My husband has desperately needed a getaway from the stress and strain of work but he was unable to join us for the trip to Gooderson Monks Cowl, but fortunately he was able to get away this past weekend with me (5 and 6 March). We booked for another of Gooderson’s resorts – Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Spa Resort. It had been many, many years since we were there and we were amazed at the changes.
More units have been built to accommodate self-catering and those that wish to stay in the hotel. Our room still looked and smelled so new. There is also a beautiful spa, heated pool called “The Cove”, slides in the main pool for the kids, zip line, archery, mountain bike track, BMX track and adventure golf. The resort is looking fabulous.
Our room had the same layout and was furnished in the same way as the Superior Rooms at Monks Cowl. The only difference was that Drakensberg Gardens had two basins in the bathroom. The room also had its own private patio and we looked out onto the tennis courts and the riverside hill.
|Our very comfortable room at Orchard no 5|
|Bathroom with two basins|
|View from our patio with night decending and early morning|
It was a lovely drive to the resort but as is usual for our South African roads you need to keep a look out for the pot holes! Friday was also a very, very hot day and we drove with the aircon on the whole way. It took us under 3 hours to get there and we didn’t stop on the way. We had to wait our turn to sign in at the gate as there were a few cars ahead of us. Lovely greeting at reception and we were directed to our room which was Orchard no 5. Oh yes! When we were booking in we were asked about supper. Eagles Roost (carvery/buffet) was fully booked so our only other option was to book at the Bergview Restaurant (A la Carte).
We drove to our room and unpacked and then took a short walk around to see the changes. We had booked supper for 7pm (so late for us) and by the time we got to the restaurant we were very hungry. Found a nice table to sit at and looked at the menu. Quite a few delicious sounding dishes on the menu and it was hard to decide. Finally I went with the Rolled Pork Fillet (filled with a date and nut stuffing and wrapped in bacon). Neil had a beef fillet dish that was one of the specials that evening. We were very impressed with presentation of the dishes and later on the chef actually came and did the rounds of the tables to check on everyone. The food was delicious! Then of course it was time for the most important part of the meal – dessert! No trying to decide what to have this time as I went straight for Creme Brulee and Neil chose Malva Pudding. Again they were beautifully presented and very delicious. Slow walk back to our room and we watched the end of the T20 cricket match between the Proteas and Australia.
|Steak, pork, malva pudding and creme brulee|
We awoke to a beautiful and clear sky morning (clouds came later) and the promise of a very hot day. Breakfast started at 6:30am and was served in Eagles Roost restaurant. Huge buffet style breakfast with : cereals, fresh fruit, sausages, bacon, mushrooms, eggs cooked the way you like, fruit juices, teas, coffee and pastries. After fortifying ourselves for the day we made our way to the activities desk to get the scenic walks map and to book for me to go on a horse ride. I think it had been at least 2 or 3 years since I had last ridden a horse. The beginners were at 10am but I booked for a 1 hour (2 would have been madness) ride at 12pm.
Back to the room and we changed so that we could do the scenic walk that goes up to the hill in front of the resort. We actually started the walk where you are supposed to finish and we are so glad we did as it was a very steep hill that we went down at the end and it would have been awful to have gone up. Such a perfect morning for a walk – clear blue sky and such beautiful views of the mountains and of the resort once we reached the top of the view point. We crossed a newly built bridge over the river before climbing the hill to get to the view point. We spent some time at top taking photos before carrying on our walk. As we were going down a slight incline we heard a lot of noise coming from the forest to our right and we were thrilled to see a herd of Eland come rushing out. A couple of them even stopped to look at us as if to ask why we were disturbing them. On we went until we came to a small waterfall and rock pool and we sat to watch Platannas (frogs) swimming. Then it was a very careful descent down the steep hill and down to the river. We walked along a path by the river until we reached another bridge to cross over back to the resort. A fantastic and relaxing walk. Back to our room where I could rest a bit and then change for my horse ride.
|Scenic walk (hike)|
|View from hill overlooking Drakensberg Gardens and one of the Eland|
|Platanna pool, bridge back to the resort and me in the Hippo Pool|
I have my own helmet so I just needed to stop at the activities desk to pay for the ride (R190). There is a mounting paddock near the front entrance of the resort and here the guide waited with three horses. No one else came so it was just myself and the guide. Didn’t find it difficult to mount the horse but I must say at the end it was difficult to get off! I can’t show you any photos while on the ride as I didn’t take the camera with – needed two hands. The ride was perfect as we trotted, cantered and did one gallop. I was able to see a lot more of the property that the resort is on and I even discovered that there is a rock pool (Hippo Pools) in the river that you can swim in. I also found out that there is a gate on the property that is the entrance to the mountains (Garden Castle gate). We crossed the river twice and you really have to trust your horse to let him pick the path. On the way back to the resort we passed by the golf course which was very busy. I am definitely no longer riding fit (was in my teens) and I found a few bruise marks on a leg and several muscles complained. It was wonderful though to be back in the saddle.
|Before and after the ride|
After the ride it was back to the room and change into our swimming costumes as we were going to swim in Hippo Pools. First a stop to get something to drink and to buy bottles of water to take with. We drove to the pools as they a fair distance away. You can walk there but I was too tired after my ride to do that (we also passed a troop of baboons on the road there). Let’s just say that the water was fresh – very fresh! We were determined to swim so we gritted our teeth and went in. The rocks were slippery underfoot and we didn’t see any fish and nothing nibbled on us. We had fun trying to swim against the rushing river. Spent about 30 minutes in the water and then we sat on a large rock to dry, then it was back in the car to the resort. After parking back at our room we walked over to the main swimming pool for a swim. The water felt even colder than the river! Neil decided to have a lie down on a deck chair while I braved the cold water. After about 10 minutes I was getting too cold so I went over to The Cove (warm water pool). Oh my so divine!! I spent most of the rest of our time at the pool in The Cove’s warm water chatting to other weekenders. We had been hearing a lot of thunder for quite a while and we even saw a few lightning flashes over the mountains. It was time to get back to the room before the storm hit.
|The main swimming pool and The Cove pool|
|Saturday afternoon rain and the view of our patio on the Sunday morning|
It was fortunate that we left at the time we did (we both had a shower and I was able to use the hair dryer to dry my hair) as the storm caused the electricity to trip. We hadn’t had lunch and by the time it was supper we were very ready to eat. The electricity came on just before we left to make our way to Eagles Roost for the buffet. I love buffets! This was a very good one as it had my favourite – lamb. There was also chicken, vegetables, a noodle stir fry station, curry with sambals and a large array of desserts. We made a concerted effort to get the full benefit of the buffet. The power went out once while we were there and we just switched on the torch on my cellphone and carried on eating and enjoying. When we couldn’t possibly fit in another bite we walked the long way round to get back to our room. There weren’t any interesting movies to watch and we were tired after the busy day so it was a relatively early night.
We managed to sleep past our normal time for waking up and were sad that it was the day to leave. It was a beautiful and partly cloudy day in the Drakensberg and it was going to be hot again. Another yummy breakfast at Eagles Roost restaurant and back to the room where we found a great movie that we could watch before check out time. I had already packed the suitcase before breakfast so all we needed to do was do a final check and pack the car. Drove over to reception at 9:55am and settled our bill. Had planned to buy water from the shop at the resort but unfortunately it was closed at that time. We stopped at Underberg Cheesery and bought 3 different cheeses, a plain yoghurt and 2 drinking yoghurts to take home. Made a stop at Underberg Spar to buy water and saw that they had a very fancy looking coffee machine, so we ended up buying takeaway cappuccinos as well. We didn’t stop again on our slow trip home.
|Cappuccino bought from Underberg Spar|
I was very blessed to have had two weekends in a row at two Gooderson resorts in the Drakensberg and I am glad I got Neil away for a short break.
Where to for my next adventure?
Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Spa Resort
Drakensberg Gardens Road