Wellness travel in the Drakensberg

Drakensberg pictures

The Drakensberg and Kwazulu Natal Midlands offer wellness travelers creative and specialized wellness experiences that cater to this latest trend of wellness travel and experiences.

Yoga retreats and spa getaways are some of the wellness travel opportunities that are on offer. Guests can fill their days with mountain yoga classes or couples’ massages, dine on healthy fare, and lounge poolside. The days of one-size-fits-all wellness travel are long gone with personalised experiences that cater for  your exact need. While most people hope to leave a wellness trip more relaxed and rejuvenated than when they first arrived, that’s where the commonalities in wellness travel end. Products are tapping into your passions, thought processes and comfort levels.

So if you are a traveler is looking for a spiritual reboot, they may consider a visit to a sweat lodge, heated by volcano stones offering a meditative transforming cultural experience to purify, detox, and heal one’s soul with copal incense burning and scattered rose petals.”

If sweating it out isn’t your idea of a rejuvenating time,  you might prefer a trip to the Buhdist Retreat Center in Ixopo. It’s spiritual atmosphere and diverse retreat offerings are perfect for those travelers with a desire of soul searching.

Berg Adventures, a mountain trail hiking business has made adjustments to their hikes, based on a traveler’s goals, capabilities, and preferences. Their program is incredibly customized hosting small groups of  guests with tailor made hiking experience where you feel alone with the mountains.

Some Drakensberg getaways are even geared to narrower health needs. Brookdale Health Hydro offers a cleanse retreat, complete with acupuncture sessions and a personalized health plan.

So if you are celebrating physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional wellness through special gourmet, vegan, and healthy meals as well as yoga, fitness, meditation, skin care, aromatherapy workshops, sound therapy, and spiritual fire rituals then the Drakensberg and Natal Midlands is the destination of choice.


Spend a night in a Drakensberg Cave

Overnight in a Drakensberg Cave
Ifidi cave, one of the more elusive and special in the Drakensberg
Ifidi cave, one of the more elusive and special in the Drakensberg
The rolling sandstone cliffs of the Drakensberg mountains are eternally appealing to hikers and avid nature lovers, where Mother Earth can be embraced in all her fresh and dewy glory. And what better way to shake off the shackles of urbanity than by spending a night in a natural cave, just as our ancestors did hundreds of years ago?

What makes the Drakensberg so special?

The Drakensberg mountain range falls within the greater Maloti-Drakensberg World Heritage Site, one of the largest and most commercially inaccessible conservation areas in South Africa, filled with gorges, cliffs that rise towards the heavens, beautiful valleys, and, of course, numerous sandstone caves. Wildlife in the area includes rhino, wildebeest, and various grazers, while the impressive list of plant species features many rare and endemic species.

Hlalanathi, Northern Drakensberg
Hlalanathi, Northern Drakensberg

Prep properly for a night in a cave

There are literally scores of overnight caves to choose from in the Drakensberg, and they vary in size and views. While many must be booked in advance, some operate on a first come, first served basis, but these are generally smaller and further off the beaten track. To reach any of the caves requires a hike, and don’t expect any housekeeping services. Do, however, be equipped with all the necessary camping gear you will need for your stay, as well as enough food and water.

Hiker preparing to camp
Hiker preparing to camp

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with cave camping etiquette. Luckily, this list is not too complicated, with the bottom line being to leave nothing but your footprints behind. Campers are expected to remove all their litter, except that which is biodegradable and can be buried. Human waste should also be left well under the ground (note to pack a small shovel!) and the lighting of fires is prohibited. Besides the obvious danger of starting a bush blaze, fires smoke out caves and coat their walls with soot, making them uninhabitable for the many little creatures that live in their crevices.

San rock art in the Drakensberg
San rock art in the Drakensberg

There are also many caves within the Drakensberg area that house ancient San rock art. Camping is forbidden in these.

You’ve got options

One of the most popular and easiest to reach overnight caves in the Drakensberg is Sherman’s Cave. The path begins just below the Cathedral Peak Hotel leading across the river and up the steep slopes towards a peak of the same name. Pass a lovely wooded gorge with a natural pool. Within about two hours you will have reached your overnight accommodation, where you can sleep like a baby, wrapped in the arms of the Earth. The deep cave has a low overhang that easily sleeps 10 hikers, as most of the floor is level. The roof is low, so be prepared to stoop, but the views of the surrounding mountain scenery are spectacular.

Sunset in the Drakensberg

Further hiking and accommodation information is available from Drakensberg Hikes, a comprehensive resource guide to all the caves in the Drakensberg.

Unexpected luxury under a rock

If you’re not the kind that can get comfy on a camping mattress, but still want to experience sleeping in a cave in luxury, then do consider Antbear Lodge, with a gorgeous accommodation unit built under a rock. Glass doors open onto a wooden deck with hammock chairs and a spectacular view of the Drakensberg mountains, while inside the cave is cozy and decadent, with a spa bath, a fireplace, and even rock art painted on its walls.

Antbear Lodge cave deck

The lodge supports sustainable and responsible tourism, with meals being made from organic ingredients and cooked from scratch. The artistic and inspiring furnishings were all handmade at the lodge itself. This is the ultimate in luxury caveman living, where you can spoil yourself with a private candle-lit dining experience, on the deck of your cave under the stars.

Antbear Lodge cave interior © Antbear Lodge

Antbear Lodge cave interior



The top 7 reasons to visit the Northern Drakensberg

The top 7 reasons to visit the Northern Drakensberg

1. The Amphitheater

The top 7 reasons to visit the Northern Drakensberg - 1 - Experience the Drakensberg fd3c3903a1061d1995cc068abcbd0849 AccommodationOne of the most impressive cliff faces on earth, this towering line of precipitous cliffs runs over 5km, at more 1 000 metres (3200 ft) high. This makes it 10 times the size of El Capitan’s most famous face in Yosemite in the USA. Just to see it is awe-inspiring.

The Amphitheater is within the Royal Natal Park, which is well run and easy to get to. Mont-Aux-Sources, South Africa’s highest peak at just over 3 254 metres (11 000 ft), is part of the same complex. In summer it’s verdantly green with spectacular thunderclouds gathering late in the afternoon, while in winter it’s often under snow, and the grasses make the landscape yellow under clear blue skies. It’s worth checking out in both seasons.

2. Hike to see the world’s 2nd highest waterfall

The top 7 reasons to visit the Northern Drakensberg - 2 - Experience the Drakensberg 0fff077b5db232d312d9a8ecbafcdaf2 AccommodationMany rate this as the best hike in KwaZulu Natal – a trek through The Royal Natal Park to the Tugela Falls, which plunges over 948 metres (3,100 ft) from the Amphitheatre’s clifftops. The hike is 3 hours up to the point where you look up at the falls and 2 then hours down, along pathways lined with ferns and wild flowers, passing through patches of yellowwood forest. It’s really not too strenuous, but take plenty of water as much of the way you’re hiking above the river.

You can pick up a map when you sign in at the park. There are lots of other hikes within the park, and the staff there can give you all the details.

3. Bushman paintings

The top 7 reasons to visit the Northern Drakensberg - 3 - Experience the Drakensberg 96fd07e4e416653ab78c72ab2bb1ce06 AccommodationBushman or San people have left behind delicate galleries of their art in caves all over the ‘Berg. A short guided tour to a cave in the Royal Natal Park can be booked – call ahead to confirm the time. You’ll get a spectacular view of the Amphitheater from the path.

4. Cascades

The top 7 reasons to visit the Northern Drakensberg - 4 - Experience the Drakensberg f7160bc7c8f875ff9d02057b277a3733 AccommodationPack lunch & take an easy stroll from the car park in the Royal Natal Park to this series of cascading falls, with trees around for shade and comfy rock formations to lounge around on in the sun. The water’s perfect for drinking and there are several pools for swimming.

5. Adventure activities

The top 7 reasons to visit the Northern Drakensberg - 5 - Experience the Drakensberg 7003bb11f50f4356abda51d4d91543f6 AccommodationAll Out Adventures has an amazing collection of equipment in a clearing in a forest near Montusi Mountain Lodge and The Cavern Resort & Spa, offering cable tours, paintball, quad biking, bungee bounce, zip line, king swing and flying trapeze – if you’re into this mad stuff, you’ll be entertained for hours. If not, they do good very good cake and coffee, so it’s still worth checking out.

6. Running & MTB trails

Image result for drakensberg mountain bike trails

The area has a 100km network of mapped and marked trails for running or riding, at different levels of difficulty. If you’re lucky enough to be staying at Montusi Mountain Lodge, they can arrange mountain bike rental as well as show you all the trails. And they have fabulous stand-alone suites in beautiful grounds, with sweeping views to the mountains – perfect to recover afterwards. And book an extra night – you body will appreciate it.

7. It’s super-easy to get to

The top 7 reasons to visit the Northern Drakensberg - 6 - Experience the Drakensberg 7a6d29a57800e41c6cc711a5926dfacd AccommodationFrom Joburg, take the N3 highway for 2.5 hours to Harrismith and turn right – and the scenery begins, with a beautiful drive past the Sterkfontein Dam (the R74 is now in great condition) and down the Oliviershoek Pass. From Durban it’s an even easier drive, via Bergville.

If you would like any suggestions on where to stay, what to do and what special offers are on please contact our DrakensbergExperience.co.za booking office today and we will help with pleasure

Game Pass Shelter – Spectacular bushman rock art

Drakensberg Rock Art

Most of the paintings in Game Pass Shelter are complex polychrome images and the first rock art paintings you’ll see as you enter are imposing therianthropic figures (mythological creatures that are part human, part animal) clad in long black karosses. The most frequently depicted animal at Game Pass Shelter is the eland, the largest antelope in the Drakensberg. Apart from providing meat, fat and skins, eland had symbolic importance to the Bushman, who believed they had supernatural powers.

Archaeologists studying these paintings uncovered a vital key to understanding the symbolism of Bushman rock art (how hunters gained power from the animals they killed) so, in a sense, they “cracked the code” – hence, Game Pass Shelter is commonly referred to as the “Rosetta Stone of rock art”.

The trail to Game Pass Shelter is a two-and-a-half, to three hour guided walk, via the spiritually moving Waterfall Shelter. It is nothing short of a world-class experience in Khoisan rock art and living Zulu and San culture. You need to arrive at Kamberg Nature Reserve before 11:30 to be able to do this otherwise the guide will have gone home.

Our top top tip is to preceded by a spectacular DVD presentation at the state-of-the-art Interpretive Centre that caters for a maximum of ten people at a time. But you need to request the video presentation.

Contact: Hospitality Manager Mrs. Khanyi Zuma 082 765 3025, Mr. Rowan Mweli 073 641 2371, reception at Kamberg (Nellie) 033 267 7251, Raymond Mweli 071 451 9557

How about the Drakensberg Mountains for the next Valentine’s Day

How about the Drakensberg Mountains for the next Valentine’s Day

Peace, tranquility, spectacular mountains, romance and dreamy views! what more could you ask for on Valentine’s Day? All you need to do is make sure you come with that special someone.

If you are someone who likes to cook and spoil your loved one there are hords of self catering options. My suggestion is to fill out this request for Drakensberg suggestions and let these guys do all the work for you. Whats more they will probably save you money as the have a great grip on the Drakensberg Valentine Specials available.

But I am not one for cooking and of course I want something that is really different. Well I know just the place and its called Antbear Lodge near to Giants Castle. They even have a luxury Cave that comes with a Jacuzzi spa bath and fireplace. Top tip is to ask them for a private dining experience on the deck or veranda of your accommodation unit. Somehow dining under the stars by candle light just makes for the perfect intimate atmosphere. This is also the place for a honeymoon, a wedding anniversary or location to get engaged. Seriously if he wont say yes here he is just not going to say it.

Cathedral Peak Hotel offers a special Romantic Candlelit Dinner for 2 on a 2 night valentines package  where they include a couples full body Swedish massage and a luxury Picnic Basket for 2 – a picnic set up in a perfect setting with a basket filled with cheese and biscuits & champagne which will make Valentines a celebration never to be forgotten!

And if you really like the valentines idea of a spa when the Fourdon Hotel and Spa is the place to be. They even include an arrival drink, Valentines Chocolates, Rasul,  Back, Neck, Shoulder Massage, Foot Massage, and  Lunch

Make this Drakensberg Valentines trip even more special by arranging for a hot air balloon flight. Granted its and early morning thing and that does take the shine off sleeping in but its super worth it. It is expensive but ultimately its priceless and the memory will stay with you forever.

If you are feeling really flush consider dining out at Hartford House or Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse. That is sure to impress your partner with some of the best prepared food they will have ever eaten.

If this sounds like the perfect getaway to spoil your loved one, or spread the love in your family get in touch with us now to secure your booking for a special Valentines’ holiday.

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