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