Montusi Mountain Lodge
Montusi Mountain Lodge is a family run joint in a corner of heaven. Since 2010 they’ve rehabilitated the entire 10,000ha estate. They've re-planted forests and birdlife has flourished. It's also the only fancy establishment in this whole area with a full and uninterrupted view of the Drakensberg’s most famous chunk of rock, the Amphitheatre.
Wow. Now that's an escarpment. At 1,000m up and 5km long, the Amphitheatre lords over the wide, open, dramatic Drankensberg foothills and you can watch this scene change moods for hours on end. From your suite. And you may as well get comfy.
The closest town is Bergville and that's 48 km away. Settle in. Settle in. Silence. Solitude. Sanctuary. There's something about a mountain that humbles us with its size and brooding age or compels us to conquer it with a summit.
Either way mountains have long been revered as places of power. Throughout history, mystics and hermits retreated to their heights to obtain enlightenment. Some are seen as the abodes of gods and here, at Montusi Mountain Lodge, you will come face to face with the Northern Drakensberg. Your ruler. Driven by delusions of deity? Perhaps, but if part of you suddenly rose nearly 1,000m, straight up and not just for a moment but for 5km, you too may suffer from delusions of grandeur.
Accommodation is in 16 suites surrounded by a fairway-like garden. All have a view of the Amphitheatre and surrounding mountains.
There are ten Garden Suites. En suite with bath and walk in shower. A lounge with TV, DVD player, gas operated fire place and private patio.
There are four Family Suites which can accommodate 4 adults in two bedrooms. The ‘front’ bedroom has a kingsize double bed and a bathroom with bath and toilet.
The second bedroom has either two single beds or a king size bed and a bathroom with a shower and toilet. These rooms open onto an entrance area and lounge. TV, DVD player, gas fire place and private patio.
The two Mountain Suites are newer and bigger. Each has a bedroom with king size bed, large bathroom with bath and separate shower, lounge and private patio. TV, DVD player and gas fire.
Restaurant with under-floor heating and log fireplace; breakfast and dinner included for lodge guests; bar; WiFi; children's playground; swimming pool; tennis court; massage; covered parking
This is a 1,000-hectare estate and when you wake you're in for a treat. Every morning a local Zulu guide will take you for a wander, free of charge, and bombard you with tea, coffee and cookies. We repeat: tea; free of charge. Oh joy of joys (if you're English and made about tea that is; for the rest of us, coffee will do just fine thank you).
After that you can carry on hiking. The Royal Natal National Park is about a 20-minute drive away.
If you're up for it the lodge will organise a day hike to the top of the Amphitheatre. You'll have to be of average fitness and remember it sure is high up there. And the last ascent is via metal chain ladders... easy but definitely not for the height-averse.
Walk to the top of Montusi Mountain, check out the paintings in Bushman Cave and explore the depths of Waterfall Cave. There are various streams and rock pools for summer swimming. The Royal Natal National Park is about a 20 minute drive. The Tugela Falls plummets down five drops and is the second highest waterfall in the world and the highest in Africa.
Animalwise you can see Mountain Reedbuck, Vaal Rhebuck, Bushbuck and Eland and look out for sunbirds, sugarbirds, widows and wydahs on the lodge grounds.
Horse riding here is spectacular. You can walk to the stables from the lodge and they will customise the trails to suit you. Get ready to go up the mountain on horseback, hold on to your hats. And close your eyes.
And seeing as the lodge is on the 100km network of Northern Drakensberg MTB trails... it would be rude not to jump in your saddle.
There’s an Adventure Centre ten minutes drive from the Lodge. Try the free fall swing, trapeze, bungee trampoline, zip wire, paintball and quad bike tours to the river.
For golfers, the course is 8 km away.
Or just play tennis on the lodge’s court. You can use their equipment free of charge. The sweetest three words in the English language...? Perhaps.
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