Back to my youth
I have the distinct impression of journeying back to my youth on the drive out to the Southern Drakensberg. Many of my family holidays have been outdoors based adventures and the drive and rolling mountains remind me of this; creating an almost palpable excitement.
Potholes and Panoramics
So off I trundle to Underberg from Pietermaritzburg. The road reminds me of the Sheryl Crow song, ‘every day is a winding road…’ because the road here is exactly that. You wind through hills and valleys, forestry, countryside and farmlands all the while trying to avoid goats, cattle and potholes. It is a bit like playing the old game, Battleships; between looking at the panoramic views and dodging a variety of potholes. One wrong move and you will be sunk.
Once you have driven through Underberg, you turn onto the Drakensberg Gardens road. This road is impossibly beautiful. With the river alongside you and the hills stretching up to the stony face of the Drakensberg in front of you, it is advisable to stop regularly for those pictures you want to shoot, or you are likely to leave the winding road.
On arrival at Goodersons Drakensberg, I am warmly greeted at the gate and reception, where a map is handed to me with directions to my room and the multitude of activities available. I decide to get settled in before I go explore and locate where dinner will be from.
The resort is reminiscent of family resorts I remember growing up. It is a place where there is something for everyone to relax in the way they enjoy most. It is a place where parents can allow their young charges to wander and play while they pursue their version of entertainment and relaxation.
Children’s laughter travels on the breeze even as they enjoy putt-putt and the tennis courts. I decide to watch the clouds pretending to be smoke signals above the horizon as the sky is painted in pink and the sun dips behind the peaks.
Your choice of sleeping
Goodersons Drakensberg has a few different types of accommodation so you can choose what you are comfortable with.
The Hotel has a variety of 2 and 4 sleeper rooms, as well as family rooms. These are available as a standard or superior room.
Self Catering Chalets
There are 8 Self Catering chalets in 4 and 6 sleepers.
There are 4 and 6 sleepers Timeshare units with views of the golf course and mountains.
The rooms are comfortable, decorated in wood and neutral tones which create a calm and restful atmosphere. The bed provided me with a good, solid nights rest and even a bit of a doze during a Super 15 rugby game (sorry Sharks, I promise it wasn’t on purpose).
I frequented my small semi-private porch with views of the Rhino peak and escarpment on display. It made for a comfortable spot to have a cup of coffee while watching the light play across the scenery as the sun slipped behind the peaks. Also I had fun watching the starlings hop on and off the reed dividers separating the rooms.
For the Foodies
Meal times are quite special. There are 5 restaurants and 2 bars you could choose from to visit. Booking is essential for the restaurants for all meals. You don’t want to find yourself not having a seat because you forgot to book (a lesson I learnt quickly). Wildcat and Trout and Buck bars have different specials depending on what day of the week you are on, as well as activities such as Kareoke, dancing or you could enjoy pool on two full size tables.
Eagles Roost Restaurant is the biggest restaurant of the five. I had both dinner and breakfasts here. The food in the evening was carvery style with roasts and all the yummy vegetable sides you could hope for. This was accompanied by mouth-wateringly tasty roast potatoes and wellingtons. There was also a variety of salads and cheeses to choose from. These can all be paired with lovely red wine (or adult beverage of your choosing) and good conversation. This combination made sure that my evening was satisfyingly whiled away with a comfortable ambience.
Bergview Restaurant is a smaller more private space with only 20 people at a time being able to have dinner here. Expect low lighting, superbly prepared food and more intimate space.
Vinenot is a family orientated restaurant providing tasty pizzas, burgers and unusual decor. It has a slightly Italian feel and is also rarely quiet around mealtimes. The Bistro will keep you in cappuccinos and light meals during the day; as will the Fairways Golf course restaurant when you come in from a hike or a round of golf. They also have a bar to celebrate that almost hole in one you managed to get.
So what is there to do?
So much. I think the best way to look at this is to pick your favourite things and punctuate it with relaxation. I personally enjoyed the hikes, spa and horse riding immensely. But I also managed to take time to listen to the river running, watch the eland grazing on the ridge above the resort and golf course, contemplate the mist moving through the valley and watch the first rays of the day hit the peaks and then spill into the valley below colouring everything in its path in warm orange light. I think that you can find a great balance here at Goodersons Drakensberg.
For the Big People
There is, in no particular order: Horse riding, pool, bars, bowls, swimming, hiking, zip lining, elevated bird walk, golf, tennis, squash, putt putt, spa, heated pools and of course, the gym.
For the Smaller People
There is: The adventure course, zip lining, swimming, discovery park (petting zoo), led horse rides, arcade, movie room, outdoor chess, trampolines, putt putt, water slides, tennis and badminton.
My favourite thing
There are three routes that you can hike. At the time, I just wanted a view. So I hiked from Fairways along the dam wall and straight up the ridge. Needless to say, my lungs took a little bit of a knock before I got to the top. But there was a more sedate route around the ridge. Once I got to the top I had two spectacular views. One down across the dam and golf course down the valley and over the resort. The other, out towards the escarpment and Rhino peak. One view would have been utterly worth it. But two, just priceless! So this, along with the rather puzzled-looking lone Eland, was the highlight of my trip.
Will everyone love Goodersons Drakensberg? I suppose that is entirely up to what you enjoy. I think that it is clearly a comfortable place with a bit of something for everyone. It is just this that has you enjoying each day more and more and kind of wishing you could press the pause button on time for a while.
Families are going to be super pleased with allowing their young ones to run around breathing in great gulps of fresh air while entertaining themselves. All the while the adults have their own form of relaxation without the pressures of worrying about the kids.
You can either fill your days with entertainment and delicious dining, or relax and recline to recoup.
To me that sounds like a total winner!
So in conclusion… Yes, I think everyone will love a few days at Gooderson Drakensberg.
Please note that this was a sponsored stay. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.