TRAVEL SA Tourism kicked off World Tourism Month with an adventurous getaway in the jaw-dropping Drakensberg to stimulate tourism. Phumlani S Langa takes in its beauty.
SA Tourism got its World Tourism Month campaign off to a great start with a media getaway in the beautiful Drakensberg for an adventure-packed weekend at this World Heritage Site. We convened at OR Tambo International Airport, where a bus took us to our final destination.
They provided a packed lunch, which oddly included a hard-boiled egg, something I thought would eventually turn out to be rather odious. Of course, before we’d even left Joburg someone busted one of those bad boys open.
After a brief stop at the one-horse ghost town Harrismith, which I recommend you explore, we rolled up in the Berg.
DAY 1: GATE-CRASHING
We arrive at what I thought was the Alpine Health Resort but after locating the tavern at this mountain lodge I realise it can’t be health, and it isn’t, it’s the Alpine Heath Resort.
Smoking after dinner, a high school girl at the matric dance afterparty happening in one of the ballrooms asks me for a gwaai while ducking glances from her principal. Adorable.
This was all before getting settled at our chalets. I was bundled with two individuals I hadn’t met before – one was a sister and so she got the en suite, leaving me and another brother to share.
DAY 2: MR MUSTANG ANDTHE GHETTO BLASTER
We’re awakened quite early and taken over to the Drakensberg Sun Resort, a much nicer hotel than the one we were put up in.
Our first adventure stop is Dragon Peaks for a spot of paintball, canopy tours and scooter rides.
This was lovely and your boy was on the winning paintball team, twice.
Soon after taking off our armour and fatigues it was time to attend a boring speech by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube, who explained government’s plan to further stimulate domestic and international tourism. If you want to sell your province to me, why don’t you don an overall and face mask and play some paintball with us?
But things picked up when the party headed to the Drakensberg Brewery for a taste of Pure Mountain Brew craft beer.
I’m not a fan of beer, but after being deprived of real alcohol for the whole day I even helped out those who don’t mess with the beverage at all by finishing theirs.
Right after this we head to the Drakensberg Peak Wine Estate, where the sommelier unveiled a selection of robust Drakensberg Pinotage. I knew it was time to leave the country manor-styled winery when homie said something about gin being leftover wine.
For dinner we headed over to The Grill, a new eatery where we’re split into two groups because they seem overwhelmed by the size of our group – with some waiting for about two hours to eat.
I walked out to the parking lot outside and coming back with a large ghetto blaster with lights. We got to partying in the new restaurant, which looks a bit like an old chapel, so much so that the bus left me behind.
Fortunately, the owner of the ghetto blaster owns a red Mustang with black rally stripes and he gives us a ride back to the Alpine. The red machine growls and hugs the road tightly as it tears a hole through the dense silence of the Drakensberg night.
DAY 3: FREE-FALLING
The best day of this trip by far...
We start early and head to All Out Adventures, where we all get the chance to do some zip lining, trapeze and experience the jarring thrill of free-fall on the King Swing, which is done from a platform at least 80m up.
They strap you into two harnesses and then push you off a bridge. The first five seconds feel like you are not attached to anything and, honestly, it was the most intense adrenalin rush I have ever experienced. I did it twice.