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The northern Drakensberg has some of the most special views anywhere in the world, and the four-star Montusi Mountain Lodge is the perfect place to enjoy them.
The lodge is situated on a 1 000 hectare estate, with each building well placed to take full advantage of views of the Amphitheatre. The Carte family, Jean and her daughters, have worked wonders transforming a once wattle-infested wasteland into a conservation area that includes indigenous and man-made forests. This resulted in the return of abundant birdlife and mountain reedbuck, Vaal rhebuck, bushbuck, duiker and eland.
Like any mountain resort there are many hiking trails and mountain-bike paths (take your own bike). There is also horse riding for all levels, fly-fishing, a tennis court and a natural-look swimming pool.
The uninterrupted views of the Amphitheatre inspired us to climb to the top from the car park at Witsieshoek and get up at sparrows for the hike into the Tugela Gorge to the magnificent waterfall tumbling over the escarpment. There are plenty of other activities nearby, including canopy tours, bungee jumping, bridge swinging, quad biking and paintball.
Undoubtedly, though, the most popular past-time remains doing nothing. There is ample space to relax. Soak up the sun on a lounger at the pool, sip filter coffee on your private patio or curl up with a book in the lounge surrounded by original art by SA artists.
You’ll encounter no conferences, crowds or loud music at Montusi, apart from an intimate wedding or two, because the Cartes aim to ensure that guests have privacy and peace. To this end, each of the 14 garden suites has its own patio and panoramic views of the mountains, and the lodge is positioned at a distance to ensure that neighbouring activity is not a disturbance. The stylish suites are decorated in the earth colours of Africa, and have thatched roofs.
Each suite has a bedroom with king-size bed, en suite bathroom, lounge, gas fireplace, wet bar, TV and DVD player. There is underfloor heating in the bathroom, and warm winter sheets and hot water bottles for crisp winter nights.
Meals (awarded a chef’s hat in the Portfolio Collection) are a highlight, with gourmet food prepared by uber-talented chef Jade-Ashleigh du Plessis. Enjoy your meals outside, with a view of the Amphitheatre, or in the intimate restaurant with underfloor heating and a fireplace.
Montusi is faultlessly maintained. The family really care that you have a good time, and are rightly proud of their piece of peace. A fabulous haven. Rates start at R1 100 per person sharing. Call 036 438 6243 or visit www.montusi.co.za. - Sunday Tribune