This past year has meant many changes, not least of which has been the curtailing of travel – a great passion for many. Not being permitted to travel has only exacerbated the feeling of being trapped.
Fortunately, now we are no longer on Lockdown Level 5, we are permitted to travel locally again and in the past few months I’ve been taking advantage every chance I can to escape and rediscover the great wide world – well, the South African parts of it!
While international travel may be a long way off, local travel is no longer cancelled! And that is great news. There are so many beautiful places to discover within the boundaries of our beloved country.
Too many South Africans go on the same local holiday year in and year out, forgetting to explore and discover new hidden gems and secret places that this country is full of.
We recently discovered a beautiful new part of the country and spent a weekend enjoying the splendour of the region off the R60 road near Swellendam.
This road stretches between Ashton and Swellendam and is bordered by a majestic mountain range. The verdant valley beneath these soaring peaks are abundant with vines, orchards and pastures.
After a 3 hour drive from Cape Town, we arrived as the sun was bathing the entire area in the beautiful glow of golden hour – and it was the most wonderful warm welcome!
Our accommodation was Mardouw Country House, a gorgeous house located on a working olive farm just outside Swellendam.
After dropping our bags in our large suite, we settled on the large covered patio overlooking the pool and enjoyed our “takeaway” meal courtesy of Just Amy’s restaurant located at neighbouring Jan Harmsgat.
After a deep sleep in our cocoon of a room, we awoke early (our own doing!) to discover the incredible peace of the place.
We swung the doors wide to fully appreciate the beautiful birdsong and gentle morning light, sipping coffee in our robes, reading and enjoying a slow start to the day.
Once again we ordered breakfast from Just Amy’s and were able to enjoy it while overlooking the rolling hills of olive groves, imagining we were back in Tuscany!
In fact, the whole stay at Mardouw felt very much like we were enjoying a weekend in an incredible “Italian villa”
That’s just the thing about travel in South Africa – there are so many corners of the country that can transport you to another place. The West Coast could be Greece, Cape Town could be California, the Drakensberg – Scotland, the Midlands – England, Knysna – the island of Capri.
Our time at Mardouw Country House definitely had more than a hint of Italy about it – the olive trees, the views, the large rim-flow pool, the wide patio, the luxury of space.
This large “villa-style” accommodation is idyllic for private parties or group accommodation. The house has five suites and can accommodate up to 10 people. Resident staff are available to cater for culinary and housekeeping needs.
Accommodation is offered in double rooms, deluxe suites and superior suites and the rooms are fully equipped with double or twin beds, an en-suite bathroom, a mini bar, safe, telephone, internet, DVD player, TV (DStv), hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, robes, slippers, heated towel rails and complimentary toiletries. Each room has its’ own balcony with incredible views of the Langeberg Mountains while the deluxe suites offer a lounge with fireplace and a private vine-covered veranda.
While spending time here we certainly felt it would make a great getaway for a family gathering or a group of friends. The house can be rented in its’ entirety for R10 000 per night (accommodation only) so if you’re looking for an intimate big birthday celebration with your nearest and dearest it could be a great option!
That being said, we spent time here connecting as a couple and loved it!
The privacy and peace were priceless. We lounged around the pool, read our books in the shade, spent time chatting, napped and relaxed with no interruptions or demands. Pure bliss!
When we found we’d had enough quiet, quality time we ventured out – but not too far! (In fact we barely got in our car all weekend which made it feel much longer than just 2 days.)
At Mardouw there are plenty of walking, hiking and biking trails as well as a golf driving range but we chose to head over to the neighbouring estate, Jan Harmsgat, to fully appreciate an authentic country ambience on this historical estate.
We took a tour of their pomegranate orchard, a wine tasting in the pecan grove and an indulgent spa treatment at their on-site spa. Olive oil tasting as well as tours of the olive making process can be arranged. But more about our time there in the next post!