A few weeks ago Ray and I spent three days at the Drakensberg Mountain Retreat, on the northern edge of the Drakensberg Mountain range near the border of the Free State and KwaZulu Natal. The lodge is frequented by a herd of wild horses.

Drakensberg-2527Wild horses are pretty much like domesticated horses. Except you can’t pet them or ride them and they go wherever the hell they want.

There isn’t much to do in this part of the country, which was exactly what we were looking for when we booked the trip. We sat around the lodge, looked at the view, ate, hiked a little, and watched the horses.

Drakensberg-2177The Drakensberg Mountain Retreat offers great weekday specials. We initially booked an upstairs room but then got upgraded to this beautiful, huge downstairs room with its own enclosed patio, where I spent hours sitting with the windows open and watching the horses. There’s Ray sitting on the patio with the lodge’s trusted terrier and horse-chaser, Cato.

Wild Horses in the Northern Drakensberg

Theo, the lodge manager, told us the horses are descended from those who were abandoned in this area during the Anglo-Boer War more than a hundred years ago. I searched online but couldn’t find any definitive information about the horses. Anyway, I was charmed. Sitting and watching horses munch grass is a strangely soothing activity.

Drakensberg-2494Horses, as seen from our patio.

Drakensberg-2509Baby horse.

Drakensberg-2452Horsey lovebirds.

Drakensberg-2323Horse on a hike.

Drakensberg-2583Horse at sunset.

Hiking at the Drakensberg Mountain Retreat

The hiking trails around the lodge were fun (beware though: the trails are well marked but not always well maintained, and ridiculously steep in some spots), and the view from the lodge at sunset was amazing.

Drakensberg-2103The foothills of the Drakensberg, just a few steps from the lodge.

Drakensberg-2595Amazing sunset.

Drakensberg-2248The beautiful, misty Drakensberg as seen during a hike.

Drakensberg-2251Umm…Is this a trail?

Drakensberg-2365Ray occasionally became frustrated with the trail map.

Drakensberg-2412In this instance it was obvious where the trail ended. (Photo: Ray)

But for me, this holiday was all about the horses.

This one really liked me.

The Drakensberg Mountain Retreat is a great bargain, especially if you take advantage of the midweek specials. I definitely recommend it for a quick getaway from Joburg; it’s only about four hours’ drive. Note that this isn’t a five-star hotel though. The service is good but not great, and the food is plentiful but average, in my opinion.

That said, I loved the spacious rooms, the beautiful antiques, the view, the peacefulness of the setting, and of course, the horses. I would go back.

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