Where to find inner peace in outer extravagance
Satori Africa’s meditation and yoga retreat in the Overberg combines wellness, luxury and cuisine, writes Eugene Yiga
A meditation and yoga retreat conjures images of people faint with hunger silently walking past one another en route to their basic accommodation where they can toss and turn — with wisdom and grace, naturally — on a hard mattress.
However, Satori Africa, a tour company that creates bespoke travel, Epicurean and wellness experiences, offers a retreat far removed from this.
In the Overberg near Napier, about two hours from Cape Town, The Drift Farm Homestead hosted 10 yoga enthusiasts, Satori Africa founder Mark Bland as well as Cape Town-based yoga teacher Will Lindeque. The original homestead dates back to the late 1700s, and what was once a single-room dwelling for a pioneering farming family is now the perfect getaway for city slickers.
The east wing is built around the original homestead, which functions as a lounge with restored ceilings and yellowwood floors. There are two double en-suite bedrooms: the Bay Tree Room, the smallest on the property, and the Courtyard Room, which looks onto a shaded veranda near the chicken run.
At the end of a large terrace that offers views of the Langeberg mountain range in the distance, is the Hippo Room (named after a collection of wooden sculptures).
It’s the biggest suite in the homestead, with a separate seating area and mini library that is a bibliophile’s dream. It also has a private wooden deck and a dressing room behind the main living space.
The west wing is separated from the original homestead by a shaded courtyard and wraparound stoep that is ideal for a braai. It has two suites: The Verandah room looks over the swimming pool, while the Tree House Room, with windows at eye level, has sweeping views across the lawn and towards the olive groves.
I stayed in The Barn, a loft-style apartment just behind the homestead that is typically rented out separately if the homestead is unoccupied. The downstairs area is used for storage and laundry, while the upper level has the open-plan Studio Room with en-suite bathroom and fully equipped kitchenette.
With its views over the organic vegetable garden and pond, it’s the kind of place a singleton could comfortably call home. For couples with kids, the adjoining Bunk Room (with its own bathroom) can accommodate up to eight children in single beds and has a pool table, tennis table and various board games.
It was hard to leave such comfortable rooms, especially with the joys of underfloor heating, on what turned out to be a chilly three days. But it was always nice to return to find a new surprise.
There were boutique beauty products from Bio-Therapeutic and Terres d’Afrique and full-body massages from the Camps Bay-based Langaro Wellness Spa and Lifestyle Centre on offer in our rooms.
Main courses were wholesome dishes such as lentil and mushroom cottage bake or vegetarian lasagne, while desserts included home-made strawberry sorbet, gluten-free chocolate fudge with orange coconut cream and avocado, almond and chocolate mousse
The handwritten cards welcoming us and a personalised farewell message thanking us for sharing the journey ("your quiet, solid energy and sharp wit has been a treat to have around") were well thought out.
Lindy Aronowitz of Zooop (that’s three Os), a Caledon-based deli on wheels, served as our private caterer for the weekend. Every morning, she and her team were in the kitchen long before many of us woke up.
Breakfast highlights included maple, apple and cinnamon oatmeal; mixed vegetable frittatas with avocado, hummus and yoghurt dip; mini chia pudding parfaits with blueberry date puree and toasted nuts; pawpaw bowls filled with vanilla cashew-nut cream, spring roll wraps filled with fermented vegetables and sprouts; and soft quinoa egg cups.
Lunch and dinner were even more elaborate, often starting with a soup, from simpler choices such as carrot and ginger or cream of broccoli, to more complex creations such as pea and spinach with almond pannacotta served with micro greens, or creamy butternut with olive tapenade and basil-pesto plaited loaf.
Main courses were wholesome dishes such as lentil and mushroom cottage bake or vegetarian lasagne, while desserts included home-made strawberry sorbet, gluten-free chocolate fudge with orange coconut cream and avocado, almond and chocolate mousse.
There were also plenty of things to snack on: green smoothies with organic spirulina; pear, ginger and coconut-milk nonalcoholic punch; and a jar of rusks I may have dipped into more than I should because I obviously needed something to enjoy with my herbal tea.
The well-equipped open-plan kitchen flows into the breakfast area and large outdoor dining space, giving us front-row seats to the culinary action. Even one of the few people on the retreat brave enough to admit he eats meat was happy to spend the weekend without a steak, although he did joke about having a secret stash of biltong in the car.
Each day began with various forms of meditation in The Pool Room, a conference centre that can accommodate a dozen delegates and has its own en-suite facilities. The weekend also included two daily yoga sessions that we were grateful to do in front of the fire.
Simba, the farm’s ridgeback, was curious about these strange people "worshipping" the flames and often joined us for his own version of downward dog, only to get bored and move to a quiet spot under the corner table for one of his many naps.
None of the sessions were rigid or compulsory and there was plenty of free time to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. We worked up an appetite on mountain hikes and soaked up the few rays of sun by the pool.
We even played pétanque and Bananagrams, a speedier version of Scrabble that teaches you new things in every round.
The days flew by. And thanks to plenty of red wine in front of the fireplace – the homestead has an "honesty bar" system that allows you to help yourself and settle up when you check out – the nights flew by too.
Who knew that taking care of yourself could feel so good?