Sometimes a quick escape to the mountains is all you need to reset and reconnect with those you love – and how lucky we are to have the magical Drakensberg mountain range just a few hours’ drive from the North Coast.
As the year draws to a close and the madness of the silly season slowly starts to descend, a quick family trip to the country was the perfect way to get everyone rebooted and ready to take on the final quarter of this year.
We were thrilled to have been invited to spend the weekend at Belfast Guest House in the Southern Drakensberg recently. So, on a Friday afternoon two families (with five children between us) headed out of Ballito on a road trip bound for Underberg.
By late that afternoon, the car was unpacked, the fire lit and the drinks opened. Breathing in the mountain air, we sat back and watched as the older kids jumped on their bikes and started exploring the farm and the younger ones kicked soccer balls and made mud pies. Bliss.
Belfast Guest House is a luxurious self-catering retreat, situated just off the main road between Underberg and Kokstad. The beautiful, big house sleeps nine (yes, nine) people and has the most exquisite views of the berg from the long veranda.
Perfectly laid out for two families, each side of the house has two bedrooms (with a ‘main’ bedroom en-suite on each side). The other two rooms have two single and three single beds respectively.
The bathrooms in the main rooms are an absolute treat with fabulous heated towel rails (my favourite spoil!) and underfloor heating, much to the delight of the kids before and after bath time!
The classic, modern country style house is fully equipped with a great kitchen (with big side-by-side fridge and freezer, a dishwasher, electric oven and gas stove) and a large lounge and dining area (space is important when you have five small people running around!).
As for the adults, our favourite spot was without a doubt the bar area, which has a large screen TV (it is rugby world cup season after all), and an open fireplace. The bar, lounge and main bedroom all open onto the big veranda and braai area, where we indulged in a glass or two of good red wine.
The house is situated on a large farm which has a beautiful river within walking distance. The kids were thrilled when we decided to have sundowners at the river, where they played on the rocks and had an absolute ball ‘accidently’ falling into the water.
Mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable, but we were lucky enough to enjoy hot sunny days (so the kids could swim) and cooler evenings (so we could light up the fireplace).
The day after we arrived, we headed into town and spent a few hours at the annual local agricultural show – a first for all of us! Fully embracing the country vibes, the kids had a great time checking out the big farm machinery and flea market, watching the mini polo tournament (Underberg is apparently home to many Springbok polo players!) and drinking milk straight from the cows! Homemade pancakes finished off the fantastic farm experience.
We were tempted to head up Sani Pass (which is literally a stone’s throw from the guest house), but decided to save it for our next visit, and instead headed to one of the many resorts where the children enjoyed playing in the pools and tucking into a hearty lunch overlooking the stunning Lesotho mountain range.
Belfast Guest House is well positioned for pretty much any Drakensberg experience, whether you’re looking for adventure and fun (hiking, mountain biking, swimming, golf) or are just wanting to relax in the fresh mountain air and scenic countryside!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Rates are R450 per person per night (babies under 2 years are free and there is a minimum charge of R1000 per night out of season and R2700 in season and over long weekends).
Details: [email protected]; www.belfastguesthouse.co.za; 082 788 3902
Text: Leah Shone