Emma Jude Jackson
Mukti is Sanskrit for spiritual liberation.
Marc and James always wanted a soulful, peaceful place where they could escape to clear their minds, and they found such a paradise in Nieu-Bethesda, a charming Karoo town lying 50km from Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, which is home not to ATMs, nor fuel stations, but rather donkeys and dirt roads.
Mukti was originally built in 1879, which is evident in beautiful original features, but Marc and James have since renovated the property extensively (and lovingly) and complimented both old and new with thoughtfully curated interiors, including the very best in bedding, an essential for a truly restorative retreat. Mukti also comes with all the modern things you could possibly need to make for a supremely comfortable stay in the middle of nowhere, from a Bose bluetooth speaker to air-conditioning, a Nespresso coffee machine (and moreish rusks that I just could NOT STOP eating), a swimming pool, and excellent WiFi. The only challenge I faced while there came in the form of a "red roman" but that is a story for another day (or your Google search bar).
While it is a personal and private space for Marc and James, they have also been so generous as to open it up to visitors and Mukti can be booked via Airbnb here. Two nights will suffice but I highly recommend at least 3 or 4 to really shift over to Karoo farm-life mode and experience just how unique this town is. If you want to escape and fully immerse, stay for at least a week.
Restaurant Recommendation: Nieu Karoo, where you will find the very best pizza and pasta that any small town I've ever been to has on offer. Outside of some basics I bought in Graaff-Reinet, I ate all other meals there: breakfast, lunch, carrot cake breaks, and dinner.
Things To Do: Nieu-Bethesda is known for Helen Martins' fascinating Owl House but I also enjoyed a fossil tour, walking at leisure around town, photographing the early mornings and late afternoons, and visiting the First People Centre to see more local craft. There are many other things to do too but I was just too invested in taking advantage of the time I had at the house. I enjoyed the fireplace, watching dramatic downpours from indoors while drinking coffee and watching goats and horses go past from the front porch.
Best Time To Go: As soon as you need to escape.
See more photography from Nieu-Bethesda, Graaff-Reinet and the Karoo in my On The Road collection.