Nothing much comes close to the feeling you get from waking up to nothing but the sound of bird song and chirping crickets – euphoric.
This is exactly what you can expect when you go off the beaten track (quite literally in our case) and stay in the mountainous region of the Northern Drakensberg. We always stay just outside of the little town Bergville, found in the province of Kwazulu-Natal. With fishing, hiking, MTB & horse trails, and just breathing in fresh air forming the main attractions of this magical place – it is no wonder that we find ourselves returning time and again to completely relax and recharge our tired souls.
To reach our destination (only 3 and a half hours away from Johannesburg) we have to do some major 4×4’ing up the more than 1 kilometer farm “road” which gives Darren the opportunity to test out his Double Cab Amarok’s capabilities, while at the same time test out my patience with how far he can get to the edge! Suffice it to say it is always an interesting ride up there.
Our destination being the absolute gem, known as Toplodge, hidden high within the Northern Drakensberg mountains – a mountain wildlife sanctuary with unrivalled views in unspoiled natural surroundings. With only three cottages on the farm you have the sense that you are the only one around, like you have your own personal mountain all to yourself.
We choose Toplodge over the many other beautiful hotels and lodges found within the area for this reason alone – unbridled peace and tranquility, with nobody around to break the euphoric spell it puts you under. While having the most amazing view for breakfast is also a major draw card.
Teakwood cottage, our home away from home, with its stone fireplace and open plan suite-like room has all the amenities to make our stay most comfortable and memorable. With the weather on the mountain being ever changing – one minute it is a fine sunny day, the next you find yourself enveloped by white clouds – it is great to have a cosy cottage to retreat into.
If you do find yourself wanting to explore your surroundings, there are many hikes and walks on the farm that take you to historic places of interest, crystal clear springs, rock pools and a waterfall that is Instagram worthy in its own right. Not to mention a view of the Amphitheatre unparalleled by many.
We always find ourselves hopping into our car, facing the farm road again to head into the Royal Natal National Park to explore the mountainous region, which is luckily right on our doorstep. The RNNP offers many hikes and even has charming camping facilities to explore the beautiful area in the best way possible – by foot.
This last time we took our favourite hiking route that takes us up to a waterfall known as Tiger Falls, an ominously steep hiking trail leads you up the mountain, and this is usually where we swear up and down that we will start doing crossfit – it is that hard. But once you reach the stunningly beautiful falls, it is all worth it. Find a nice place to sit down, have some snacks and just take in the natural wonder in front of you – and then prepare for the trek back down!
So if you are looking for a break filled with adventure and exploring or just a place where you can put your feet up and relax with a nice glass of Merlot – the Northern Drakensberg is just the place for you.
As an avid book reader, my book of choice for this getaway would have to be Saskia Sarginson’s “The Other Me”, a book that you can easily get lost in and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat – perfect for sitting by the fire, up in the high mountain tops. You can find my review for “The Other Me” here.
Share some of your favourite mountain retreats in the comment section below!