Giants Castle Slackpacking Trail

Giants Castle Slackpacking Trail

A 3 night luxury trail through the foothills of the Giants Castle Valley and Zulu Waters Private Game Reserve. Accommodation is in lodges, your luggage is transported and its fully catered.

Day 1:Antbear Lodge is about sustainability. Here you will even find homemade cheese from their own milk. Hiking starts heading up to the top of the mountain with spectacular views looking out over the Drakensberg Mountains towards Giants Castle.

Day 2: Leopards Lair is full of family atmosphere offering a real agri-tourism experience. Your walk from here starts off easy and then drops back down into the Mbogta Valley after which you enter the Zulu Waters Game Reserve

Day 3 Shaka Lodge offers the lapse of luxury including your own private chef. Almost your whole day will be hiking inside the reserve where you might see rhino, buffalo and so much more.

Other addon activities include the Giants Castle vulture hide, a star gazing hammock camp, horse trails, abseiling and game drives

Central Drakensberg activities and attractions

Central Drakensberg activities and attractions

The Drakensberg offers a huge range of activities and attractions for your enjoyment. Its all about these unique experiences that make the Drakensberg Mountains the most interesting adventure activity destination in South Africa. Much of this can be attributed to the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains declared a World Heritage Site on two counts.

Gentle attractions and activities in the Drakensberg

  • Falcon Ride bird of prey show – Daily bird of prey demonstrations except closed on fridays.
  • Cathedral Peak Wine Estate. This is wine estate that was established in 2008 offers an excellent wine tasting experience
  • The Drakensberg Brewery, which is producing a range of exceptional beer types ranging from red Ales, blonde Ales, Indian Pale Ale, Pilsners and Stout. This brewery, which is open for light lunches and tasting, is a must visit.
  • The Drakensberg Boys choir – Sublime performances and should you find yourself in the Drakensberg on a wednesday afternoon this is something you should not miss. Start 15:30
  • The Champagne Valley also offers a Park Run, a 5 km experience from the Waffle Hut near Winterton. Guests are welcome to join this community spirit. Additionally, engage with locals over waffles and coffee on Saturday morning. The run starts at 08h00.
  • The Giants Castle Slack Packing Trail – This hike is a luxury trail and is perfect for those hikers who want to sleep in a comfortable bed each day, enjoy 3 course dinners, hearty breakfast, picnic lunches and tea and scones along the way. Its very much about taking things easy and at a leisurely pace enjoying the Lowlands Conservancy and Zulu Waters Private Game Reserve.
  • Day hiking trails through the Drakensberg Mountains – There is a lot to choose from here. easy half hour strolls right through to moderate half and full day trails for beginners. Giants Castle offers some of the most diverse day hiking options in the Drakensberg and the trails start 500m higher than the more popular Monks Cowl and Royal Natal just making things that much easier for yourself. Remember the higher you go the better the views.
  • Sandra se Winkel” Museum on the way to Ardmore Guest Farm is a fascinating trip into the past of frontier life of the Drakensberg. It is a genuine trading store from a by-gone era. Many of the goods in the museum are still in their original packaging!
  • Mandela Capture Site – An incredible sculpture reminding the world of an incredible personality. Nelson Mandel has left a mark on South Africa for us all to be be inspired from and  and thankful for.

Adventure attractions and activities in the Drakensberg

  • Scootours – A group of 6 adults going down a hill with scooters …. at first thought a NO NO . But is a great experience and fun going down on narrow pathways with a scooter. Great views, great fun and a great guide.
  • Drakensberg Canopy Tours, Situated in an indigenous forest of the Central Drakensberg, in the shadow of the towering Cathkin Peak, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour® awaits you. Boasting Africa’s first elevated rock face walkway with a good mix of both cliff face and treetop platforms, and cable slides over the forest up to 60 metres high, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour® must automatically go to the top of your “must do” list.
  • White Water Rafting – Zingela Safaris offers some lovely white water rafting options on the Tugela River.
  • Hot Air Ballooning Hot air ballooning should be on your bucket list and there are few places in the world to fly in that’s as spectacular as the Drakensberg Mountains.
  • Hiking the high DrakensbergThere can be few more inspiring places on earth than looking out at the view from the top of the Drakensberg Escarpment. Getting up there is a slog and hiring a hiking guide that knows the places to camp and caves to sleep in can help alot
  • Cathkin Trails – Valley is becoming increasingly popular for mountain bikers and trail runners. The community of this area has seen the potential of those sporting pursuits and as a result, established has an extensive mountain biking and trail running trails.

Take a day off and make Valentines day into a long weekend

Take a day off and make Valentines day into a long weekend

Valentine’s Day is about showing love and appreciation with a little romance in the mix. It doesn’t have to be hard work, but it almost definitely has to be meaningful.

And there are few things as meaningful as time. Making the time to connect with one another may just be the most memorable gift you could give someone. Of course, spending this time in a gorgeous spot will score you awesome Brownie points! The Drakensberg Mountains is just such a spot.

Romantic private dining in the Drakensberg

For extra romance points take Friday the 14th off work and head out early, to score a three day weekend.

Some absolutely stunning spots you can share with the one who has your heart.

What makes the Drakensberg such an interesting Easter destination

What makes the Drakensberg such an interesting Easter destination

Can you believe it’s almost Easter? For some, it’s an occasion to unwind, have a bit of “me” time and unapologetically indulge in delicious confectioneries. However, for the rest who are prone to family obligations such as holiday planning and daycare juggling, it’s a time of concern – contemplating on what to do and where to go with the family in tow. Sound familiar?

Don’t stress, we’ve got your back! Consider our line-up of places that are worth visiting in the Drakensberg this Easter and are sure to take the load off and make every moment with the family a memorable one.

Spend the Easter Weekend in the Drakensberg Mountains, enjoy waking up to the sun breaking through the trees, plenty of outdoor activities and promises of days filled with family fun!

4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD SPEND EASTER IN THE DRAKENSBERG

  1. Easter is a magnificent time of the year for the Drakensberg. The unpredictable weather of summer has passed us by but we are still a long way from the chilly nights of winter. You can expect stable sunny days with the hills still green from the summer rains.
  2. School holidays are here, which means the kids are probably bored and looking for something to do. Taking the whole family to the Drakensberg is the answer for your little break with the children before you continue with the rest of your busy year. There are plenty of activities to be enjoyed by everyone!
  3. The Kwazulu Natal coast is high season over Easter and while the Drakensberg is also busier than normal its simply not completely overbooked. In fact our suggestion is to check out the special deals that are available over Easter in the Drakensberg
  4. The Drakensberg offers a really different holiday break that will make your Easter break exactly what you deserve.

Top pics for you Easter holiday in the Drakensberg

  • Antbear Lodge – Make sure you ask about the luxury cave accommodation thats built under a rock with hammock chairs on its deck looking out over Giants Castle.
  • Sycamore Avenue Tree Houses – Do something really different and spend your Easter this year in a tree house. Bring back those childhood memories and just have fun.
  • Giants Castle Slack Packing Trail – Fancy a little more excercise. This luxury slack packing trail is just the answer
  • Hot air ballooning SA – Tick it off your bucket list. Hot air ballooning in the Drakensberg is just special.
  • Canopy Tour – Either at Karkloof or in the Champagne Valley sliding through the forest at breakneck speed is makes for great Easter fun.

What to do on a rainy day in the Drakensberg

What to do on a rainy day in the Drakensberg

The Drakensberg and Midlands Meander offer many activities for tourists on a rainy day. Just remember that the Drakensberg and Kwazulu Natal Midlands often experience very local weather so you may find locating just 50km in a different direction that you are back to the sunny days.

Drakensberg rainy day activities

  • Winterton Museum. This small museum has interesting displays on the history of farming in the Winterton are. It also features a blacksmith shop and a traditional Zulu beehive hut.
  • Cathedral Peak Wine Estate This estate produces an award wining Pinotage. Additionally, a famous blend known as “UNESCO”.
  • Thokasisa Craft Center
  • Ardmore Art Gallery – A new gallery and museum has just been completed. The work displayed here is inspiring and will be one of the top things you do while in the Kwazulu Natal Midlands.
  • Drakensberg Brewery. They have a range of excellent craft beer.
  • Berg Air, there is a chocolate factory and specialist coffee shop.
  • Drakensberg Boys Choir Concert on a Wednesday afternoon.
  • Ladysmith Siege Museum. This excellent museum, provides a fascinating overview of the South African War or Second Anglo Boer war.
  • Negosie Museum worth the trip down memory lane. Should appeal to all of us who were growing up in the 60’s and 70’s
  • Nelson Mandela Capture Site – The new apartheid museum is great to keep you occupied for and hour and if the rain lets up for 15 minutes go and see the Mandela Capture site sculpture. This is even worth braving the rain
  • Thatam Gallery – Spectacular art gallery in Pietermaritsburg. The exhibitions vary and you often catch some really great South African artists exhibiting here.
  • Natal Museum – One of the best natural history museums in the world right here in Pietermaritsburg
  • Midlands Meander offers a collection of quirky coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, crafters, cheese and wine tasting, chocklate dipping which are all perfect on a rainy day in the Natal Midlands.

Family-friendly Drakensberg Hiking Guide

Family-friendly Drakensberg Hiking Guide

Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains is one of the top activities in South Africa. So whether you’re an international traveler or a local South African make sure the Drakensberg Mountains are part of your holiday plans. Actually you should just add them to you bucket list for planning future holidays. The Drakensberg is a must do once in a lifetime experience experience if you’re a nature lover or outdoor enthusiast. Its a remote wilderness isn’t always the easiest choice when you have a family with young toddlers.  This non-camping and children-friendly Drakensberg hiking guide will change all of that

It’s easy to see why the Drakensberg is a natural heritage site, but why cultural? It is estimated that there are over 20,000 San rock paintings hidden across the Drakensberg Mountains. And these should be included in your Drakensberg holiday. It is the highest mountain range in South Africa at a maximum height of 3,482 metres above sea level.

There are an unlimited number of hiking trails in the Drakensberg. You can hike the Drakensberg all year round. However, the best time to visit the Drakensberg is during Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to May). The temperature is more moderate during these months. If you love flowers and plants, November is the best month to see South Africa’s indigenous fauna growth. Summer (December to February) is great if you fancy swimming after your hikes. The rivers are usually full this time of the year and wonderful for swimming. Just be wary that summer is the rainy season and afternoon thunder storms may interrupt your activities. In the winter months (June to August) you’ll be able to enjoy hiking under clear, sunny days. . If you’re lucky, you may even see some snow capped peaks at higher altitudes. The views are always incredible

Unfortunately there are no direct flights to the Drakensberg. The best option will be to fly into either Johannesburg or Durban and rent a car. That will likely be the cheapest option for a family or group larger than 3 people to get to the Drakensberg. Depending on which part of the Drakensberg you’re heading to, it will take 2 hours to 5 hours to drive there.The drive should be pleasant and pretty easy to do. The roads are  well maintained so you won’t need a 4X4 or 4 wheel drive to get to the Drakensberg. Just watch out for the occasional pot hole once you get onto the rural back roads.

Bus or public transport from Johannesburg and Durban to the Drakensberg is limited. There are Greyhound buses That will get you to the smaller towns. Uber does not exist here so you will then be reliant on the shared mini bus taxis and you might need to offer the taxi driver a little bit extra to get you all the way to the National Park Gate. There is also the Baz Bus which is a backpacker bus that drops off and picks up from a few of the backpacker establishments in the Drakensberg. The backpackers offer great options of tours to get out into the mountains.  Still the best recommendation is to have your own vehicle or hire a car. If you not able to stay overnight in the Drakensberg but keen to experience some day hikes, you can join full day hikes from Durban. This is a great option if you’re travelling solo because the tour includes transfers from Durban to the start of the hiking trail. Another plus is that these hikes are guided.

The most frequently asked question asked in South Africa is “Is it safe?”. Well the Drakensberg does come with some risks of you plan things a bit and are aware of the risks you will not have any issues. You will instead wonder what all the fuss was about. Simply don’t create temptation by wearing flashy and expensive jewelry, hang your camera or smartphone around your neck, carry large wads of cash on you, wander around alone at night or pick up random hitch hikers along the side of the road. Drakensberg is relatively safe because it is quite remote and far away from big cities and towns, but it may still be helpful to exercise normal caution anyway. Go on guided hiking tours if you’re extra cautious. If you are a solo traveler its best to hook up with others at hostel or backpackers. Its just silly to hike alone. You might fall and need help in remote places where cell reception is scarce and alone you simply are left to your own devices.

Family-friendly Drakensberg Accommodation Options

The best way to decide where to stay with your family, is to start off by deciding which hiking trails you would like to explore and finding accommodation around that area. The Drakensberg region is huge, so if you plan on doing hiking trails that are far apart from each other, then plan a route and book short stays at hotels close to these trails. Some hiking trails will be directly accessible from your accommodation, whilst others will require a short drive. Make sure that these hiking trails can be completed in a day unless you want to brave camping in the wilderness.

  • The Cavern Resort & Spa – Situated in a beautiful mountain location, this hidden gem is a popular getaway resort for  those seeking comfortable accommodation, great country cooking, outdoor adventure and  attractions. Because the resort is located within a valley, each of the beautifully decorated  rooms offer guests tranquil views of the surrounding nature and scenery. Families can  choose from many activities for all ages such as a playground, a games room, horse riding, a  bowling green as well as a swimming pool
  • Cathedral Peak Hotel –  Cathedral Peak Hotel is an all year-round destination in the Drakensberg, offering visitors an  experience of incredible summers to wonderful winter snow. The resort is extremely  popular to those who love nature and the outdoors. Situated against the breathtaking  Cathedral Peak mountain range, the 4* hotel attracts many travelers including families. Its  array of children activities make this an extremely sought after family friendly property.
  • Antbear Lodge – They understand the importance of making sure your children are well looked after so that adults can enjoy a well deserved break. Antbear Lodge welcome children of all ages into a wonderfully child-friendly, safe environment, and with a selection of child friendly activities. Its clear your children will be sure to have a fun- and variety-filled country holiday. Youngsters will be occupied for hours exploring the grounds, visiting the farm animals, watching a cow being milked and riding horses. And they can also arrange a baby-sitting service at a reasonable hourly rate.
  • The Nest Hotel – One of the few Resort Hotels offering a sumptuous Table d’Hote included in your tariff. Wholesome six-course traditional dinners, full hearty breakfasts, light country-style lunches and morning and afternoon teas. And all in a child friendly environment.
  • Ardmore Guest Farm – Situated in the heart of the scenic Champagne Valley in the central Drakensberg mountain range. Surrounded by breathtaking views and fantastic opportunities for hiking and exploring the local area. Wake up to a traditional farmhouse breakfast (full English) overlooking Ardmore’s extensive gardens. Child friendly with lots of tame farm animals on the guest farm.
  • Drakensberg Mountain Retreat – A stunning destination in the northern Drakensberg with breathtaking views. Accommodation at the Lodge is fully catered for breakfast and Dinner. Lunch can be ordered and can be enjoyed on the patio or a picnic basket for your walk in the mountains. The rooms range in quality and size so chat to the management if you want something specific. There are 2 luxurious rooms for romantic couples wanting a totally private retreat. Our pet friendly rooms have enclosed gardens and our large family rooms are wonderful for relaxing with the kids. There are no fixed entertainment activities for the kids
  • Alpine Heath Resort – Situated close to Bergville, this family friendly 4* hotel is the perfect location for those in  search of tranquility, relaxation and majestic views. For those who opt to  venture out a bit, there are options of outdoor activities and nearby attractions. Families  can enjoy their stay in one of the many luxury chalets with incredible views of the  mountains.
  • Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort  – Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort is a family resort situated in the heart of the Champagne Valley, Central Drakensberg. The resort offers a variety of accommodation types to suit the whole family. Our accommodation ranges from camping and caravan sites through to numerous self-catering options. We offer from our most affordable Drakensberg Park Homes which are 2* through to our newly built 4* Lakeside Suites.
  • Little Switzerland Resort – If you’re looking to bring family together from Durban and Johannesburg, then this holiday  haven is perfectly situated in the middle of the two major cities. This 4* resort offers guests  both peace and tranquility amongst the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains. Views of the  surrounding nature and wilderness, as well as nearby waterfalls, streams and forests, allows  for family to explore and enjoy the very best of nature. The resort is suitable for families and  friends to share self-catering chalets with the ultimate comfort as well as a choice of a  mountain, garden or pool view.
  • Drakensberg Sun Resort – This 4* resort in the Drakensberg, provides guests with the ultimate luxury and comfort. This also includes spectacular mountain views. Its great variety of both indoor and outdoor  activities includes canopy tours, mountain biking, boating, horse riding, volleyball and trout  fishing for families seeking adventure. Guests at the resort can also enjoy the views of a  beautiful private lake.
  • Champagne Castle Hotel – This 4*family friendly stay is situated within a world heritage site offers exciting activities  and attractions for the whole family to enjoy. This accommodation offers a window to some  of the most beautiful mountains in the world. The resort is not short of activity options, such as horse riding for the teenagers, pony rides and animal farm with a petting zoo for the  little ones, Trout fishing for mom and dad, tennis courts, bowls, volleyball, badminton, croquet, rounders, games room with table tennis, pool and football, board games, darts and hiking trails for the friends and extended family who have also been included in the family  holiday.
  • Dalmore Guest Farm – Perfect weekend getaway. Nestled in the heart of the Drakensberg, this working farm offers luxurious accommodations, hearty, home-cooked meals and tons of activities for the entire family. Zip line and children’s play area
  • Sani Valley Lodge – A private nature lodge only 2 hours from Durban. It sits within the dramatic Drakensberg mountain range, borders a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the closest luxury lodge to the famous Sani Pass.
  • Inkosana Berg Lodge – The lodge is “eco friendly” and sustains itself from using resources of the land such as mountain water, fresh vegetables and herbs from the herb garden, solar lighting and outdoor eco showers, gas cookers and wood fired pizza oven.
  • Penwarn Farm Lodge -An Unforgettable Farm Lodge Experience. Penwarn Farm Lodge, in the heart of the Underberg, provides guests with that authentic farm experience, but without sparing any of the luxuries you’d expect to enjoy on your holiday. There a range of accommodation options available at Penwarn Farm Lodge, with choices to suit couples, friends and families alike.
  • Injisuthi Camp – Hiking and camping in Drakensberg parks such as this will be a memorable experience for older children and teenagers.

Family-friendly activities in the Drakensberg

  • Antbear Lodge horse trails – Ideal for beginners and children. The horses are very calm and rides are not about speed. For children the horses are led with someone walking with the horse or little children can get some exposure inside the round pen just to get used to things.
  • Falcon Ridge bird of prey show -Highly recommended (including a TripAdvisor Badge of Excellence), The Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Center is found in Champagne Valley in the Drakensberg. Open every day apart from Fridays, the “shows” are thrilling; highlighting the power, speed and intelligence of the birds. An insight into Falconry is included in the show and the public will learn how these birds of prey use their wings and sharp beaks and claws to their advantage.
  • Dragons Rock Reptile center – An exciting tour that is fun and educational. Come and feel the reptiles and learn all about them. Anything from snakes to hedgehogs. This really is a gem of an attraction for families and children.
  • Scootours and kidies adventures – Down hill scooters are lots of fun even for the adult kids. Here You will find zip lines, tree climbing, paintball, King Swing @ One Venue in Central Drakensberg
  • African Bird sanctuaryIncredibly informative, beautiful birds and the only place in the world that has Bearded Vultures in captivity (they’re part of a breeding program to try up their numbers) in Pietermaritzburg, and watch some awesome predators like owls, falcons and hawks in action in an open-air amphitheater and learn their stories. Don’t miss the vulture feeding sessions, on weekends and public holidays at 12:30. Afterwards, visit the Kestrel Cafe for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, while the kids burn off some extra energy at the jungle gyms or feeding the rabbits and guinea pigs.
  • All Out AdventuresAwesome activities to get the adrenaline pumping…nice coffee shop…safe…owner manages
  • Drakensberg Boys Choir – The Drakensberg Boys Choir School is one of the few South African Schools whose fame extends around the world. This school offers a unique educational opportunity for boys; it stimulates their spirit of adventure and exploration in our beautiful surroundings, while nurturing the development of the mind and expression in innate musical talent. Set on a 100Ha estate, the school draws its inspiration from the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, a World Heritage Site in KwaZulu-Natal, and is filled with the sound of boys singing, surely one of the purest of musical delights in the world. Don’t miss our popular Wednesday concerts at 15h30, every Wednesday during term time!
  • Piggly Wiggly Country Village – With various activities for the entire family, the Piggly Wiggly Country Village has something for everyone. The Candle Dipping Shop invites little piggies of all ages to create candle art by dipping their candles into different colours of wax while mom and dad shop or do some wine tasting at Meander Fine Wines. Kids can also play putt-putt at the Piggly Wiggly Putt Putt or get creative at the Zulu-Lulu Ceramic Boutique. Offering wholesome family fun and plenty of opportunities to bond with your kids, the Piggly Wiggly Country Village is a must visit this winter holiday. They also have great Kiddies’ Party Packages!
  • Karkloof and Drakensberg Canopy Tours – For an adventure activity that you and your kids will remember, go on a canopy tour with Karkloof Canopy Tours. Unleash your inner monkey by joining the Samango monkeys in the Karkloof forest canopy. Suitable for children from the age of seven, the two-hour eco-experience will afford you the opportunity to traverse from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended 35 meters from the forest floor. With nine platforms and eight cable slides, it’s a zig-zagging experience the whole family will enjoy.
  • Chocolate dipping at Cockolate Heaven – For a sweet experience that will certainly give you the parent-of-the-year award, go chocolate dipping at Chocolate Heaven. The chocolates are hand molded and are created with premium Belgian chocolate. It is an activity dunked in fun that will hopefully leave more chocolate in your belly than on your face.
  • Funtasy Toy Shop – After a term filled with learning and homework, don’t you think it’s time to reward your little bright spark? Funtasy Toy Shop offers a wide variety of different toys and games most of which are not found in commercial stores. The quaint toy store offers carefully handcrafted toys for both boys and girls. At Funtasy Toy Shop the kids can create their own special soft toy which has its own heart and passport. Hours of fun can be had with the unique bears.
  • Mandela Capture site – For an educational experience these holidays, why not visit the interesting Mandela Capture Site. Learn about how Mandela was captured on his return journey from Johannesburg and afterwards, have a snack at Truth Cafe. You can also visit the Impumelelo Bead Shop and sample the beaded artwork and jewelry produced by a group of women.
  • Hot Air Ballooning – This is one of the most romantic outings for adventurous couples. The ride takes you over the majestic mountains to have a bird’s eye view of the highest peak in SA. Breathtaking

Family-friendly day hikes in the Drakensberg

  • Main Caves at Giants Castle -This is a short and easy hike that leads to a site with reasonably good examples of bushman rock art. Whats particularly interesting for families with children is that they have setup an out door museum where children enjoy their exposure to lost culture.
  • Giants Castle Slack Packing Trail – A luxury slackpacking trail that runs between 3 lodges. You are accompanied by a professional hiking guide, all your meals are catered for and your luggage is transported to the next lodge. The trail is easy and children are welcome to accompany parents on the trail.
  • Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve – For a chance to see wildlife in the Natal Midlands, why not visit the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, a part of WESSA (The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa). Your kids will have a field day spotting giraffe, zebra and a variety of antelope in the reserve. With an indigenous tree trail surrounding the main Education Centre, self-guided walks enable mingling with the animals in the reserve. The largest part of the reserve is located in the stunning gorge below Howick Falls, guaranteeing impressive views.

Drakensberg Secretary Bird Facts

Drakensberg Secretary Bird Facts

Some interesting facts about our resident Secretary birds, a.k.a Sagittaruis Serpentarius, They have long legs, large wing span with a long tail. The bird gets its name from its crest of long feathers that look like the quill pens used in the 19th century.

They have black on the wings, thighs and tail feathers, mostly dove-grey in colour. These birds have a large curved bill with bare orange and yellow skin near the beak. The long legs are feathered half way and have the appearance of wearing short pants. The tail feathers are very long. When the bird is standing they can reach a height of approximately 1meter.

Their most distinctive feature is the black crest of feathers that is often described as the old fashioned quill pens. They also have very long eyelashes and large eyes with excellent eyesight, spotting prey from high up in the thermals.
Secretary birds consume snakes, reptiles, insects and other small mammals such as rats and mice.

These birds are mostly terrestrial, taking flight when approached or when in danger, remember to approach quietly using as much cover to hide away to get as close as possible. Usually, this pair will not take fright if you stay in your car, a fair distance away.
They can cover distances of an excess of 15km’s per day. When hunting and they spot their prey, they look like birds in “ballet” as they dance, spreading their wings at the same time offering strong blows to their victim, especially snakes.

They beat their prey with their toes; once the prey has been sufficiently debilitated they tear their victims apart, swallowing large pieces at a time. Secretary birds pair for life. These birds can be heard high up in the thermals, and sound like a deep grunt or hoot.
This pair has bred a chick twice in 6 years.

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.

 

Family Friendly activities on the Midlands Meander

Family Friendly activities on the Midlands Meander

The fresh country air and the endless exciting stops make The Midlands Meander the ideal family day out. From delicious lunch spots to fun activities for all ages, there is something for everyone. Spend your day finding all the fun activities or take a shortcut and visit a few of our favorite family-friendly midlands activities.

5 Midlands Meander Stops Your Family Will Love

Start your adventure by penciling these stops onto your route, but feel free to explore the hundreds of other stops along the way.

1.  Piggly Wiggly

This spot has it ALL. For mom, several shops are scattered around the outdoor centre to keep her entertained for ages; from a plant nursery to a sweet-smelling toiletry and pamper shop, she is bound to find something that tickles her fancy. The famous Piggly Wiggly restaurant, with its delicious lunch and friendly service, is a great place to make your base while exploring the shops and activities. From chocolate and candle dipping to riding the small train around the grounds and painting pottery, you are bound to be here for hours!

2. The Faraway Tree

This unique stop will remain with you and your children forever! Lose yourself in the fantasyland that has been created, filled with fairies, gnomes, elves and trees with faces, children’s imaginations will run wild. Enjoy browsing the vast collection of wands, tiaras and wings and allow the magic of The Faraway Tree to carry you away with it- if only for a while.

3. Play Putt Putt at Millgate Cottage

At just R15, you have access to unlimited putt-putt games. This entertaining game is hard to come by nowadays, which is a shame because it really is fun for the whole family! Challenge your kids to a game and see who will be the champion of the 9-hole course. Enjoy the fresh air, special family bonding time and hospitality from Millgate Cottage.

4. Karkloof Canopy Tours

If you are looking for a bit of adventure, ziplining is for you! Fly high above the second largest indigenous forest in South Africa, enjoying the thrilling zip lines (the longest stretching 175m), while keeping your sights open for monkeys, birds and marvelling in the beauty of nature. This adventure is open to ages 7-70 years old and will be a day you won’t forget in a hurry!

5. St. Ives Dam

This stunning stop is perfect for an active family day outdoors. Bring your own fishing rods and spend the day fishing for bass or bring your own mountain bike and enjoy the family-friendly 4km route (be sure to be on the lookout for zebra, wildebeest and antelope). With a jungle gym on-site for the younger ones and the option to organize a picnic lunch, you are setting yourself up for the perfect day out.

10 things to do as a couple in the Drakensberg

10 things to do as a couple in the Drakensberg

The Drakensberg is a perfect destination to travel to as a couple be it your honeymoon, a perfect location to propose,  that intimate anniversary getaway, just spending some valuable time together or getting away from the kids. The Drakensberg is an ideal destination for couples of all ages.

Top 10 things to do as a couple in the Drakensberg

#1 Romantic private dining on the deck of a luxury cave.

Antbear Lodge offers something special. A luxury cave with glass doors that open onto a wooden deck with hammock chairs and a spectacular view. The cave has a jacuzzi bath, fire place and huge bed. Ask that they setup a table on the deck of your cave and dine by candle light under the stars.

#2 Horse trails for two through the Zulu Waters Private Game Reserve

Going on an out ride together is a special couples experience everywhere. But going out on horse back safari through the Zulu Waters Game Reserve that provides both incredible scenery and wildlife safari experiences. Their guide will take you through the reserve on a 2 hour ride where you will get up close and personal with game including rhinos, buffalo, Zebras, Ostrich, Kudu, Eland, Warthogs and so much more. Whats really interesting is that the animals don’t see the horses as a threat so you can get uncomfortably close if you want to do that.

#3 Star Gazing and traditional African story telling while relaxing in a hammock.

Relax in a hammock and listen to the sounds of the night while a local villager tells you his African stories of the stars and more passed to him from his grandmother. There is nothing quite like laying in the dark in your comfortable hammock, holding hands, with the night sounds and the gentle voice of your story teller.

#4 Spend the day together driving around the Midlands Meander stopping here and there for some coffee and quirky things

Escape from busy city life and spend your weekend in one of the stunning romantic destinations in the Midlands with your partner. Spend some valuable alone time in this picturesque location, relaxing or enjoying the many activities available to keep you entertained. With the start of the Midlands Meander, there is no excuse why you and your partner shouldn’t treat yourself to a couple’s getaway.

#5 Pack a picnic basket and enjoy it at Worlds View where you have a 360 degree view of the Drakensberg Mountains

The Drakensberg offers some spectacular hiking trails. A particularly great choice is Worlds View at Giants Castle. Its a pretty easy hike and gets you you an incredibly stunning point with a 360 degree view and the perfect place to have a picnic. Ask the lodge you are staying at to prepare you a picnic basket or if you really want to push that romantic streak design your own picnic specially catering to your partners tastes.

#6 Go for an early morning hot air balloon flight

Antbear Lodge offers a hot air balloon take off site right in front of the lodge. Wake up and join us for a cup of coffee while you watch the inflation of a hot air balloon. Experience the awesome thrill and peaceful serenity of hot air ballooning on the edge of the Drakensberg mountains. You will meet at the hot air balloon launch site approximately 30 minutes before sunrise, your pilot will then give you a safety briefing. Once the hot air balloon is heated and you are in the balloons basket you will enjoy a flight of around an hour. After helping to pack up the hot air balloon you will return to Antbear Lodge for breakfast with champagne.

#7 Get your kicks on a helicopter flip

Departing from Dragons Peak resort, high flyers can enjoy seeing a different side to the Drakensberg. Sip a glass of champagne as you fly over the mountain peaks. You can even stop at the top for a high altitude picnic! The perfect day out to celebrate an anniversary or birthday!

#8 Splurge out on a fine dining experience

Cleopatra Mountain Farm House has earned global renown as a romantic gourmet getaway. This rustic, yet luxurious owner run mountain retreat is the ideal escape from the harried pace of life, to a serene and scenic location. Richard Poynton is the head executive chef at Cleopatra and so passionate about his craft, that he, along with Mouse and his daughters compiled and published a historical memoir-style cookbook about the farmhouse and the recipes he loves.

Or spoil your loved one the next valentines weekend or any weekend for that matter with an incredible meal at Hartford House. If I really want to sweep your partner off her feet, a trip to Hartford House in the Natal Midlands should be at the top of your list. The rooms are incredible and every meal, from breakfast to dinner, feels like a splurge. Gazing out at horses grazing on the stud property is really a special treat.

#9 A romantic couple spa experience

Fordoun Spa in the Midlands has recently won an award for ‘Best value for money’ and while this is undoubtedly true, it is so much more. Fordoun Spa is five star luxury in beautiful surroundings with cheerful staff, a top class spa and exquisite cuisine. Verandas overlook the beautiful trees, immaculate lawns and a herd of fat, contented cows, ducks, sheep and Hadedas. In all seasons, Fordoun charms and delights guests. Top suggesting is a couples massage.

#10 Relaxing

While it is great to remain active and its good for us all to keep our minds busy, it is imperative to relax too! Not making time to relax more often than not leaves you stressing. So take the time to just do nothing soaking up the view on a sun lounger or enthralled by a great book.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site

Nelson Mandela Capture Site

The Nelson Mandela Capture Site is a cultural and historical exhibition that is situated at the site at which Nelson Mandela was apprehended for his anti-Apartheid activism acts in August 1952. The Nelson Mandela Capture Site commemorates this moment in history with a visitor center and a world renowned sculpture.

Nelson Mandela had been travelling in disguise as the chauffeur of the car he drove, and was on the R103 road between Durban and Johannesburg in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. Apartheid police had been hunting Nelson Mandela down for 17 months and, as he passed along this stretch of road, they were finally able to capture and arrest him. This marked one of the most significant moments in the history of the Apartheid era, as well as the future of South Africa.

From the time of his incarceration, Nelson Mandela made great strides in awakening the consciousness of South Africans, and the world, to the inequalities and unfair treatment that was carrying on within the borders of South Africa.

This monument in honour of Nelson Mandela and his efforts is a dramatic representation of the multi-faceted influences and the nature of a single human being that had an enormous effect on the identity of a nation. It was created by Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose, who collaborated on this magnificent project.

The sculpture at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site comprises 50 steel columns that are between six and 9.5 metres in height and cover a width of almost 30 metres. These have been cut by laser to form an image of the former president when viewed at the correct angle. The columns line up so that, at a specific angle, they create what seems to be a two-dimensional image of Mr Mandela. So dramatic is the effect that it can be seen from 30 metres away. This monument is situated at the end of a winding path, which represents the long walk to freedom that he took towards his goal of political equality.

In the near future, the uMngeni Municipality has formal plans to establish an amphitheatre, theatre, museum and arts and crafts centre at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. This will uplift the local community, creating more job opportunities, and will promote tourism to this part of the beautiful KwaZulu Natal Midlands.

Shawswood

Shawswood

“Shawswood” is situated 23 kms from Howick on the Karkloof/Rietvlei Road. The property has been in the Shaw family since the mid to late 1800’s and, until recently, was run as a timber farm and sawmill. Even now, there is evidence of some of the old logging trails through the bush.

The old homestead still stands, having slept 6 generations under its roof. The stables that were home to all the polo ponies over the years have recently been converted into rustic accommodation, and paths to the top and bottom of our waterfall have been cleared and well marked, for people to explore.

The original Shawswood stables have been converted into rustic rooms containing 3 to 4 bunkbeds each, suitable for school, sporting, rambling or church groups (58 beds). There is an additional wing offering single or double accommodation (12 people) and a decent ablution block, with plenty of hot water for showering.

The farm workshop has been turned into a large dining hall, also suitable for indoor activities. Large groups are required to bring their own bedding and eating utensils. Mattresses with covers are provided, as are cooking facilities. Bulk catering can be arranged upon request, and braai facilities and firewood are available.

There are also large grassed areas for group activities and we are always open to new ideas for obstacle courses and team building exercises. We offer guided walks for school children. Similar walks for other groups can be arranged on request, otherwise the paths are well-marked for you to explore at your own pace.

Stone Haven is Shawswood’s latest project! This 1880 sand-stone structure has been turned into a fully contained self-catering cottage, a “haven” for nature lovers to spend a tranquil few days away! A yellowwood staircase leads up to a quaint loft bedroom, complete with brass bed. Awaken to magnificent sights of the indigenous forest and mountain, and breakfast on the verandah, watching the birds and enjoying panoramic views of rural Africa! “Stone Haven” started off as a stable and hay loft, at the time when the original Shaw brothers were renowned for their polo playing skills!

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