Friday, 17 July 2020

Antbear Eco lodge – A Drakensburg Accommodation near Giants Castle

As featured on the prestigious lifestyle TV series Top Billing, Antbear Eco lodge truly lives up to its expectations!


One thing I definitely missed during this lockdown (And I'm sure most of us can say the same!) is travel. Having been stuck in the house for literally months, I craved the feeling of being free in the outdoors and getting some fresh air. I recently traveled to Antbear, an ecolodge in the Drakensberg, over a weekend to get a taste of what travel will look like post-covid.  The first thing I can say is I was definitely right about wanting to experience the freedom of the outdoors - being out in nature in the middle of the mountains was literally the most freeing experience and took me to such a happy place, away from the daily stresses of this pandemic. 



Affordable Drakensberg accommodation, Drakensberg hotel, Antbear Lodge



TRAVEL IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID 19


There were also a lot of reassurances that made me feel safe. Staying in a cottage surrounded by open space and only really having contact with people during meals also gave me a lot of peace of mind. And even then, there was ample space in the dining hall as well as tables outside; which is perfect if you don't want to risk dining in a closed hall (Although it was super cold and dining outside didn't sound as inviting at 5 degrees!).


At the end of the day, travel is still one off the most fulfilling and satisfying experiences you can spend money on and the travel industry accounts for literally millions of jobs that put food on the table for so many people. 


At the time that this was written (July 2020) leisure travel in South Africa is prohibited due to COVID19. While I understand the necessity of this, there are ways we can still support the industry - prebook your trips for whenever restrictions let down, for the next 2-3 years I urge you to travel local and support these establishments as they try to recover from the revenue lost during lockdown, and personally I highly recommend that instead of hotels (That have a lot of people in communal, enclosed spaces) travel to independent lodges and places surrounded by nature - you'll be surprised how rarely you're in high risk situations when you're surrounded by fresh air and open spaces.


Anywho, lets look at what you can expect from Antbear Lodge!


Affordable Drakensberg accommodation, Drakensberg hotel, Antbear Lodge, the Drakensberg


Where?

 

Nestled in the Central Drakensburg, in between The Midlands Meander and Giants Castle, lays a hidden gem of the Drakensburg, Antbear Eco Lodge. The lodge is only a 2-hour drive from Durban or 4-hours if you’re traveling from Johannesburg. Regardless of where you’re coming from, Antbear Eco Lodge is sure to give you a get-away experience like none other.

 

Accommodation

 

What makes this Drakensberg accommodation option so special is that we are offering cozy & comfortable accommodation in a luxury cave. Glass doors open onto a wooden deck with hammock chairs and an uninterrupted view of the Drakensberg Mountains. We also offer accommodation in mountain view suites and garden view suites

 

Each room is uniquely crafted and designed in a rustic and proudly South African theme. No 2 rooms are alike, so no matter which room you stay in, you’re guaranteed to get a different experience that is truly South African, every time you visit!

 

We were lucky enough to stay in a unique cottage which boasted breath-taking views of the surrounding landscapes, both of the beautiful gardens and the amazing wonder of the Giants Castle.

 

I stayed in one of the mountain-facing cottages - cottage 5. One of my favourite parts of the room was the beautiful fireplaces that made the cold Drakensberg nights bearable!


Affordable Drakensberg accommodation, Drakensberg hotel, Antbear Lodge

Affordable Drakensberg accommodation, Drakensberg hotel, Antbear Lodge, Places to stay in Drakensberg

Affordable Drakensberg accommodation, Drakensberg hotel, Antbear Lodge


Attractions and Activities

 

Whether you’re looking to just chill out and enjoy a relaxing experience in the middle of nowhere or if you’re feeling a little adventurous, Antbear Eco Lodge has you covered. Or why not do both!

 

On our first day at the lodge we decided to relax, chill out and watch the sunset over the Drakensberg Mountains, It was breath-taking to say the least. An experience that truly makes you feel at one with nature.


Affordable Drakensberg accommodation, Drakensberg hotel, Antbear Lodge


On our second day we decided to be a little adventurous and attempt the hiking trail with our guide, Deon Small from Berg Adventures. The trail had taken us to the top of the hill behind the lodge which boasted spectacular views of the open Drakensberg landscapes, this was the perfect spot for us to rest and enjoy some snacks and coffee before returning back. The trail had taken us 4 hours to complete at a slower than normal pace with a total of 8km’s covered. It was tiring but we had come out victorious and had conquered it. All in a days work as they say!


Drakensberg Mountains hike South Africa

animals in Drakensberg mountains

Hike in Drakensberg, South Africa


Thereafter we returned back to our cottage to rest before going to check out the horses. Unfortunately we were too tired from the hike to go horse riding, so we just decided to take a few cool pictures with the horses.

 

For those seeking an easier hiking option, there is a shorter 1- hour trail that visits the dams on the property and makes for a lovely stroll in the afternoon.

 

Later that evening we went star gazing and listened to the African stories of the stars told by our guide Mlendeni Sitole, all while relaxing in a hammock with our hot water bottles provided by Antbear Lodge.


Horse riding in Drakensberg Mountains South Africa

Horse riding in Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa


Antbear offers the following Attractions and Activities:

 

·      Horse Trails

·      Animal Farm

·      Hot Air Ballooning

·      Woodworking Lessons

·      Microlight Flights

·      Mountain Biking

·      Hiking Trails

·      Relaxation

·      Star gazing hammock camp

 

Food

 

Our first dinner was a set menu consisting of citrus butternut soup as a starter, creamy chicken tagliatelle as a main and crepe for dessert. I absolutely loved the creamy butternut soup and healthy, crepe dessert, however I found the pasta to be bland (Well I'm Indian, my food needs to be at least a li'l spicy!).


Restaurants in Drakensberg

Food in Drakensberg

Restaurants in Midlands Meander South Africa

For the second dinner we had a broccoli & cauliflower soup starter (I can't rave enough about this! I usually find butternut soup to be my soup of choice but this broccoli & cauliflower soup blew away my taste buds with its creaminess and rich flavour), the main was a braised pork chop with savoury cous-cous and farm vegetables (Again, absolutely delish!) and dessert was a chocolate mousse (Which everyone loved!).


Dinner midlands meander

Dinner Drakensberg

Food in Drakensberg


I didn't get any pictures of the breakfast but the breakfast was a buffet style with cold options such as cereal, fruits etc. and the option to order a freshly made warm breakfast.

 

A few more special things about Antbear:


While it wasn't in operation at the time, Antbear offers Hot Air Balloon rides over the Drakensberg and Midlands! I strongly believe experiencing a hot air balloon ride is something everyone should have on their bucket list (I'll never forget my experience of it!) Prices start from around R3000.


Fancy a cave stay? They also have a cave room! It was booked out while we were there (And is seemingly almost always booked out!) but I did get a peek into it and trust me these pictures don't even do it justice. It's so gorgeous and unique!


Andrew, the owner of Antbear, is such a gem! We had the pleasure of conversing with him during meals and very interesting conversations about the current state of the travel industry, little known facts about Antbear, some little tech and digital side projects he's getting up to as well as just some interesting stories in general.


Cave hotel South Africa

Website

https://antbear.co.za 



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