Did you know?
On 29 September 1969, the town of Tulbagh was hit by an earthquake that measured 6.5 on the Richter scale, causing serious damage to most of the historical buildings on Church Street.
The Blue Butterfly Retreat Centre revels in its tranquil setting on a 153ha nature reserve called Welbedacht outside the town of Tulbagh in the Western Cape. It is about 120km from Cape Town.
It runs a year-round schedule of retreats, and its amenities are marketed to expert facilitators who conduct, in the main, mind and body wellness courses. These retreats may run for as long as a week, or just for a weekend. The focus is on meditation, yoga, massage, nature walks and guided walks around its labyrinth.
Guests can book for private retreats, as individuals or with a group of friends. The four garden cottages (sleeping two to six people) have homely features such as fireplaces for warmth on wintry nights. Linen is provided and each cottage has a well-equipped kitchen, ideal for self-catering. However, some of the retreats do include meals as part of the package. Visitors can also book the entire retreat space for a private gathering on a self-catering basis.
The centre’s main building is a double-storey restored thatched barn. On the ground floor there is a large studio, a verandah and a kitchen. On the top floor there are an additional two bedrooms sleeping up to four guests each, with en suite bathrooms. Outdoors there is a large fire pit for night-time gatherings.
The centre is largely unpretentious, and the aim is to allow the natural elements to work their healing, and for visitors to spend time in the gardens in quiet contemplation, far from the madding crowds.
Welbedacht is under the stewardship of CapeNature, the Western Cape’s conservation authority. Its vegetation is diverse, and walking trails of 15 to 45 minutes allow visitors to explore the plant life, bird life and small species of game found here. Visitors can also cycle around the nature reserve, while there are numerous activities on offer in the surrounding areas.
There are a number of dams on site – some stocked with fish for anglers and others for swimming. On one of the neighbouring farms it is possible to arrange for horse riding, and massages can be organised in the privacy of the cottages.
Walking the on-site labyrinth is a grounding experience, while a trip into the town of Tulbagh is also an interesting experience for those who love a bit of history and small-town vibe.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Blue Butterfly Retreat Centre
Tel : +27 (0)83 952 5448
Tel: +27 (0)23 230 175
How to get here
See the listed website for detailed directions from Cape Town. The journey should take approximately 1.5 hours from Cape Town.
Best time to visit
It's best to enquire about the dates of the retreats you would like to attend. There is a regular Blue Butterfly newsletter (available via email) that gives an updated list of the various retreats.
Around the area
Visit the Kimilili cheese farm (weekends only) and/or the Paddagan restaurant. If you're interested in hiking trails, the Silwerfontein Hiking Trail on the Voelvlei Dam offers a one- or two-day hike on which you can enjoy the birds and vegetation. For shorter trails, consider the Waterfall Hiking Trail and Murludi Hiking Trail. There is also fishing at Silwerfontein (on the Voelvlei Dam).
Tours to do
Take a walk down historic Church Street in Tulbagh with its Cape Dutch buildings that date back to the 18th century. The Tulbagh Wine Route is also a popular attraction.
Having your own car will be to your benefit as you can explore the Cape Winelands at will.
What will it cost
Regular retreats range in price between R1 250 and R2 500 per person (two nights). The rate is dependant on what is included in the retreat (meals, massage, nature walks, guided labyrinth walk, yoga classes, meditation, etc), and each and every retreat varies. One can also book the entire retreat space for a private gathering – the rate is R1 780 per night and includes accommodation for eight persons and full use of facilities (self-catering basis).
Length of stay
Two to four nights, depending on the length of the retreat.
What to pack
Walking shoes, a sun hat and yoga mat.
Where to stay
Loft and self-catering cottage accommodation is available at the Blue Butterfly Retreat Centre.
What to eat
Basic meals are provided for some retreats, while there are numerous restaurants in Tulbagh. If you are going the self-catering route, then remember – the area is known for superb wines, cheeses and organic produce. There are numerous farm stalls and delis in the area.
For those who enjoy the great outdoors there is the Ceres Zipslide in the vicinity, as well as horse-riding trails and hiking trails. For history buffs, the Oude Kerk Volksmuseum, House No 4 (also known as the Earthquake Museum, dedicated to the rebuilding of the town after the 1969 earthquake) and House No 22 (a recreation of life as it was 200 years ago) in Tulbagh are all interesting attractions.
You're in Tulbagh, so stock up on great South African wines, cheese and chocolate. There are wonderful farm stalls where you can buy fresh produce.