitar maestro of local "goema" music – his tours have an insider knowledge of what's really worthwhile on the local scene. Below is another picture of him working with actors from Jungle Theatre Company, a company producing pieces emphasising environmental consciousness, largely performed for local schoolchildren in diverse communities and settings.

Photo 5e2: Another picture of Simric working with actors from Jungle Theatre Company, a company producing pieces emphasising environmental consciousness, largely performed for local schoolchildren in diverse communities and settings.

5f. Events / presentations held at the facility so far:

Many practical workshops on cob building, and talks on the process of cob building.

Photo 5f: local children's holiday programme which visited our site for a talk on earth-building. During construction many children got involved in a more hands-on way, but we can still provide plenty of practical information on earth-building for visitors.

5g. Specific programme for children:

We do not have a specific children’s programme ourselves, but we do have a play area in our garden, there are numerous beach activities for children close by, there is Planet Kids (a more conscious indoor play centre which
serves nutritious food etc.), and we can put families in touch with a number of more conscious school holiday activity providers.

5h. Academic Research and Academic Publications produced or assisted by the property so far:

None specifically though we have been mentioned in academic works on architecture and energy use.

5i. Is the local community at all involved in the operation of the Lodge and how?

At present, only when needed as occasional back-up support e.g. for checking-in.

5j. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?



Please sign to indicate your agreement with the following:

I hereby declare that all my answers are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge and understand that I and/or my company will not have the right to veto or 'hide' our Rating, which will be decided in the manner specified at if we find it unfavourable. I also understand that this rating application is valid for a maximum of 3 Years and a minimum of 1 Year. I may request a new rating application only after 1 Year from the day that my previous rating application was published online. By submitting this questionnaire I indicate acceptance of all Rating terms, conditions and procedures as stated at, and understand that these may be modified at any time without notice.

(Please enter (paste) your signature below or type your initials to indicate acceptance )

Your Name: Simric Yarrow - SMY
Your Email: simric1 [at]
Date: 9 March 2011 Rating: 4 out of 5