The Cavern Resort: An Oasis in the Drakensberg, South Africa

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg

“The family reunion is happening in the Drakensberg,” my dad announced, much to my confusion.

After checking what ‘the Drakensberg’ meant, I was horrified to discover that it was a mountain range in the middle of the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, far from any major city and nowhere near the country’s infamous game reserves. Hiking seemed to be the main attraction of the region, an activity that I quite frankly struggle to get too excited about.

However, the lure of 71 fellow relatives (no kidding. And that wasn’t all of us!) getting together outweighed my trepidation regarding the location, and so on a sunny afternoon in late September I found myself arriving at The Cavern, a resort and (to my pleasant surprise) spa in the middle of South Africa’s Drakensberg mountain range.

It was love at first sight.

Probably because my first sight was Lulu, the world’s cutest dog and resident at The Cavern, but also because the scenery was, quite simply, breathtaking. In addition, the resort itself was a perfect slice of relaxation that I was suddenly glad to have two full days to explore.

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg

This adorable dog is actually Daisy, but Lulu was always closeby!

As most of the family took off the next morning for mountain biking, hiking, and other such strenuous endeavours, I booked myself into the spa, also known as the Forest Retreat, for a massage. It truly is a retreat. A smattering of small, thatched-roof huts are hidden away from the main resort, each with its own small balcony overlooking the lush mountains that make this region so famous.

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg - Spa

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg - Spa

A few baboons watched curiously as I walked up the path that led to these huts, and birds provided the soundtrack to my morning stroll. I was almost sad to have to lie down for my treatment, as I could have spent all day sitting on the comfortable chair on the balcony, watching birds fly overhead and enjoying the tranquility. But as soon as the massage started I forgot all about the view as my pre-holiday stress melted away and my body was sent straight into relaxation mode.

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg

All of those endorphins must have done something crazy, because I found myself embarking on a gentle hike that afternoon. The previous evening’s storm had left behind a low shroud of mist across the mountain range and the result was a slightly mystical walk up and down green and brown hills, absorbing the pure silence.

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg - Pool

There’s no need to venture far, though. The grounds include a pool with a view that’s the perfect refreshing end to a hike or cycle (so I’m told) as well as a small lake, horse riding facilities, tennis courts, a bowling green and games rooms for when the rain arrives.

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg - Tennis Court

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg - Bowling

And the rains most certainly arrived. In fact, they cut short what was fast becoming an incredibly intense family game of lawn bowls. As the lightning flashed and thunder roared, we dispersed around the resort, some finding solace in a friendly game of pool or Scattergories, others braving the rain for some cycling, yet others retreating to their comfortable rooms for a pre-dinner rest.

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg Bar

One of my favourite locations in the resort was the Cave Bar, tucked underneath the dining room and decorated with skulls peering from nooks and crannies in the stone. Drinks could be ordered from the bar, or you could simply wander into the small cellar next door, packed full of local wines, all reasonably priced. We’d pop down there before dinner and grab a bottle to share at our table or to sip in the bar later in the evening.

Our food at The Cavern was all included, with incredible meal after incredible meal served by some of the friendliest staff you’ll ever meet. To celebrate a birthday in our group, we were treated to a serenade of a Capella songs that were so beautifully performed that we all piled into the hall later that night to listen to The Cavern’s own choir.

The Cavern Resort, Drakensberg

On our last day at The Cavern we decided to try something a little adventurous, so we drove a few minutes down the road to All Out Adventures, where we braved a ziplining tour among the tree tops (check out the video below to hear me scream – a lot). It was a terrifying, exhilarating, outrageously fun afternoon that I highly recommend if you ever find yourself here.

And please do find yourself here. Despite my original misgivings, I was hooked on this spectacular resort in the Drakensberg mountains the moment I arrived, and I would have spent far longer here if I’d had the time. But alas! The game reserves were calling, and so we continued our South African adventure with a self-drive safari.

Note: Rates at The Cavern start from around £60 per person per night, but be sure to check out their website for their latest prices.

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4 Comments

  • That is a really lovely piece. I am so glad you had an awesome time in out neck of the woods! Thanks so much for doing that video. Hope we will see you again one of these days!

  • lulu how cute! i love that name, and it’s now one of the names of the characters on a kid’s show my husband is producing. this looks like a perfect place to relax. i would love to hike around the area… and get a massage afterwards! the ziplining looks fun too. :) i’ve only done one in vegas through the desert. i’d love to try one in a different landscape through the trees.

    • Elle Croft says:

      Isn’t it the cutest name?! Ziplining in Vegas sounds amazing too! I missed out last time I was there but I’ll add it to the bucket list for next time!

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