My friend and I were invited to a wedding in the Drakensberg but as we were hailing from Cape Town, we decided to fly to Durban and drive the rest of the way. After a two-hour flight, we collected our rental car and embarked on the long 3.5hr drive to Cathedral Peak Hotel. KwaZulu-Natal is an extremely lush province with an extensive coastline that provides breathtaking views of the ocean on some of these roads.
The last portion of the journey winding into the Drakensberg takes a little longer than expected because the roads are rural but are in the process of being restored. We passed through little villages where cows and horses cross the roads and school children skip together through the fields on their way home. Finally, we arrived in a misty paradise, hidden in the mountains.
The room we stayed in was a Standard Room that is all-inclusive of meals and activities. It comes equipped with an en-suite bathroom, hairdryer, mini-fridge and coffee-making facilities. A helpful little guide is placed inside where all the services are listed along with wildlife that calls the region home.
Upon returning to the room on the first night after some exploration, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the hotel has a complimentary turn-down service complete with small chocolates and a different bedtime story printed on a leaflet that changes every evening.
The hotel is known for its spectacular buffet spreads. Guests are assigned a table in the dining room that remains theirs for the duration of their stay. Breakfast, dinner and tea with cookies were included in our stay and we ordered lunch from the room-service menu or opted to sit on the terrace.
The spreads have everything including salads, DIY stir-fry, fresh trout, a carving table, pastas, vegetables, soups, freshly-baked bread and a massive array of desserts. There is also Albert’s Bar which serves drinks at your own cost.
Hiking trail start points are well marked at different spots at the main hotel building but you can also obtain a map from the reception that details the routes. Walks in the Drakensberg are must because of the heritage that is hidden in these mountains – including paintings in the caves! We chose to do the Blue Pools trail which runs for around 5km and is a rather easy walk, ending up at a stream with colourful rocks visible under the water.
There are many trails that reach waterfalls, including a very easy trail to the nearby Doreen Falls. We went at the end of winter which made for a wet visit with dew on all the foliage and a strong flow throughout the river systems.
The day of the wedding arrived and we were the first at the chapel that sits at the bottom of the property. The hotel makes special arrangements for couples with a stay in the Honeymoon Suite and many extras such as decor and a reception venue that is separate from the main dining area.
Drinks and snacks were provided for wedding guests outside the reception and we absorbed the streams of sunlight coming down while drinking a glass of sparkling wine. The food and wine at the reception were of the same quality as the general dining area and vegetarian options were made available to cater for everyone.
Activities on Offer
The above picture is of the climbing wall on the property that overlooks the entire valley. There is also a mini-golf course, a jungle-gym for children, fishing, horse-riding, cycling, bowls, quad-biking and a games room where guests can play things like ping-pong or pool.
The Drakensberg is abundant with wonderful creatures that roam right through the hotel’s grounds. We witnessed a congress of baboons running across the hills in the distance – but they are fairly skittish and generally won’t approach guests. However, one did take advantage of our room’s sliding door being open and almost got through the door before we closed it. Sweeter animals include little buck, plenty of birds and some squirrels in the trees. There are also butterflies that flit through the air every now and again.
We were disappointed to leave so soon but once the wedding celebrations were over, we had to make our way back on the long road to Durban. If you’re considering a wedding with a similar feel, have a look at some other wedding ideas in South Africa.