The first time I visited McGregor was to walk the rather intense but scenically beautiful Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail that traverses the rocky hills and valleys between there and Greyton. Arriving by road into the tranquil village that’s so conveniently located just a couple of hours from Cape Town.
Little did I know at the time that this was to be the start of a relationship that would fast see McGregor become one of my favourite South African small towns. Specifically, for soulful and replenishing weekend getaways.
More recently I returned for a weekend sans hiking boots, staying at the perfectly themed Rhythm Full On. A minimalist styled cottage conveniently placed among mature trees in one of McGregor’s most attractive and quiet streets, and easy walking distance to the restaurants, shops and some of the friends I’ve made over my years of return visits.
The one-bedroom home is designed to offer a soulful retreat with giant linen couches to sink into, two single beds which make it perfect for a friend’s getaway and a slipper bath for added spoils. The free flow style instantly soothes the spirit, with no wifi and limited connectively, it’s about enjoying conversations, reading and relaxing – something that I’ve grown to associate with McGregor.
The lovingly laid out garden with abundant fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, aloes and spekboom is enviable, there’s even a rather elusive resident tortoise.
A picturesque country village accessed just off Robertson and surrounded by the Langeberg Mountains with Robertson, Ashton and Montagu as its near neighbouring towns, McGregor is said to be the best-preserved 19th-century South African village with its white-washed reed roof cottages, Victorian and Georgian homes.
Every Saturday there’s a morning market in the square next to the Church, which is a good place to mingle with the local community as they trade in their organic produce, home-baked bread, delicious pastries, jams, books, plants and more. The roads are mostly used for walking, with very few tarred, and the pace of life is idyllically slow.
Things to do include the Art Route, garden visits and shopping at Made in McGregor. Get to the Old Post Office turned pub for a whisky tasting, book a visit to the Tanagra Distillery and for Method Cap Classique, visit the Lord’s Winery.
On the main road and one of McGregor’s biggest drawcards is Temenos. Housed in a restored 19th- century farmhouse with expansive gardens, they run retreats throughout the year, many of which focus on detoxing and stress release, but also covering themes like creativity and cooking, meditation and yoga. Tebaldi’s Restaurant is particularly popular.
For homemade country food during your stay, there’s Green Gables Country Inn, while The Fat Lady’s Arms is a good place for a pizza. If you’re self-catering and simply looking for an excellent coffee midway through your village meander, 51 is the vibey new spot on the main road for that.
Fellow lovers of walking trails might try the Krans Nature Reserve or the Rhebokskraal Olive Estate walk that takes you through the olive orchards and vineyards in the village. Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, a circular route with bird watching points is equally popular with mountain bikers and hikers.
My first visit had me leaving with blistered feet and an adopted rescue donkey named Sheila, one of the residents at the incredible Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary on the outskirts of McGregor, with whom I fell instantly in love. Open to visitors from Thursday to Friday, this sanctuary provides permanent homes and care to destitute, retired, abused and rescued donkeys. The work that do there is admirable.
This last visit with my beloved Mom was to introduce her to the village and after a fair amount of exploration we retreated to our soulful Rhythm Full On where we settled with a pile of magazines and tall glasses of locally brewed kombucha, happy to share the quiet of the aromatic garden with the resident birds, bugs and bees.
It certainly is the perfect place for a reviving getaway and quality time with my number one woman.
The Essential Details
McGregor is located about 2 hours’ drive from Cape Town in the Western Cape’s Langeberg Valley. For more information and various accommodation options look to McGregor Accommodation. Rhythm Full On is a strictly vegetarian household. Learn more about the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary at Donkey Sanctuary. This story first appeared in the SA and Beyond printed magazine.
** Read my other published articles here.
** I travelled by invitation of Mira Weiner of Hot OvenMarketing and McGregor Accommodation.