From the Drak­ens­berg to Le­sotho to Graaff-Reinet, Ja­nine Avery lists some out-of-the-way lodges you should def­i­nitely put on your to-do map

Sunday Times - - Loving Local -

Are­cent road trip off the beaten track took us from Cape Town to Le­sotho, around the epic Drak­ens­berg and down to the coast again. Along the way we dis­cov­ered some hid­den lodges, out-of-the-way des­ti­na­tions and must-see ac­com­mo­da­tion spots that just blew us away. In fact we loved them so much we sim­ply couldn’t keep them to our­selves.

Here is our list of six South African places you sim­ply have to add to your bucket list.


Lodge own­ers Chris and Magda Hearne, are pas­sion­ate about the Cen­tral Drak­ens­berg — an area they call home.

They run the lo­cal in­for­ma­tion cen­tre, are help­ing to es­tab­lish a tourism route in the area and own their own com­pany, Treks, Trips and Trails, that en­ables ad­ven­tur­ous visi­tors to see the coun­try on gravel.

It should come as no sur­prise, then, that this in­trepid duo built their very own tree­house, off the beaten track in the Drak­ens­berg.

Of­fer­ing ev­ery crea­ture com­fort you could hope for in a ho­tel room, a whole lot of added charm and panoramic views of the Cen­tral Drak­ens­berg, their tree lodge truly is one-of-a-kind. Per­fect for hon­ey­moon­ers and even fam­i­lies (there’s an ex­tra room down­stairs), it even fea­tures a tree that grows right through the cen­tre of the wooden abode.

Find Bahati Tree Lodge on face­book.com


Sonja Swanepoel of Dragons Land­ing horse trails has re­cently opened up her prop­erty to of­fer ac­com­mo­da­tion with a dif­fer­ence in the South­ern Drak­ens­berg. Sonja has a spe­cial love of horses, some­thing she shares with her cus­tomers on her out­rides through the farms of the Un­der­berg.

For those look­ing for a homely stay, where a love of the outdoors col­lides in the most heav­enly way with good food and great wine, all while en­joy­ing com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion at an off-the-grid home­stead with panoramic views of the ’Berg, look no fur­ther than Dragons Land­ing.

drag­on­s­land­ing.co.za ●


Sur­rounded by ma­jes­tic moun­tains, Mount Camdeboo of­fers a sa­fari ex­pe­ri­ence with a dif­fer­ence. Here, ev­ery sight­ing is back­dropped by in­cred­i­ble vis­tas, and game drives are a thrill as you rise to the top of jagged cliffs dot­ted with eland and gi­raffe.

The ac­com­mo­da­tion is un­like any­thing you will en­counter at other game re­serves, set as it is within a re­stored Cape Dutch manor house. The dé­cor and fur­nish­ings are plush and invit­ing, and with those green gar­dens, you would even be for­given for think­ing you were in a vine­yard in Con­stan­tia, rather than in the heart of the Great Ka­roo.

But when you do leave your com­fort­able

abode, you will dis­cover a beau­ti­ful area rich in his­tory with a wealth of fauna and flora to see.

The sa­fari ex­pe­ri­ence is a de­light­fully per­sonal one with rangers pre­fer­ring to keep game ve­hi­cles spe­cific to fam­ily groups if pos­si­ble – mean­ing you get a one-on-one ex­pe­ri­ence for the du­ra­tion of your stay.

mount­camde­boo.com ●


Waschbank River Lodge is just out­side the town of Gariep. Lo­cated on the Or­ange River, rather than on the dam, this lodge of­fers the ul­ti­mate in peace and quiet and the per­fect place to kick back and re­lax with a good book.

There is a restau­rant and bar on site if you don’t feel like cook­ing and the lone sa­fari tent found here is a great place to spend sum­mer evenings.

But if you want a fam­ily get­away, I rec­om­mend one of the self­ca­ter­ing units on site. With mul­ti­ple bed­rooms, they can ac­com­mo­date large groups and have spacious kitchens and lounge ar­eas for lazy days spent with those clos­est to you.

waschbank.co.za ●


Just out­side Un­der­berg in KwaZu­lu­Na­tal, Umzimkulu River Lodge of­fers a fan­tas­tic week­end break.

On the banks of a beau­ti­ful river, this farm is home to a num­ber of unique ac­com­mo­da­tion units.

The own­ers have poured their heart and soul into the prop­erty, lov­ingly restor­ing old farm build­ings and re­dec­o­rat­ing them with an eclec­tic ap­peal.

The river is a fish­er­man’s and kayaker’s de­light and there are boats for guests to use. The own­ers also of­fer tub­ing ex­cur­sions when the river is full, the ideal way to take in the beauty of the lo­ca­tion. umz­imku­luriver­lodge.com ●


Okay, tech­ni­cally it’s in Le­sotho, but I still count Afriski as a South African gem since its own coun­try is en­veloped by ours.

Nes­tled in the high­est peaks in Le­sotho, Afriski of­fers a unique re­treat in win­ter and sum­mer. When the sun is out, the sur­round­ing moun­tains of­fer epic moun­tain­bike trails, while in win­ter you can learn to ski.

The re­sort re­sem­bles a quaint Alpine vil­lage and of­fers a dif­fer­ent take on the ski ex­pe­ri­ence with a few groomed slopes on of­fer as well as a tub­ing and bum-board­ing play­ground.

If you can, go dur­ing their Win­ter­fest, which opens and closes the sea­son and com­bines fun in the snow with a va­ri­ety of mu­si­cal acts. This year’s is Au­gust 23 - 26. afriski.net ●

It of­fers the ul­ti­mate in peace and quiet and the per­fect place to kick back and re­lax with a good book

Pic­ture: Alon Skuy

QUIET MOUN­TAINS A hide at Gi­ant’s Castle Game Re­serve in the uKhahlam­baDrak­ens­berg Park, KwaZulu Natal, above. A Ba­sotho man walks with his dogs through an iso­lated moun­tain pass in Le­sotho, left. Rock art in the Drak­ens­berg, right.

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

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