The Drakensberg MountainsJanuary 23, 2016 in Lesotho ⋅ 8 °C
South Cape DC, Western Cape, South Africa
Saturday, January 23, 2016
We collected another car this morning and headed north, passing Pietermaritzburg and turning off the motorway at Howick to take the scenic meandering Midlands route through the most beautiful countryside. If you had been told you were in England you might almost have taken it on board. The landscape is bigger and more majestic, but one can certainly see how 'The Midlands' came to be. Everything is very green and undulating with plentiful trees. This is mixed farming country. Geraldine and Reg, you would love it! The road twists and turns and there are small villages to explore and a variety of crafts on offer. The flowers were a particular joy to me, wild longiflorum lilies, eremurus, rare pink gladioli, stylosis lily, arum lilies and evening primrose to name but a few.
The one stop we did make was at Howick Falls, the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962. It is such a beautiful area and in a split second his life was changed forever. A new museum is in the process of being built and at the moment an exhibition is set up in a glorified shed! It was so impressive. We lingered for an hour taking it all in and came away with the the reinforced feeling that here was an exceptional man whose life somehow seemed to be guided by a hand that was not his own. His beginnings were humble as the youngest son of a tribal chief in the Transkei. A friend persuaded his very traditional principled father to allow his son to attend the local English Methodist Mission School. It was here that he was given the English name Nelson, his birth name being Rolihlahla, which means ' pulling the branch of a tree, or, the one who disturbs the established order'. Prophetic or what? There began a process that he would negotiate all the days of his life, bridging the gap between his traditional tribal roots and the modern world.
Our continuing journey took us to a smaller more twisty road. We climbed up and up and there were potholes in the potholes. It had now started to rain hard and we began to wonder where on earth we would end up. Finally we spied the long awaited signpost 'Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse' and we turned on to a dirt track. Thank God for the 4x4. We climbed steadily for another 5kms, when incongruously there suddenly appeared a gateway set in a concrete wall and we had arrived. What a surprise awaited us. As we drew down the drive and parked in the covered cartshed a man materialised bearing a tray. He came to the car and opened my door. "Welcome, my name is Amen, would you like a drink of homemade lemonade?" proffering the tray and so began one of the most extraordinary evenings of our trip so far.
The rain continued to fall and quickly we and the luggage were whisked to our Wild West themed cabin. There are 11 cabins/ suites here and they are all differently themed. We were thunderstruck, plus once more the view out on to the mountains had to be seen to be believed.
"Come over to the house when you are ready for some refreshment" said our hostess, so we duly did as we were bid. We are surrounded by a beautiful garden, dripping at the moment to be sure, but lovely none the less, with the added bonus of the Drakensberg Mountains as a backdrop. We followed the directions to this amazing modern house set on a dammed lake. Weaver birds were flitting about, feeding their young in their nests hanging from the trees. Bulrushes fringed the edge and the whole effect was like something out of a film set. My eyes nearly popped out of my head and that was before we had seen the inside, which was equally mind blowing. Suitably refreshed, the dinner arrangements were explained. Here you eat in, as there is literally nowhere else to go. I would describe this establishment as a mountain gourmet's retreat. The dinner consists of five courses and you are taken through them one by one beforehand whilst sipping a pre dinner drinky. Masterchef eat your heart out, this is serious cheffing. The wine cellar is underground and you descend to select your preferred wine from a large selection. We ate this fabulous meal at a table overlooking the floodlit lake and it was a night to remember to say the least. As we left to return to the cabin, Phillippa, mine host said, " breakfast is relaxed, but culinarily serious. Arrive any time after 9 for a three course start to your day" (!!!!!!?) I'll fill you in tomorrow.
I was up early for me (I know, shock horror). The morning was crystal clear and the views even more spectacular. Cleopatra herself was now clearly visible. She is a rock formation named by an English soldier far from home and missing his young wife. The farm has always been known as Cleopatra's farm ever since. I wanted to take a quiet walk around the property whilst all was ....well...quiet! The bird life is fantastic. I spent quite a while watching the weaver birds noisily feeding their chicks, when a flash of blue caught my eye. Perched to my right peering into the water was a kingfisher! He spied a fish, dived down and caught it and returned to eat it on his perch, right in front of me. What about that?! I can't get over it.
Breakfast was yet again a culinary tour de force. Three small courses of pure heaven and the trouser waistband situation is becoming desperate. In one way we are disappointed that we are only here one night and in another relieved! This is the perfect spot for the wine group away weekend. Places to visit, walks galore, scenery to die for, plus food and wine to tempt an Egyptian mummy. Anyone up for it?Read more