When we moved back to South Africa, I made a promise to myself that I was going to explore this country and make sure I didn’t miss out on the amazing things it had to offer! Having already done a few things (like exploring Jozi and catching up on South Africa’s diverse culture), but they haven’t been too far from where we live in Gauteng and Limpopo province, so I decided that for Valentine’s I would take Raquel somewhere nice and different in South Africa.
I decided to surprise Raquel with a trip to the Drakensberg, which lies in the Kwazulu Natal province, a mere nine hour drive from our hometown. Drakensberg is Afrikaans for Dragon’s mountain and legend has it that this name was given to the mountain range by the Afrikaaner pioneer after smoking some ‘magic herbs’ and commenting the mountain looked like a dragon’s back… Ladies and gents… the effects of marijuana!
Considering the effort in getting there, I decided to make it a long weekend by leaving on Thursday and being back by Sunday. The nine hour drive to Sani Valley Lodge despite initially being much of the same thing (Bushveld of Limpopo and Guateng), was then replaced by flatlands of the Free State and then the approaching the Drakensberg, the lush green mountains being sliced by the N3.
As soon as we started driving into the Drakensberg valley, the landscape changed and started feeling very much like something you would see in the England or even Scotland, with maybe less Zulu round houses dotted in the hills, but the landscape was something very different to what I’ve been used to seeing in South Africa.
Nine hours later we were driving through a lake filled landscape heading towards Sani Valley Lodge. I decided on this lodge as it seemed the least built up and consisted out of just over half a dozen cabins on quite a large piece of land, compared to some of the overcrowded hotels and lodges in the area.
It was already 5pm when we arrived and the weather was far from great as dark clouds started gathering over the lodge, so Raquel and I ruled out a walked about and settled into our cabin with some dinner for our valentines dinner, nothing fancy, but some real good food prepared before by Raquel. The rest of evening was spent under covers reading and watching a bit of television.
Our plans for the next day included walking around the grounds and maybe some boating on the lakes, however, as soon as we got up, we realized that this plan might be slightly flawed as once again the sky threatened with dark clouds. So instead we decided to head into Underberg to pick up a few things from the supermarket before heading back to our cabin for lunch, reading and simply chilling out with each other surround by the absolutely breathtaking landscape covered in mist and rain.
One of the other reasons I decided to come to this area of Drakensberg was the famous Sani Pass, which we decided to do a tour of on the final full day in the Drakensberg. The tour turned out to be quite a fun and interesting experience, not only due to the other people on the trip but also because of our guide, Elias, who is without a shadow of a doubt the best tour guide I have ever come across.
Despite the misty and rainy weather we slowly made our way up Sani Pass, while Elias shared stories of the region, the Drakensberg, Sani Pass and anything we asked him about. I can only imagine that with a boring guide this trip could have been a bit of a let-down because of the dreary weather, but he made the trip fun and exciting.
It took us around an hour to get up to the Lesotho border post, where our passports got stamped and we entered Lesotho under mist but a few kilometers later, the clouds suddenly opened up and the sky was blue.
We stopped at a local village where Elias told more about Basotho culture and traditions before sampling some the local pot baked bread and listening to the Sotho sheppards playing some music made from rudimentary items they find.
With the visit in the village over, we moved back towards the border to Africa’s highest pub where we had lunch in the company of the other couple on our tour who were Zulu, so it was great to get some insight into a group of people which we have so little contact with her in the north of the country, especially in a small Afrikaans town.
After we descended down from the top of Sani Pass, we headed back to the lodge where we chilled out for the last time, having dinner and enjoying the amazing views before going to bed to get sleep for the long nine hour drive back home.
Even though the weather was slightly miserable, we thoroughly enjoyed the trip as it was fun to get away from the bushveld and enjoy the mountainous landscape that we are not so used to.
This post was based on our day of the 14th, 15th 16th and 17th of February