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This One Time in Tulbagh.

It’s been more than a year since lockdown level 5 began and a national state of disaster was declared which means I’ve been waiting a while to be able to travel. It seems it will be a while more, but instead of wishing for things to be different we began chatting about the travel opportunities that exist all around us.

South Africa tends to be narrowed down into the big 5 of cities and things to do- Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, the wine route and safaris. But there is so much more to see, so I decided perhaps it was time to begin ticking off the bucket list of locations in SA I have been saving up for a month long roadtrip ‘sometime when things chill out’. SPOILER: They never did. The busy schedules, and what seems like never-ending life admin, continued so eventually I decided to stop waiting for a gap and made one. This was how we ended up in Tulbagh, home to the famous Moonrise Dome airbnb.

DOME BOUND

So our trip along the R44 began. Our intention wasn’t to stop at as many places as possible- the recipe for the weekday getaway was a spoonful of pure relaxation and a good dose of going with the flow. But along the highway dotted with wine farm signs, we spotted a handwritten one that read ICED COFFEE. This was too random and tempting to pass, and so we stopped to see what it was about. There we found Morale Coffee To Go, a mobile coffee station nestled in a fort of hay stacks on a farm. The coffee (and photo op) was worth the detour for sure.



So what is the small town of Tulbagh – located after the better known Wellington and before the somewhat known Riebeeck Kasteel – all about? This rural village is home to wine estates such as Montpellier, an earthquake museum, De Oude Drostdy Museum and a fantastic nursery (really the best one I’ve been to in my life but more about that later). It’s a quirky, unpretentious and charming setting for the La Brueyere farm just 9km out of town, nestled among the Witzenberg mountain range, where two geodome homes bring in a constant rotation of city fatigued folks looking for a luxuriously novel hideaway.

DAY 1

Creeping up the leafy, autumn-hued, tree-lined driveway, we turned a bend and to our right spotted the small private dam and to the left the Moonrise dome and treehouse that we would call our own for the next two nights.



After stepping out to the alarmingly alive silence of nature, we quickly began exploring: taking in the panoramic view of the Tulbagh valley on the balcony and anticipating the Weber braai we were planning, the outdoor bath (yes, you read that right) with an equally stunning view, the treehouse decked in welcoming and warm yellow accents (which we didn’t use but sleeps two extra people if you’re planning a group getaway), the outdoor showerhouse (just.wow.) and finally the dome with two swinging chairs I couldn’t wait to relax on.



Once the braai was going, Chad had a solo dip in the lake while I lay in the downstairs nook and did sweet, fantastic nada. We braaied and overate then stargazed at the milky way.

DAY 2

The next day, I couldn’t wait to wake up and make a cup of the full, nutty ground coffee that was provided, with the old style stove top kettle. Sat on the balcony in the fresh morning air, I deeply regretted not bringing my yoga mat (so if you do yoga this is the place and time to do it) and sipped my coffee. We caught up on some work (it was Tuesday after all), poured ourselves a bath (because you have to), had braai leftovers and then geared up to spend the rest of the day at the lake.

There is the option of hiking to the waterfall on the farm. If you’re down to get active, the host Jenny provides you with a map to the farm where you can view the trail. After a few hours of reading and sketching, it began to drizzle lightly, and then the clouds gave way to a gorgeous sunset.



The day ended off with a glass or two of wine, and another braai. We laid out blankets inside the dome by the window once it got a bit chilly and stargazed some more (it’s called the moonrise dome for a reason! It’s even better if you go during a full moon Jenny advises) before falling asleep to the pitter patter of rain on the dome.

HOME BOUND

One last breakfast of leftover braai broodtjies, kebabs and rashers before packing up to go home. Sidenote: I would recommend staying 3 nights to have the option of exploring more. We bid goodbye to the dome and decided to spend the day driving around the town and happened upon the Tulbagh Kwekery off Station Rd.

It turned out to be a highlight and definitely a place we might take a day trip to for another slice of chocolate cake and coffee, and high quality, ridiculously varied and affordable choices of plant babies to take home. My favourite was the rose garden!

BOOK YOUR STAY AT THE MOONRISE DOME / VISIT THE TULBAGH NURSERY / GRAB AN ICED COFFEE AT MORALE COFFEE ON THE GO

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