Archive for Drakensberg
Nestled away in the stunning Drakensberg mountain range in the Kamberg Valley near Giant’s Castle, you will discover Cleopatras Mountain Farmhouse. This outstanding Gourmet mountain lodge is 200km from Durban airport and 450km from Johannesburg airport. I drove there from Johannesburg and the trip took me about five hours down the N3 toll road before turning off at Mooi River. From there, it was less than 30 miles and even though the directions were very good, it is better to make this part of the journey by daylight to make it simpler to pick up the landmarks that are referenced in the map.
In the end, I showed up but because it was dark, I was not able to thoroughly appreciate the beauty of its position until the following day. I’d also appeared far too late for the six course evening meal which was a pity. You will find eleven rooms at Cleopatras and every one is unique. I was checked into room two, the Scandinavian suite and it was eye-catching and fairly spacious. It had been a long day and so I soon found myself in my bed that had been warmed by an electric quilt and went to sleep.
I got up early on as I had a long drive to the Zulu Battlefields ahead of me but first of all I wanted to have a look round. The early morning mist hung about the surrounding mountains and I could very well see what a picturesque spot it was. I made my way to the breakfast area where a wonderful three course meal was served to set me up nicely for the busy day ahead. The chef at Cleopatras preps his meals with flavour as his primary aim and I have to say that I wasn’t let down. Actually, I don’t remember the last occasion I was offered such a great breakfast.
Next there was time for a quick trip up to the top of the mountain though the view would be limited. Even so, it was clear enough to see that for anybody wanting to spend some time out-of-doors and take pleasure in terrific food, Cleopatras is highly recommended as a place in the UKlahlamba Drakensberg to escape to for a few days. Activities include things like trekking in the Highmoor Nature Reserve, horseback riding, horse stud trips & local adventures, fishing, helicopter rides, Bushman rock art, Crane rehabilitation centre.
If you want to head out driving during the day, there are in excess of 180 visits along the Midlands Meander from wood turners, to potters, to cheesemakers, to weevers and much more.
A number of major rivers have their source in the northern Drakensberg region, including the Orange and the mighty Tugela which plunges a spectacular 948m in a series of cascades down sheer cliffs as the second highest waterfall in the world. Many smaller falls and streams freeze in stunning fashion during winter with the landscape occasionally transformed into a snowy wonderland.
Dominating the northern heights at the Royal Natal National Park is the distinctive and well-photographed Amphitheatre which forms a great curve of majestiv beauty. Mountain baboons are often seen clambering across the rocky outcrops while soaring birds of prey, such as black eagles and the rare bearded vulture or lammergeier make the most of the uplifting thermals. The unique topography of the region attracts many hikers who enjoy the invigorating mountain air, crystal clear steams, distinctive grasslands and an amazing abundance of flora and fauna on offer amidst the surrounding pinnacles and peaks. Conservation officials provide advice and support to hikers and climbers with detailed maps and well-marked trails on offer. All who venture into the mountains must be sure, for safety’s sake, to fill in the Mountain Rescue register.
Trout and bass occur through the region in well stocked dams and in more challenging form in clear rivers and streams where the serious fly fisherman can enjoy a true fighting challenge. The peace and tranquility on offer coupled with the constant presence of spectacular scenery make this a true fisherman’s paradise.
A growing number of craft centres showcase traditional woodcarvings, exquisite award winning pottery, wire sculptors and metal works of varying styles. Many establishments boast restaurants with world-class chefs, attracted by the surrounds and lifestyles with on site vegetable and herb gardens providing freshly grown local flavour. Health treatments and spa retreats allow rejuvenating encounters in surroundings designed by nature to replenish strength and fitness.
Recent developments in the area include the Umzimkhulu Gateway tourism information centre in the south, the Fodo Cultural Village and a lodge and conference centre at Ntsikeni, a priority wetland conservation area, home to the rare wattled crane. You will not find a conventional shopping mall in these magnificent mountains. There is a variety of unusual shopping destinations to choose from and take a piece of the mountain with you. A visitor can get anything from curio shops, a range of arts and crafts, organic herb farm, which specialises in culinary and offering a wide gift range watch the cheese making process and buy a delicious variety of homemade cheeses.
Well organised camping sites, full service resorts, peaceful mountain retreats and bed & breakfast lodges offering the personal touch are all found in abundance making the Drakensberg an exceptional destination for the adventure minded or the visitor looking for simple relaxation and warm hospitality.