Secret Valley

To describe a valley as ‘nestling’ is a little trite, but this village – just over an hour north east of Cape Town – is bordered on three sides by mountainous nature reserves which are often topped by snow in the winter. Many of the whitewashed houses have heritage status and the roads are lined with trees. On clear nights, the stars are so bright from here that it is possible to make out the centre of the galaxy. Peacocks wander down the road and everybody greets each other. Yip, it’s a little slice of heaven.
There’s a proud history to this rural village which can be soaked up by a stroll down Church St which is stuffed with examples of 18th century Cape architecture, ending in the picturesque church where sunbeams dance through the high windows and Thine be the Glory is chimed out by an antique clockwork musical-box.
And a few minutes out of town, Tulbagh Wine Route’s terroir has been recognised as amongst the finest in the country.  Amongst my favourites are the small, charming vineyards of Twee Jonge Gazellen, the traditional Drostdyhof and the fabulous contemporary set-up at Saronsberg in which a stroll through the art collection is has heady as the award-winning wines. Then there’s hiking trails in the mountains, waterfalls and rock pools to explore, art studios, cycle hire,
4 x 4 tracks, spas, fishing, and horse riding and, not to be forgotten, tasting Moniki’s chocolates up on a hill overlooking the village, backed by the omnipresent mountains.
There is a pile of good places to stay in Tulbagh, but if you want to be at the heart of it all, then it doesn’t get much better than the Country Manor Guest House, hosted by one of the area’s local characters, Jayson Clark. When I stayed there recently, it seemed appropriate that, in this TV-ad-perfect place, the next person to slip into my bed (so to speak) was the Man from Del Monte.  Tulbagh?  I say yes.

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