Durban - Most of us dream of taking a relaxing holiday in a beautiful place where we can unwind with a good book, or take a bit of exercise, or share time with our loved ones.
Family holidays are among the most treasured memories held by many.
The reality, however, is that all too often they can be incredibly difficult to plan and stressful – and you arrive home exhausted and in need of a break.
The Cavern Resort and Spa, in a secluded valley high in the foothills of the northern Drakensberg, has been providing holidays to remember for decades. I have wonderful boyhood memories of the place and while a lot has changed over the decades, the essential things have remained constant.
Location is one key factor. The Cavern is on 3 000ha of private reserve adjacent to the Royal Natal National Park Amphitheatre beneath sandstone cliffs with views stretching hundreds of kilometres.
Ruth and Bill Carte were employed as managers in 1941. Then they bought the farm and the family has been running it ever since.
As a youngster I was taken with the relaxed, convivial atmosphere and even then had the impression that nothing was too much trouble.
Now I appreciate how superbly efficient their operation is, especially seeing that the Cavern offers a seemingly endless list of activities for the whole family to enjoy, a spa for parents to unwind in and a play room which will entertain children for hours, especially during summer afternoon thunderstorms.
The resort is a lovely place to simply relax. If the idyllic setting and tranquillity are not enough, the Forest Retreat Spa on the edge of a lovely fern forest will surely take any edge off.
There is tennis, lawn bowls, fly-fishing and kids of all ages can canoe on the dam. There are pony rides or horse trails and a vulture colony to visit.
The Cavern has an extensive annual list of activities ranging from sporting events, nature, art and photographic courses through to stargazing weekends, Christmas in July and more.
There are daily guided hikes to some of the most beautiful places in the Drakensberg, including Bushman paintings, the infamous Cannibal Cavern from which the resort got its name, Echo Cave and Sungubala. The Cavern will even take you to Tugela Gorge and the top of the Amphitheatre. There’s also mountain biking and nearby bungee jumping, canopy tours and quad biking.
The Cavern offers two types of thatched accommodation. The en suite standard accommodation is set in gardens with a vibrant mix of indigenous plants, filled with the sounds of birdlife. Superior rooms and suites have magnificent views of the surrounding mountains with the sounds of waterfalls and streams through indigenous forests.
And then there’s the hearty grub, with children below seven years old well looked after in their own dining room. Full board and fresh air seem to pique the appetite and parmesan and almond crusted kingklip with a lemon cream sauce, double chocolate mousse tower were just two menu choices that helped increase my waistline.