It is a beautifully crisp Midlands morning when I step out of my house, ready for an adventure to the Drakensberg; looking for something out of the ordinary, something a little different, something unique.
So off on a road trip in the wide open out there.
My bestie is coming along with me (she is superb company and have I told you she takes great photographs yet?) and off we head. No GPS, but hey, if we get horribly lost, there is always the trusty cellphone, right?!
Albeit we’re in the dry season, the farmlands out towards Escourt are unmistakably beautiful. Wide open fields rolling off to the Drakensberg mountains with big marshmallow hay bales dotting the fields in the juxtaposed patches of the browns of winter against the green of the lucerne grown for cattle. To top it off, the mountains are still topped with snow from the recent frenzied snowfall.
After a few stops for landscape photos and the compulsory selfies, the car takes to the dirt road as I ‘ooh’ and ‘aaah’ at the views. On arrival at Antbear Lodge I am greeted by some rather unusual looking dwellings. The chapel combines wood, stone, thatch and corrugated iron. Not entirely what you would expect, but it all works well.
The main lodge makes me think of fairy tales…. maybe even a gingerbread house (okay so I do have a very active imagination).
The wooden sculpture of the Antbear in front of Antbear Lodge welcomes me as I alight from my vehicle. Well I was yearning for something different and boy did I get it.
One – Alternative Building & a Carpenters Dream
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the various buildings encompassing the rooms that are available, but some of these structures are built with straw bale construction. The walls are somewhat thicker than your normal dwelling and the insulation seems superior, but aside from this (and for the astute – a proportionately larger roof) you wouldn’t know the difference. This eco destination tries to do things efficiently and effectively using straw from the fields around the Lodge and wood from other people’s offcuts and ‘junk’ to sculpt their furniture from.
The wooden sculptures that make up the cupboards, night stands, headboards for the bed, chandaliers and decorative doors and windows are all made at the Lodge by Andrew and volunteers that come and intern here to learn more about carpentry. They are all fun and delightfully different and do make me wonder if I have stepped into a dreamscape, even if temporarily.
The locks on all the doors are made with wooden hinges and cogs and are all unique. It becomes a bit of a puzzle to watch them working and trying to figure out what slides where to make everything open and close.
Two – Dining Delight
One of the delightfully different things about Antbear Lodge is that all the guests can dine together (if they so choose) for Breakfast and Dinner in the main lodge. This room has a beautiful sweeping wooden staircase to a large lounge with a view to the rolling hills along with more sculptures abound with the chandaliers, tables and chairs and books on a bookshelf to keep you Company. There is also a bar off the side of the room where guests gather before Dinner for canapes and to catch up on the day’s activities.
As I arrive for Dinner I am thrilled to see the room lit with fairy lights and the wooden chandaliers with bright, flickering candles. The ambient light in the room, along with the music, set the scene for a lovely evening ahead. I sit with Andrew (the lodge owner), Lechal (the hostess who handled my many questions with gracious smiles and responses), my best friend and visitors from the Netherlands. I have never had an experience where I could sit and chat with total strangers like we had known each other for ages. Having this opportunity gave me insight into what it is like in the Netherlands and also helped me see South Africa from an entirely different perspective as well. I can’t recall having an experience quite like this before.
Much of the food at the lodge is grown in their own garden. Sustainability is practised as well with the milk, yoghurt and cheese produced by the cows on the farm. When talking with Andrew you quickly realise that this eco lodge is built on the concept of sustainability and minimising impact on its surroundings. You can hear this in the plans he explains for the Lodge and their volunteering programme that they are a part of.
Three – Wedding Venue
Something not many people know about Antbear is that it is a Wedding Venue as well. I walk from a windy afternoon into the Chapel and cant help but smiling at the quiet that surrounds me suddenly. The light streams through windows letting the beautiful view flow into the room, while the amber colour of the wood glows throughout the room. While outside the window a tree flowers with pink blooms like a blushing bride.
The Lodge can host 45 guests a night between their units. Catering is available as well with the Lodge’s cooks for up to 100 people making for a perfect intimate wedding. For the bride and groom who are yearning for a wedding to remember, this is the place for you.
Four – Luxury Cave
Oki doki. Yes you read right. A cave. A luxury cave at that! Imagine a really nice hotel room. Now change everything. But keep the luxury, the view to die for, the jacuzzi and the hammocks.
To quote Andrew…
“If you are going to propose, do it here. If the person says no, there is no way they are going to say yes anywhere”.
I sit at sunset and sip my wine while I watch the light reflect off the dust in the air, I think I rather agree. What an absolutely gorgeous vista to wake up or go to sleep to. Or even the most perfect setting for private dining (insert proposal here ). The large windows make make for the most amazing star gazing opportunity on a winters night too, with the landscape bathed in silver moonlight. You may even be able to spot some satellite as they make their way across the night sky.
The lovely thing about this Lodge is the units are all unique boasting different features along with beautiful fire places to make sure you have a warm room all night long. Its the perfect place to come and relax and get away from the hubub of life. Read a book, catch up with loved ones, take hikes, go for a horse ride, mountain bike, spot the vultures from a microlight and so so much more.
So why not adventure out into the Wilds and hit four great points with one… well, Antbear. It will make for a great chapter in anyone’s adventure book.
You can get in contact with them on:
- Cell: 076 4412362
- Tel: 031 813 5995
- Tel: 036 3523143
- Skype: antbearlodge
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.antbear.co.za
Or even click here to make an online booking.
Once again, thank you so much to Kirsten Hughes Photography for the lovely images provided for this post.
And with that, I am off to another adventure. Until then…..see you on the road.