We recommend a combination of these for day trips out into the area with your own vehicle. Best to focus on one region at a time to truly enjoy the region and what it has to offer. Please enquire at the reception should you need maps & directions. If possible, let us know the evening before, should you require a picnic lunch.
We do not support Tourism Activities involving Captive Wildlife, such as walking with predators or elephants, tactile interaction with predators or cetaceans, riding of wild animals. This is a complex subject, so for further information please read his Guide to HELP YOU MAKE GOOD CHOICES.
Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Royal Natal Park) – 60km
The Maloti-Drakensberg Park is a transnational UNESCO World Heritage site, composed of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park in South Africa and the Sehlathebe National Park in Lesotho. The site has exceptional natural beauty in its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts as well as visually spectacular sculptured arches, caves, cliffs, pillars and rock pools. The site's diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally important plants, endangered bird and fish species. This spectacular natural site contains many caves and rock-shelters with the largest and most concentrated group of paintings in Africa south of the Sahara. They represent the spiritual life of the San people, who lived in this area over a period of 4,000 years.
Un-paralleled natural beauty in the mountains for hikes ranging between 1 hour to 7 hours. (R80 per adult, R40 per child entrance)
Walk (or stroll with a pushchair/wheelchair) to the Cascades waterfall in the Royal Natal Park (1,6km – 1 hour) Smooth, concreted walkway alongside the Mahai stream, under the shade of giant yellow wood trees. Remember to pack your costume for a refreshing swim at the end!
Hike alongside the Tukhela River, until you reach the Tukhela Gorge (14km – 5/6 hours), where the world’s second-highest waterfall tumbles down the sheer rock face (can only be seen in summer) Route goes through alternative sections of protea veld & forest until the gorge is reached.
All Out Adventure Centre provides entertainment for the whole family. Highlights include SA’s fastest Cable Tour, Adventure Quad Trails, 150kms of marked mountain bike trails, and a hair raising 17 meter free fall King Swing accessed by a wooden spiral stair case that snakes 21 meters to the tree tops.
The Forest Retreat Spa nestles in the canopy of The Cavern’s indigenous Fern Forest. Enjoy relaxing treatments with the peaceful sound of the Putterill’s Stream cascading below. Their qualified therapists offer massages, pedicures, manicures and facials. The focus is to be more environmentally and socially responsible. In keeping with their ethos and vision, the Forest Retreat Spa stocks the award-winning, proudly South African, organic skincare range Esse.
If you are feeling peckish & your picnic didn’t fill you up, then why not try the Tower of Pizza for something fun with great outdoor lunch options with a children’s play area. Payment with credit card only, no cash.
Central Drakensberg Area (Champagne Valley) - 60km
Monks Cowl Hikes (entrance Adults R80 each, Children R40 each) The Blind Man’s Corner loop (12km – 5/6 hours) goes up past the Sphinx then to the contour path and returns via Keartland’s Pass. It’s not a tough route, but the views of Cathkin and Sterkhorn are really good. You can also see Mafadi and other high peaks in SA fairly clearly on a good day.
Otherwise, the Sterkspruit Falls, which is a 2,5km (1.5 hour) round trip, with options of dipping in the cold mountain stream if you dare!
Dragon Rock Reptile Centre has an amazing collection of invertebrates, arachnids, mammals & reptiles. Personalized tours with an enthusiastic, knowledgeable guides make this a memorable experience. No children under 5 years. (Adults R90) Closed Mondays & Tuesdays. Pre-book a time slot to avoid disappointment.
Falcon Ridge Raptor Show Thrilling daily shows highlight the power, speed and intelligence of a varied selection of birds of prey. An insight into Falconry is included in the show and the public will learn how these birds use their wings, sharp beaks and claws to their advantage. (Adults R95) Closed Mondays & Fridays
Valley Bakery Stone ground, locally grown flour from the region is transformed into delicious meals at this special spot in the valley. Expect up to 30min wait for food after placing order. Closed on Sundays.
Vertical Rush Cable Trail Traverse along a 300m hiking trail along a cliff , harnessed in, while you are clipped onto the safety line. The trail is in an indigenous forest and has a wide variety vegetation.
Drakensberg Scootours offers an adventurous way to explore the magnificent mountains and enjoy breathtaking views of the escarpment. Scooters are non-motorized, making this an adventure-filled experience for the whole family. These Swiss-designed scooters are used in the Alps during the summer season on the ski slopes when the snow is gone.
Central Drakensberg Area (Champagne Valley) - 60km
The Drakensberg Boys Choir is representative of the multi-faceted cultures that make up this wonderful country. The school has created a new trend in the international choral scene that transcends the conventional. A unique style of diversity – Bach, Beethoven, Freddy Mercury, African, Jazz, Folk, etc. – whatever the style, they perform it with excellence and aplomb. Concerts are generally held on Wednesday afternoons during school term. Because of high demand pre-booking is essential. (R205 per person)
Helicopter Flips Nothing can match the totally exhilarating experience of flying in a helicopter, especially across the breath-taking scenery of the Drakensberg. A much more relaxing way of discovering these treacherous peaks and gullies. Flights from either Cathedral Peak or Champagne Valley. Pre-booking essential & weather permitting (from R980 per person)
White Water Rafting (November – May only) This is your typical one-day outing, five to six hours on the water. This section of the river offers more than enough action for all levels of experience on whitewater. It is surprisingly big, fast, continuous and safe (rapids from class 1 to 3+). You will be seeing parts of the Tukhela river that few people do. To ensure a quality river experience, group numbers are limited to six. (R695 per person)
The Drakensberg Canopy Tour is a fun and safe eco-adventure for the whole family. The tour typically lasts 3 hours, after which you will return to the reception to enjoy a well-deserved light meal. Led by well-trained guides, you glide between platforms perched in trees and on cliff faces, being inspired by the nature of the majestic Drakensberg. The ancient indigenous forest, waterfalls and cascading streams make this an opportunity not to be missed. (R695 per person) Open 7 days a week – rain or shine.
Golf 18-hole course at Champagne Sports Resort is designed by Hugh Baiocchi and set on perfectly manicured grounds and has spectacular scenery.
Sandra Lemmers Antiques & Museum takes you back in time to the 50’s when a Rand could stock your fridge.
Drakensberg Brewery is a 600 litre batch brewhouse situated in the picturesque Drakensberg region. The beer is made on site from malted barley, hops, yeast & fresh spring water. There is also a small wine & gin list for those that don’t enjoy beer. 10c from every beer sold goes to vulture conservation. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays.
Cathedral Peak Area (Didima) – 65km away
Mushroom Rock is a moderate 3 hour hike. Although this hike is short (6 km) it is a rather steep ascent to the spectacular sandstone landmark that has been eroded by wind & water. Push past the rock feature for another 500m and you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the escarpment & the Tseketseke River Valley (R80 per person park entrance, then additional R50 per vehicle hotel gate entrance)
Rainbow Gorge A moderate 5 hour hike (12 km) This is probably one of the most picturesque hikes in the area. Start from Didima Camp Car park & head towards the base of Tryme Hill, then eastwards on the path into the gorge. Once in the gorge itself, the path follows the river. Stick to the path right of the river until you can no longer. Cross over & keep walking up the gorge till you reach the chock (enormous boulder) wedged above your head over the river. River may be unpassable in summer (R80 per person park entrance)
Cathedral Peak Hike An extreme 8 -10 hour hike (20km)
A long arduous hike requiring a high level of fitness. Starts from Cathedral Peak Hotel, up the path to the Cathedral Ridge. Rock scrambling is often necessary due to rock slides on the gully below the peak. Essential to arrange a guide from the Cathedral Peak Hotel prior to arrival. (R80 per person park gate entrance, then additional R50 per vehicle hotel gate entrance)
Golf at Cathedral Peak Hotel offers a challenging 9-hole golf course, set against the magnificent backdrop of the Drakensberg and has been termed the “thinking golfers” course. (R150 each, R150 for club hire)
Golden Gate Area
Golden Gate National Park – 145km (1,45 hr) Impressed by two gigantic sandstone rocks, gold-colouredby the late evening sun and standing 76 meters high forming a kind of a gateway, this park was named “Golden Gate”. A variety of bird, plant & animal life can be found whilst driving or walking through the park.
Old Voortrekker Pass – 75km (1 hour)- A wonderful trip from the Lodge is to visit the old Voortrekker Pass, where in 1837 the Voortrekkers under Piet Retief and Gerhard Maritz crossed the Drakensberg Mountains. You can still see and read the graffiti at Kerkenberg where on Piet Retief’s 57th birthday his daughter painted his name. The old pass is still clearly visible and at the top of the pass is the statue of the ‘Barefoot Woman’. The views of the KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg are breathtaking! This is in the eastern Free State and not far from the Golden Gate National Park and the quaint town of Clarens.
Clarens – 165km (2 hours) A quaint little artist retreat that has blossomed into a busy tourist mecca, with art galleries, restaurants, craft breweries surrounded by spectacular sandstone cliffs.
Sterkfontein Dam – 75km ( 1 hour) This highly effective reservoir was constructed in the early seventies. The wall is an earth gravity type. The dam wall contains 19.8 million cubic metres of material making it the largest dam wall in South Africa with regard to volume. Great scenery across this turquoise blue body of water.
Drakensberg Pump Storage Scheme – 55km (45 min) It is difficult to imagine a power station inside a mountain, when there are hardly any signs on the surface. A special feature of the station is that it is constructed entirely underground with only a dam wall, lift shaft buildings and transmission lines visible at the surface. The four reversible pump turbines are situated 52 storeys below ground level. (FREE – pre-booking essential)
Nelson Mandela Capture Site – 145km (1,45hr) An extra ordinary audio- visual display in the museum tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s journey through life and how he built a new nation from within a conflicted South Africa. There is a unique sculpture at the site, which is a collaboration between artists Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose. It comprises 50 steel columns – each between 6.5 and 9.5 meters tall – set into the Midlands landscape. The approach to the site leads one down a path towards the sculpture where, at a distance of 35 meters, an image of Nelson Mandela, looking west, comes into focus. The 50 linear vertical units, line up to create the illusion of a flat image.
Tsonga Shoes – 140km (1,45 hr) Using the finest leather and their handcrafted promise, Tsonga bags and shoes are unique in style and comfort. 100% Made in South Africa.
Blue Berry Hill Cafe – 125km (1,20 hr) is a gallery for local artists and artisans, as well as a celebrated café, housed in large, barn-like structure that give sthe venue an understated appearance. Inside, there are large, open-plan areas filled with a rich tapestry of wares, ranging from furniture and household goods, to local artists’ paintings and sculptures. As famous as it is for its coffee, Blueberry Hill is revered for its blueberries, which are freshly picked on the farm and sold during the months of December to February.
Fordoun Spa – 125km (1,20 hr) Fordoun Spa boasts a team of experts that include skilled masseurs, Reiki and Bio-energy specialists, a traditional African Healer and highly trained aestheticians.
Fordoun owns a signature range of products, created in conjunction with Dr Elliot Ndlovu, herbalist and ethno botanist, who is a traditional African Healer and Inyanga, and a director of Fordoun Spa. Under his guidance, a number of products have been carefully created from indigenous traditional healing plants, especially for Fordoun. The range includes soaps, shower gels, massage oils, bath salts, creams and sprays, based on the theme of the seven Chakras and the seven colours of the rainbow. A luxury Eau de Toilette range, Ma’Ndlovu for women and BabaNdlovu for men, has been designed for both the local and export markets.
Ardmore Ceramics – 135km (1,35 hr) Ardmore Ceramics has grown into a vibrant art pottery business, making unique pieces of ceramic art. Since 1985, artist Fee Halsted has created modelers and painters from the local community and they have become renowned for their exuberant use of color and their distinctive modeling of African flora and fauna. The sale of these wonderful pieces of ceramic art uplifts and supports the Ardmore community and their families. There is also a unique range of homeware, handbags & fabric to add to this stable.