Megan recently went on holiday to Grabouw and had a wonderful and relaxing break at the four-star Wildekrans Country Estate. Make sure to book a weekend away at Grabouw.
One late Monday morning in early September we left Cape Town for a 'not-weekend' away at Wildekrans Country House. Within an hour's drive over Sir Lowry's Pass, we were pulling into the Houw Hoek Farm Stall. It is the third farm stall on the plateau along the N2, and it has everything a farm stall should have. We particularly enjoyed the pies and the fresh strawberries.
The way to the Wildekrans Country House lies directly opposite the Houw Hoek Farm Stall. We pulled up to the house and were greeted by friendly staff who offered to carry our bags. Monday and Tuesday nights are their quiet nights, we were told, so we had the house to ourselves. The rooms were beautifully furnished, and the large four poster beds looked wonderfully comfortable. The wide, shuttered windows overlooked the garden, with a glimpse of new leaves on the trees, the fragrance of the spring flowers wafting on the breeze, and the mountain looming at the bottom of the garden.
The house (built in 1811) and the garden display an impressive collection of contemporary South African art. Alison, the proprietor, is passionate about local contemporary art and enjoys offsetting the historic house and traditional furnishings with modern artistic pieces. The house sits on a working fruit farm, and the swimming pool is in the position of the house's original pool. More adventurous guests can do the biking trails, or take leisurely day trips to Hermanus and Botriver.
We spent the rest of the afternoon reading and napping by the cosy fire the staff had built for us in the small lounge, after which we made our way to the barn for supper. The barn has been renovated and set up for evening meals, which the staff prepares on request. Rosie served us, and the clean presentation of the delicious food matched the atmosphere of the simple, artistic surroundings. The quality of the food was outstanding, and many of the ingredients were prepared on the farm, including the olive oil and the wine accompanying the meal.
The next morning, after a full English breakfast, again with homemade ingredients (the honey, jam and muesli), we went on an easy 2 -our hike through the farm and mountains, guided by John Hutnik. Having grown up on the farm, John, shared his love for the area and his passion for plants and animals, capably pointing out interesting things along the way. This included leopard spoor! There are 15-20 leopards that roam the mountains, but they are only spotted by motion-triggered cameras.
We walked back through the orchards of a neighbouring farm, and the masses of pink and white blossoms were magical! The blossoms are best from mid-September to early October, which makes this a perfect time for hosting a small garden wedding or special event. This hike gave us a wonderful appreciation for the area, and was definitely a highlight of our stay. We would highly recommend it, even just for the pleasure of John's company and conversation.
John is one of the guides for Green Mountain Trail, a four day slack packing hike through the Kogelberg Biosphere. Guests are guided through fynbos areas and sleep over at local farmstays, and can participate in wine tasting and enjoy country-style food. Nights 3 and 4 are spent at Wildekrans Country House. The hike is 60km through the mountains over the four days, and it sounds like an experience not to be missed.
At our request, the kitchen ladies booked for us to eat our evening meal at the Houw Hoek Inn - we walked there down the road, lighting our own way with a torch, kindly left for us in our rooms. The food wasn't as good as the Wildekrans meal the night before, but the Tuesday night ribs special was impressive, and the chocolate mousse delicious.
On Wednesday we woke up to a misty morning, the garden quiet except for the birds, and the mountains shrouded. We were sad to leave such a beautiful place where we had felt so comfortable and cared for by the lovely staff, especially Rosie, who served us tea every day. We drove home towards the table cloth covering our mountain, having enjoyed a wonderful and refreshing break in the countryside!
To find out more about Wildekrans Country Estate and to book a weekend away in Grabouw, click here.