Nestled in the Langeberg Valley is the quaint McGregor Village. Thanks to McGregor Country Getaways and the #ECMeetup I won a weekend away for 6 people. I ended up taking my family, my brother’s in-laws, and as McGregor is a 2-hour drive from Cape Town, I invited one of my best friends who resides in the Mother City. We ended up being 8 people going for the weekend, so my brother and his wife booked a place across the road from the cottage where the rest of us were staying.
The road to McGregor
The trip from Port Elizabeth to McGregor is roughly 6 hours. Which for me felt like a life time. The last time I travelled to the Western Cape by road was in 2011. The trip would have been quicker, but we had leisurely breaks at Storms River and Mossel Bay. Then, of course, there’s the GPS. Sometimes I think these things are traps. My dad’s one is always taking him via dodgy or rural backroads. And on this trip, it lived up to its reputation and took us on a 19km gravel road. That alone took us an hour. Once in the village, we learned that it would have been quicker and more vehicle friend to travel to the village via Robertson.
It was early evening when we arrived in McGregor, so we all got settled in. We stayed in Francolin Cottage, which consisted of the main house and a flat. The cottage accommodates 6 people in total. The cottage had a very homely feel to it and there were a lot of small touches that made staying in the facility enjoyable. Firstly, we arrived to find preheated rooms and beds (they had electric blankets. In other news I’ve been looking the prices of them, they are the bomb). Being in the middle of winter, and in a valley, the village can get really cold, I’ve been told. But in my opinion, it was not as cold as I expected it to be.
Another nice touch was a welcome bottle of wine and that the cottage has filter coffee. Yes, proper decent coffee! Not those Ricoffy sachets most other places have.
Another unique touch was that the cottage does not have a TV or radio. And to be honest it was a great thing. This forces visitors to either A) Talk to one another or B) Explore the village. There are though a number of games in the cottage to encourage interaction. However, there was some big rugby match on the Saturday afternoon, but there is a pub a few houses down from where we stayed. It’s so quiet though, that it would be easy to miss that it was a pub. In any case, most of us went down to the pub. My family went to watch the rugby at the pub and enjoyed themselves.
On Friday night, after we settled in and chatted for a bit, we went out to eat at Karoux restaurant. Karoux is owned and run by Ryan and Aimee Josten. Their menu is written on a black board, as it changes regularly (I think weekly, if not daily) and it is dependant on the fresh produce that they find.
The highlight of the meal for me was the salted bread that was put on the table. OMW, I think I had three pieces. I’m not a salt lover. I cook without salt and can easily eat meals without it. But that salted bread, I loved it.
I find the restaurant to be a mix of artisanal and fine dining. I had springbok loin with pampoen tert, baby spinach, sherry and porcini sauce. The chef serves the springbok rare, but it can be well done on request. I’ve never had springbok before or eaten rare meat ( I prefer medium or medium rare depending on where I’m eating), but I thought. When in McGregor, do as the McGregorians do. The meat was very soft and tasty, but I think in future I’d stick to meat that’s done medium. I really enjoyed the pampoen tert as well. My mom had the pan roasted sea bass, ginger pickled calamari, rice noodle, Thai red curry and coconut cream broth and I tried a bit of it as well. It was also really enjoyable, and the red curry gave it a bit of a kick.
Saturday Morning Market
Nearly everyone told us that the Saturday Market is small and short and over in an hour. The market takes place at the church on Church street. It starts at 9 and it is said to only last an hour. We were running late but fortunately got there around 09:20 before everything was sold out. There aren’t many stalls, but if I remember correctly no two stalls sold the same items. We picked up some lovely finds, including a litre of olive oil for a mere R60! I picked up some herbs, treats for Bishop, olive oil and a book.
Walk down the roads of McGregor Village
After visiting the market, we walked down the main road (nearly everything is in walking distance). We popped into some of the shops on the road. We went into a shop that sold jewellery and stones, a gift shop and a few wine shops.
While walking through the town, we also stopped at Bemind, a boutique wine cellar, where we had an impromptu wine tasting. But hey, you can’t go to wine country and not taste wine. I bought a bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc. We also stopped at Rhebokskraal Olive Estate’s shop in the town. They have a variety of olive products and they offer olive and juice tastings. I picked up a delicious smokey olive pate.
Viljoensdrift River Boat Trip and Wine tasting
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to walk through the entire town, as we needed to get to Viljoensdrift Estate for a river boat trip and wine tasting. The estate is on the Robertsons wine route and is 20 to 30-minute drive from McGregor.
We tasted some of their wines and I bought a bottle of their rosé Muskapino (a muskadel and pinotage blend) to enjoy on the boat trip. The estate also has a deli where you can purchase a bunch of snacks to eat while on the ride. The 50-minute trip took us up and down the calm waters of the Breede river.
After, the trip most of us went to the pub to watch rugby. I only stayed 15 minutes, because I’m not a fan of most sports. We then prepared a braai for supper.
The trip was way too short. I wish we had more time to explore the village and surrounds. I really wanted to go on one of the hikes, but no one else was keen. I’ll do a haul post with all of the goods that I bought in McGregor soon.
Overall, we had a lovely time and hopefully, I will see McGregor soon again.