About 180km’s outside of Cape Town, as you make your way through the Huguenot Tunnel and through the bustling town of Robertson… you take an almost secret turn-off and you end up on a road to the middle of nowhere. Driving down the tarred road, surrounded by the beautiful Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, you reach the charming village of McGregor which lies at the foot of the Riviersonderend mountains. The road into McGregor doesn’t lead anywhere else – the town is literally off the beaten track.
Once you enter, you immediately get the impression of a village lost in time… there are kids playing in the streets, beautiful old houses and the most interesting little shops… and there is pretty much no cellphone reception. To be honest, I cannot believe it has taken me this long to visit the town – it has a physical sense of isolation, and it is this isolation which has helped to preserve its historic beauty.
McGregor is a very small town… as in if you swerve your car to not hit a chicken you will probably miss it, but that is what I immediately loved about it. There aren’t really any road signs, yet it was not difficult to find our accommodation. Now let me start of by saying, besides the picturesque surroundings, staying at the Kite House was probably the biggest highlight of our trip. I know that accommodation is not always the most important part, but I fell in love with this house from the moment I walked past the olive trees in the courtyard and through the front gate. This is my ideal home… Even Mikayla asked if we could live there forever!
The Kite House is a gorgeous self-catering home with a wonderful double volume, fully equipped open plan kitchen and living area. Both the bedroom and living areas open on to a wide patio overlooking the garden and pool from where you are treated to spectacular views of the mountains. The beautiful, almost wild garden attracts a variety of birds – including a particularly friendly peacock. The Kite House can accommodate up to 6 people. The main house has two bedrooms, one of which has an incredible en-suite bathroom and the other featuring a small courtyard with an outdoor shower. I cannot tell you how much I miss the bubble baths… it was heaven laying in the deep tub, looking out the open windows and over the scented rose garden. There is a fully contained side cottage leading off the patio for another two people. You can relax on the spacious patio area with outdoor furniture, overlooking the gardens and swimming pool and there is an enclosed courtyard with a water feature which my kids loved playing in. The accommodation also features complimentary Wifi – handy in a town with no cellphone signal!
I cannot tell you how amazing it was to start our mornings with the distant hum of farm tractors and roosters crowing at the sunrise. No traffic, no city noise… just utter peace and tranquility. We started our mornings sitting on the patio, drinking coffee and watching the sun rise over the mountains and bringing the countryside to life. The rest of the day we took time to explore the village and it’s surroundings you will be surprised by the variety of things to do and the generosity you will encounter here. I have compiled a list of the 10 things you simply have to do when you visit at the end of this article. The rest of our afternoons were spent splashing in the big pool (and me drinking copious amounts of wine) and wandering around the beautiful preserved white-washed cottages nestle in half-wild gardens.
Idyllic comes to mind…
As we tried our best to cram in everything we wanted to do in the short time that we were there, we got to know some of the locals – most of whom drove into McGregor for a weekend and felt so at peace that they immediately made up their minds to move here and never look back. I wish! The people here are kind and very appreciative of tourists, but you have to slow your pace down to fit into their peaceful nature of life here. It is crazy that so many people, myself included, pass through Robertson onto the R62 without knowing what they are missing by not taking the turn off to McGregor. It is a true hidden gem, and once you visit the village you would want it to stay hidden so that you can have it all to yourself. Visit McGregor once – and you will want to return again and again. This little village has an unforgettable charm, a mysterious allure that is, quite simply, irresistible. I cannot wait to return!
Things To Do In McGregor
♥ Wine tasting at McGregor Wines
The winery imposes a unique charm of tranquility and history. The McGregor tartan is a well known brand in South-Africa and although it is not found on every supermarket shelf, it has a very loyal customer base.
The winery produces approximately 9 million litres of wine from 12 000 tons of grapes, including Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Colombar, Shiraz, Pinotage, Merlot, Ruby Cabernet and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pop in, relax and enjoy a tasting every day of the week, except Sundays. They are also open on most public holidays. Kid friendly (no jungle gym) and pet friendly. Their desert wine range is to die for!
tel: 023 625 1741
♥ Take the road to nowhere and go wine tasting at Lord’s Winery
This is well worth a visit, but important to note that they only serve food on weekends. We tasted the whole wine range and their sparkling wine is delicious! Last year, their MCC Brut walked away with trophy for the best, non-vintage blended brut at the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge and their Sauvignon Blanc 2014 won a gold medal at the 2014 Michelangelo International Wine Awards award.
They are pet and kid friendly, and the views are breathtaking.
For wine tasting and sales they are open from Monday to Friday, 9am -4pm and Saturdays from 10am – 3pm. They are closed on Sundays.
tel : +27 23 625 1265
♥ The Old Post Office – one of the most famous whiskey bars in the Western Cape
Cole, an avid whiskey lover, was beyond delighted to find this gem. Despite its desolate location, this whiskey bar boasts one of the most extensive whiskey collections in the Western Cape. As you have probably guessed, this used to be the old post office in McGregor and the building was restored in 1860. The owner, Chris Oldham, has an extensive knowledge and passion for whiskey.
Open 5:30PM – 11:00PM daily
tel: +27 23 6251571
cell: +27 83 258 6261
♥ Visit the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary
I was so sad that we could not tick this off our McGregor bucket list! We simply ran out of time and on the very last day it was raining. Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys. Here they are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment. The Sanctuary has a little restaurant that caters for Vegans and Vegetarians, but they do not have a liquor license – you are however welcome to take your own wine and they don’t charge corkage! There is also a visitors centre and gift shop. Kid friendly.
Donkeys are adorable….
Open Thursdays to Sundays 10am to 4pm
tel : +27 (0)23 625 1593
(images from the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary Facebook page)
♥ The Villagers farm stall & Rhebokskraal Olyf Kombuis
Villagers Farm Stall hosts Rhebokskraal Olyf Kombuis and Annalien van der Colff’s Art gallery where you can delight in colourful paintings and all their delicious olive products. Olive and juice tasting is open all day and it is kid friendly. They definitely have the best hot chocolate in town.
Open Monday to Saturday, 8am – 5pm
tel: +27 023 6251739
♥ Tebaldi’s Restaurant & Temenos Retreat
In the heart of the village of McGregor and set in the exquisite gardens of Temenos you will find Tebaldi’s restaurant. Named after the great Italian prima donna, here they celebrate a passion for good food, good wine and good music.
You can enjoy their seasonal weekend a la carte menu in our warmly inviting restaurant or enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner on their beautiful garden patio. On Wednesday and Thursday nights they offer a relaxed village menu . Breakfast and lunch are served daily from Tuesday to Sunday. They are not against having kids their, just don’t let the little terrors ruin the garden and you’ll be safe 😉
The Temenos garden is at the heart of McGregor and is named after an ancient Greek temple of healing. The beautiful gardens are a major highlight of the property – the Zen garden is for quiet contemplation, there is a Garden of Remembrance, a garden dedicated to Mother Theresa and an extensive rose garden. The extensive gardens are home to self-catering cottages, a maze, a chapel, a library, a meditation room as well as ducklings, ducks and peacocks. Designed along the lines of a contemplative monastery garden, you will find many spaces to be still and reflect. This might very well be the center of the universe…
Tel: +28 023 6251 115
Have I given you enough reason to visit? I could carry on…
The tranquil nature and pace of life in McGregor makes it an attractive destination for anyone wanting to simply get away from it all. If you would like to visit, I suggest you chat to the lovely people at McGregor Country Getaways to find the perfect accommodation to suit your needs!
Other places to check out in McGregor:
• The Overdraught Pub
• Tanagra Wine Farm
• The Saturday Morning Market
• The Art Route, including Millstone Pottery and Edna Fourie Gallery
• Movies and music at Wahnfried
• Karoux Restaurant
• Green Gables Restaurant & Country Inn
Did you enjoy this post? If so, please leave a comment, share it with your friends and give it a like on Facebook and Twitter ♥ If you have visited McGregor, tell us what your favourite part of your visit was!
Other places that we have visited around the Western Cape of South Africa:
• Mosaic Private Sanctuary in Stanford – A definite must to add to your bucket list.
• Franskraal – one of our favourite coastal family holiday destinations