Champagne Castle Hotel

Much of our honeymoon anticipation and excitement, at least form my side, was focussed on how Lena would enjoy the places that I have taken her to. South Africa is so beautiful and diverse, and I was really looking forward to showing her around. However, the one place that I was most looking forward to visiting for my own sake was the Drakensberg. The Dragons Mountains, this is the area which separates the costal plains that have risen up slowly to a height of around 1200-1500 metres above sea level, and suddenly take a step up to well over 3000 metres. There are stunning views, fantastic walking, climbing and hiking.

As a teenager and into my early 20’s, I did a lot of hiking in the area with my Dad and Dave (best friend from school), as well as spending some wonderful family holidays at one of the longest established hotels in the region, the Champagne Castle hotel. The views from the hotel are spectacular, and it serves as a base for lots of activities. Many are the hikes and climbs that Dave, Dad and I returned from, to sit on the verandah at the hotel, have a cold beer, and look back to the peaks that we had come from.

Easy rider

We awoke to a clearing day, and started to get glimpses of the big mountains. After breakfast, we went on a beginners horse ride. There was a guide, plus us two, and we had a lovely and gentle horse ride through the area for an hour. I managed not to fall off once, which was quite good.

After our ride, we packed up our sandwiches that the hotel had made for us (along with various bits of fruit and snacks), and headed out for a walk. The path away from the hotel towards the mountains climbs the small berg, which rises about 600 metres, and is quite steep in places, but offers spectacular views.

Lena at Crystal falls
Lena at Crystal falls

Somehow, I am not as fit as I imagined, but we managed to walk a fair distance, stopping at the various streams to drink the beautiful water. At Crystal falls we dipped in the water too – it was very refreshing. We got as far as the sphinx, a rock that does look quite lot like the Egyptian Sphinx’s head. We climbed on top, and ate our lunch, gazing at the mountains around us.

After lunch, we headed back down to the hotel, and I had a beer while Lena swam. The hotel has a buffet dinner, after which we played a game of Table Tennis, and then retired for the night.

Sphinx
Sphinx
Picnic lunch and views
Picnic lunch and views

 

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