The Antbear overlooks the Bushman's river, which rises in the high Drakensberg near Giants castle and meets the Tugela north east of the small town of Weenen. It flows through one of those places on earth where the drama of human events seems to be etched forever into the landscape. In the south the huge mountains form the backdrop to this gigantic natural stage and down on the plain bisected by rivers and studded by thorn trees, the red tinge of grass still seems to hint at the bloody battles that were fought here. It is an area of huge vistas, a myriad of vantage points where the landscape rolls out for as far as the imagination.
Wagondrift dam and Moor park (8km from the Antbear) are two small conservation service nature reserves where bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, black wildebeest, zebra and impala abound. Moor Park is renowned for its bird life including a pair of nesting black eagles. A major feature of the park is the old Boer furrow trail which visitors can follow.
Kamberg (35km from the Antbear) has inspired many a dedicated fisherman to rise before dawn, get to out in the foothills of the Drakensberg and bag his trout. For anglers interested in not only catching trout, but also learning about their lifecycle, Kamberg is a special treat. The hatchery is right here and visitors are welcome. For those of us not so interested in fishing follow the 5km trail passed the waterfall and chance upon the most exquisite examples of San rock art that can be seen anywhere.
Giants Castle (35km from the Antbear) with its splendid mountain scenery and towering escarpment is a mecca for those who love strenuous hiking trails, as well as those who prefer a leisurely stroll along the contour path to experience the peace and silence of the wilderness. This reserve is famous for its caves and shelters are rich in San rock art. Another popular attraction is the Lammergeyer hide where Lammergeyers (an endangered bird of prey) and Cape Vultures can be viewed feeding.
The Weenen Game Reserve (40km from the Antbear) is one of those rare safari places without malaria. At a relatively modest 5000 hectares Weenen is not like a large game reserve but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in variety. There are views where the waving grasslands dotted with flat-topped acacias resemble a miniature Serengeti, complete with modest assemblages of zebra, giraffe and rhino. Other areas, cleft by deep gorges are thickly forested. In the south an escarpment looks down on to the Bushman's river meandering in its deep secluded valley and on the plateau beyond stretches the reserve's wilderness area which is only accessible by foot. Weenen Game Reserve also boasts the highest density of rhino per square kilometer in South Africa.
Join "Sengani Horse Trails" for a horse safari (45 km from the Antbear) in the pristine KZN bushveld at Mtontwana Game Reserve. This bushveld area is malaria free too. These professionally guided trails take you within meters of towering giraffe and snorting wildebeest. This is an activity that novices can also partake in and something that that seems to make folks come back time and time again. There are also options for a sundowner ride and day tips for more experienced riders.
White water rafting is available on the Tugela River. (45 km from the Antbear) Half day and full day tours and even horse ride rafting combinations are on offer. Or a tamer option is the canoe safari down the Weenen Canal. The canal starts at the Bushmans River, passes through the Weenen Game Reserve, over an old brick aqueduct and then through picturesque farmland. All rafting and canal safaris are accompanied by qualified guides.
The Spieonkop game reserve (60 km from the Antbear), through its small size, allows for excellent game viewing throughout the year. This is also one of the most interesting battle sights of the Anglo Boer War. The nature reserve surrounds the Spieonkop Dam which reflects a completely different kind of safari feeling
The Midlands craft meander starts just 15 km from the Antbear. The old world charm and tranquil countryside has attracted a new breed of people who have taken residence among the farmers. These are creative crafters, sculptures, potters, weavers and leather workers who ply their trade in quaint old cottages and farmhouses and welcome the curious. The Midlands is dotted with cozy country inns just perfect for unhurried lunches or just tea and home made jam scones.
The Howick falls (80 km from the Antbear) makes a worth while day trip. The waterfall falls some 90 m and the little trail down into the gorge is wonderful. On the way back why not stop at La Lampara the most excellent Italian restaurant in our region.
The Amphitheater, Oliviershoek pass and the Sterkfontein dam make a lovely drive in the northern part of the Drakensberg. For the more adventurous a visit to the top of the Drakensberg is essential. The 2½ hour trail to the top of the escarpment takes you to the edge of the Tugela falls, the second highest waterfall in the world. It falls some 950m and in Winter has been known to freeze solid. The last leg of the trail involves the climbing of a chain ladder to get to the top. For those without a head for heights the drive to the start of the trail is one of the most beautiful roads that one could imagine.
The Battlefields. It is difficult to imagine that the scenic and tranquil landscape of central and northern KwaZulu-Natal was once the focal point of major military clashes; where over a span of 70 years, one historical drama after another unfolded against the backdrop of the African veld and the Majestic Drakensberg mountains. The area boasts the largest concentration of battlefields in South Africa. But don't let the description battlefields mislead you into thinking you are going to spend time in the past. The climate, the scenery, the cultural diversity, the cuisine and the hospitality makes your visit a unique and memorable experience.
Situated in the tranquil Natal Midlands, the Karkloof Canopy Tour offers an unequalled experience gliding along steel cables between eight canopy level platforms built high within the Karkloof forest. Safely harnessed in state of the art climbing gear and under close supervision of a professional team of guides, prepare yourself for a three hour adventure that will take you amongst the birds, monkeys trees and plants of this magnificent forest. The slides are up to 175m long and provide unforgettable rides and spectacular views of the forest canopy including a little waterfall.
The Southern Drakensberg is as easily reached from the Antbear as the Northern part. Why not go on a day trip to the Sani Pass, if you have a 4x4 then it makes for wonderful driving. The back roads hug the berg and the lack of other vehicles along this way is almost suspicious.
A number of golf courses can be found in the area, both 9 and 18 holes.
Estcourt is the main metropolis here but don't expect too much. Fort Durnford is worth a quick visit if you're driving past, it includes the outdoor museum of a traditional Zulu village. If you would like to experience a glider flight over our beautiful area, then this can be arranged at the Estcourt Aero Club on weekends.
Whichever way you decide to explore our area your journey will pass through some of the most inspiring landscape and wildlife areas in South Africa.
Specifics and costs of activities in the Drakensberg and Natal Midlands
The Antbear Guesthouse