The final destination on our epic family holiday that took us from Cape Town to KZN was Antbear Lodge which lies in the middle of nowhere amidst the golden hills of the Central Drakensberg.
The Central Drakensberg
The Central Drakensberg area is the part of the Drakensberg Mountain Range that is situated off the N3 between the towns of Bergville, Estcourt and Winterton and near Harrismith and Mooi River.
The central Drakensberg region is one of the most popular in the whole Drakensberg as it’s where many of the most majestic peaks can be found including Cathedral Peak, Champagne Castle, Monks Cowl, Cathkin Peak, Injasuti and Giants Castle.
Our trip around the Drakensberg and the Midlands found us staying in 4 very different parts of the area and we loved the variety that this exposed us to. This part of the ‘Berg was an area filled with rolling hills and our accommodation was set a bit back from the mountains themselves which meant we found ourselves enjoying the views in an entirely different way.
Our Unique Farm Stay at Antbear Lodge
Our arrival at Antbear Drakensberg Lodge was a bit earlier than anticipated so we arrived to a quiet reception area and found ourselves discovering the large dining room and cosy lounge upstairs where the kids found the large handmade chess set!
This was the perfect first experience of Antbear as our stay was to continue in a very similar vein – quiet, peaceful, relaxed and surrounded by hand-carved wooden items at every turn.
Incredibly, most of Antbear Lodge has been handmade – from the main buildings to the furniture to the accessories – the stained glass and woodworking skills on display are on another level. Artistic and interesting, the lodges 2 lounges, wine cellar, bar and dining room area all display the handiwork of the owner and his father.
Already a week into our holiday we were all well rested by this time, which meant we’d all fallen into a
lazy leisurely pace of life. This holiday was actually quite a revelation for us. For the first time in our family’s history we had gone away for longer than a week – about 12 days. As I mentioned in an earlier post we had also done very little pre-planning and had rather opted to arrive and let the holiday unfold. Both of these adjustments to our usual holiday schedule made a significant impact on our enjoyment of this trip.
The longer length of the trip meant we didn’t have to do something every day. We could choose to be busy one day and rest the next. We could opt to take the days spent traveling between our various accomodation options in the Drakensberg slowly, stopping along the way to enjoy the journey and then really relaxing as soon as we arrived with no need to rush off anywhere again for the day.
The lack of a “to do” list meant we weren’t pushed for time to fit everything in. We just decided what we were going to do each morning and then did that – leaving enough time to wake up a bit later and enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading out to explore. It also meant the pace of our day was slower.
All in all we found this way of holiday worked really well for us. There was a great balance to the busy and the rest. We all finished books for the first time in a very long time. We had afternoon naps, we played games and we had time to chat next to the fire. All essential elements of a great family holiday!
An added bonus of our choices of accommodation in the Drakensberg and Midlands is that they were all located in naturally beautiful places with spectacular views offering an amazing sense of space and time for reflection. No loud music or noisy parties for miles around!!
On arriving at Antbear we were given a choice of 3 rooms and opted for the smallest, yet cosiest of the options. Our room at Antbear was Room 3 which is known as a garden suite but just a few steps and you have the most incredible view. We chose this option as it is a family suite with the main double bedroom downstairs alongside a small seating area with wood-burning fireplace and a little kitchenette.
Upstairs in the small loft area are 2 single beds under the eaves which the kids fell in love with – that and the jacuzzi spa bath in the en-suite downstairs! To be honest, as Capetonians, we ALL loved that. We’d been longing for a bath through the trip, wishing there would be one at each spot we stayed… if you can believe it our wish only came true at our final destination where we ALL made the most of the plus size jacuzzi bath!
The Cave at Antbear Lodge
Another one of the accommodation option at Antbear Lodge is one of the most unique on offer in the area – The Cave.
I managed to get a sneak peek before someone checked in and snapped a few photos…
This is the spot to head if you’re really looking for complete privacy. Tucked beneath an overhang the cave is completely hidden from prying eyes and offers the most incredible 180 degree panoramic views from Giant’s Castle to the Amphitheatre.
A jacuzzi bath, king sized bed and open fire place along with hanging hammock chairs on the deck make this the ultimate romantic escape.
A Hot-Air Balloon Ride in the Drakensberg
One of the highlights of our time at Antbear took place on our last morning when a family of Dutch tourists were attempting to make their third and final attempt to take off in a hot air balloon over the Drakensberg.
We had watched their disappointment the day before when the winds weren’t quite right, so set our alarms to ensure we didn’t miss their early morning attempt…. although we almost did! It turns out waking up and getting dressed and out the door when you aren’t actually going up in a hot air balloon yourself isn’t quite as motivating as when you ARE!
But we didn’t want to miss this opportunity for our kids to see a real-life hot air balloon take to the skies. This would be a huge novelty for them, there are not many hot air balloons in Cape Town thanks to the wind!
We arrived after the inflation of the balloon which was a pity but fortunately they had not yet taken off so we were able to see the balloon up close and then watch them silently ascend into the skies and drift off over the Drakensberg against the watercolours of the sunrise!
A Sustainable Farm Stay Experience in the Drakensberg at Antbear Lodge
Another aspect of our time at Antbear that proved to be a huge highlight was the fact that this is essentially a sustainable farm. Our kids LOVED all the animals and the opportunity to interact with them.
We hand fed lambs and milked cows and headed out to feed the donkeys early one morning…
There were also two adorable pigs that stole our hearts!!! These funny creatures are not usually the type you would think of as cute and cuddly but these two were hilarious because as soon as you tickled their bellies with a stick they would flop right on over and lie dead still allowing you to tickle them all over (not unlike my own children in fact!)
We loved going to visit these two funny piggies each evening to give them their daily tickle and they loved us visiting too, even becoming quite demanding about it!
Sunset over the Drakensberg
Where we were able to enjoy the sunrise at our previous accommodation at Pleasant Places in the Midlands, at Antbear we had the opposite – and quite a fitting ending to our holiday.
Here sundowners are taken seriously – the sunsets over the Drakensberg mountain range are nothing short of epic and the skies turn a riot of orange, purple and pink with every passing moment.
Antbear is a truly magical place to watch the sunset, in fact it’s almost a requirement from this amazing vantage point. There surely is nothing else that could be more important that spending the time soaking in the last rays of the day when it looks as spectacular as this!
Contact Antbear Drakensberg Lodge
P171 Moor Park/Giants Castle Road, Central Drakensberg
Latitude: 29° 08′ 34.02″ S
Longitude: 29° 49′ 0.18″ E