Super User

Super User

Berghouse and Cottages is situated a short drive from Bergville off the R74 heading towards Royal Natal National Park. Co-ordinates: S28.373'14" E29.035'37”. Here’s a link to the venue - https://www.sa-venues.com/visit/berghouseandcottages/ From a butterfly perspective there are plenty of trails through the grasslands and along the uThukela River. The prime spot is the ridge overlooking the accommodation (a brisk 15-minute walk) where hilltopping by many species was seen. Rainfall had been erratic up to the visit and the flowers had not reached their full potential, and the 3 dams on the property were very low, about 2-3m below the highwater line. However, these were rich in numbers of various dragonflies and damselflies. Here is a Google Map overview of the property. Red arrows indicate dams, and the ridge is outlined in red:

Google Maps Berghouse Cottages

Daily walks were conducted each day, the target insects were photographed and entered on the Animal Demography Unit (ADU, or Virtual Museum) for confirmation of ID. The weather throughout was hot and dry (max. 36C), and best sightings were early to mid-morning, and late afternoon.

1. Dragonflies and damselflies

9 species were recorded, two of which – the Blue Emperor and the Sapphire Bluet – had previously not been recorded on the ADU from the area. Most were photographed around the small dam below the rock pool. Note the low water level:

 

The uThukela River – on the Otter Trail; good Dropwing (and yellowfish) territory!

2. Butterflies and moths

The grasslands on and around the farm were a rich haven for many species of butterflies and daytime-flying moths. Most moths did not have positive IDs and are not included.3 Here are some of the habitats where butterflies occurred:

Views of the hilltop overlooking the accommodation

Butterflies & Moths

An assortment of small, unidentified daytime-flying moths was also observed

A wide variety of plants was in flower, and some of those popular with butterflies for nectaring, or merely on which to settle, can be seen below

The visit was too short, and I look forward to spending more time at this delightful venue.

Saturday, 26 September 2020 20:40

Royal Natal National Park

Royal Natal National Park

A Unesco World Heritage site, renowned for its spectacular scenery and famous mountain trails. Named the Royal Natal National Park after the visit by the British Royal family during a State visit in 1947, earning the right to be called Royal Natal National Park.
Princess Elizabeth(now the Queen) celebrated her 21st birthday during their visit. A bridge was specially built for the Queen, called the Queen's Causeway, this can be seen on the trail to the Cascades.

The hotel no longer exists, due to neglect by the new Government.
The main feature of this nature reserve in South Africa is the world-famous Drakensberg Amphitheater, a rock wall 5km long. This spectacular cliff face hosts the highest waterfall in Africa and the second highest waterfall on the Planet. This waterfall can be clearly seen from the Berghouse and Cottages windows in the summertime, especially after a good shower of rain on the mountain top.

The source of the famous rivers, the Tugela River that flows into the Indian Ocean as well as the Orange River that flows 2000 kilometers approximately to the Atlantic Ocean, this part of the Drakensberg is fondly referred to as the Continental divide, for that very reason.
Hiking in the park is very popular, here we will feature 2 trails to hike, the Gorge trail and the Sentinel trail via the chain ladders to the famous Tugela falls.

The Gorge trail is approximately 7.5 km long, one way. The Gorge is absolutely spectacular, steep cliffs either side of the Tugela River, carved by the flow of water from time immemorial. Lovely rockpools to swim in, awesome idea is to take along a picnic to enjoy after the long walk. Look out for the Bearded vulture (Lamergeyer) and the Black Eagle along the way. Many species of birds can be spotted along the way as well as antelope and baboons.
Be sure to sign the Mountain register at the visitors center in the park, prior to your hike and then again on your return.

The Tugela falls hike takes you to the top of the Amphitheater mountain via the Sentinel car park and chain ladders. You will feel like you've reached the "Roof of Africa" you will almost be in another country called Lesotho.

A moderate to difficult accent to the top, remember to carry extra clothing, food, and water, as you will reach the top of the mountain 3000m above sea level. Conditions can change rapidly, you could experience 4 seasons in a day!

The trail leaves the Sentinel car park which is approximately 1.5 hours by road from the Berghouse and Cottages. Sign the mountain register on arrival and departure, very important! Take the trail to the chain ladders and summit continue all the way to the waterfall by following the path adjacent to the river, approximately 2.5 km from the ladders. Take a swim(weather permitting) in the "jacuzzi" a pothole 20m from the edge of the cliff and waterfall in the Tugela river! Walk for approximately 250m away from the waterfall to capture the waterfall by the camera.

Guides may be arranged in advance of your visit.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020 17:21

Thula 2 (No:9)

Thula 2 (No:9)

Thula2 Cottage is a spacious, open plan cottage with a Kingsize bed en suite heated bathroom, his and her shower. Cottage views of the Drakensberg mountains are unsurpassed.

• Amphitheater mountain views from the bedroom windows.
• Logfire place provided, patio fully furnished.
• Half-board offered, kitchenette provides a fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle, no stove..

"Northern Drakensberg Getaway"

Tuesday, 04 February 2020 10:25

Rates 2021

Berghouse & Cottages 2021

Rates are based on per person per night rate.
Minimum rates apply to the cottages over peak season and long weekends.

Thamela Cottage (No:1)

Self-catering R575 pppn
Bed and Breakfast R750 pppn
Dinner Bed and Breakfast R990 pppn
Min rate in the peak season and long weekends R4600 per night (self-catering)

Thunzi Cottage (No:2)

Bed and Breakfast R750pppn
Dinner Bed and Breakfast R990pppn

Thokomala Cottage (No:3)

Self-catering R575 pppn
Bed and Breakfast R750pppn
Dinner Bed and Breakfast R990pppn

Thula Thula (Cot:4)

Dinner Bed and Breakfast R1175 pppn

Thandanani (Cot:5)

Bed and Breakfast R750pppn
Dinner Bed and Breakfast R990pppn

Thokozela Cottage (No:6)

Self-catering R575 pppn
Bed and Breakfast R750pppn
Dinner Bed and Breakfast R990pppn

Phinda Cottage (No:7)

Bed and Breakfast R750pppn
Dinner Bed and Breakfast R990pppn

Phezulu Cottage (No:8)

Self-catering R755pppn
Bed and Breakfast R935pppn
Dinner Bed and Breakfast R1175pppn

Thula 2 Cottage(No:9)

Dinner Bed and Breakfast R1175 pppn

Single person rates:

Thunzi Cottage (No:2)

Bed and Breakfast R895pppn
Dinner Bed & Breakfast R1135pppn

Thula Thula (Cot:4)

Half-Board option (DB&B) R1320pppn

Thandanani (Cot:5)

Self-catering R745pppn
Bed and Breakfast R895pppn
Dinner Bed & Breakfast R1135pppn

Thokozela Cottage (No:6)

Bed and Breakfast R895pppn
Dinner Bed & Breakfast R1135pppn

Phinda Cottage (No:7)

Bed and Breakfast R895pppn
Dinner Bed & Breakfast R1135pppn

Phezulu Cottage (No:8)

Self-Catering R 900pppn
B&B R1080pppn
DB&B R1320pppn

Children from 3 to 11 years old

DB&B R560pppn
B&B R360pppn
Self-Catering R300pppn

Tour Operators and Agents should contact management directly regarding a rates quote.

Thursday, 02 May 2019 14:08

The Berghouse and Cottages

The Berghouse and Cottages  “a little mountain paradise”

After a four year lease, the property was purchased in 1996 as a cattle ranch. The property had been neglected for many years, the surrounding gardens were overgrown with grass approximately two meters tall in places.

The access road “driveway” was from the North off the R74, a goat track of a driveway that was quickly mended. Thereafter, an easy drive of approximately 2 kilometers made a beautiful approach to the homestead. Unfortunately, this crossed over a neighbor’s property who decided to block the use of the access.

The new gravel driveway winds itself up a175m vertical climb over a distance of approximately 3 kilometers, the views from the driveway are breath-taking, as the full panorama of the entire Central and Northern Drakensberg may be seen from here.

The site of the “Berg-House” was discovered after the farmer had watched where the oxen sought refuge during high winds and inclement, cold weather.

During this due diligence, water was discovered by way of a spring on the side of the hill above this location which made it a perfect site. The original owners of the property had terraced, with sandstone blocks, the gardens around the house, due to the hilly nature of the topography.

Due to ongoing cattle theft, the decision was made to convert the property into a holiday letting business for guests needing to “get away from it all”Berghouse a piece of heavan

This was an instant success as the tranquillity, scenery and wilderness worked its magic. Some wish they could bottle all three ingredients and take them home with them, others say that the “silence screams at them”

The “wraparound” views of the mountains that include the Amphitheatre Mountain, and the Tugela waterfall, the highest in Africa, (second highest in the World can be seen in the summertime with the naked eye from the cottages) the Central and Northern Drakensberg as well as the Maloti mountains in Lesotho.

One of the cottages was developed from a sandstone barn, the old vice left in situ bares testimony to this, and a 4 bedroom cottage was developed. We had to scout around Lesotho to find someone that could “dress” stone and use this stone for the development.

With teamwork from my wife, we developed “home away from home” country cottages with Italian and French flare. This boded exceptionally well given the mountainous surroundings while “touching the earth gently” causing the very least footprint possible.

During this time the habitat had returned to its original state, wildlife has returned in numbers including Leopard, Serval, African Wild Cat, Genet, Mongoose, Porcupine, Chameleon, Tortoise, Antelope, including the Eland, 190 counted in a single herd! As well as many species of birds that include the Ground Hornbill and Secretary birds.

Trails were established, these followed the trails left behind by the Eland and other antelope. Mountain biking, hiking, trail running are some of the activities that are performed on a daily basis.

With the Tugela River bordering the South East side of this property, fly-fishing is a very popular activity in the summertime, Otter frolic in the water as they chase fish at times, one needs to be very quiet and patient to witness this.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 09:41

Experience The Magnificent Eland Trail

Experience The Magnificent Eland Trail

A trail named after the famous Drakensberg Eland was named the "Eland Trail" as it is a common occurrence to see Eland whilst hiking on this trail. This is an easy 3 km trail from start to finish.

Check out all the other species of Flora and Fauna. Wildflowers are truly spectacular and if you have forgotten to pack a book on the Wildflowers of the Drakensberg, enquire at the reception for one. Wildflowers occur mostly during early summer through to late summer.

Herds of Eland are often seen and as many as 190 have been seen in one herd. Interesting to watch the herd dynamic as the Eland cows graze/browse they leave their calves behind, one could describe it this activity as being similar to a nursery with 2 to 3 sentries watching over them, the calves sleep in the grass as the mother catch up on filling their stomachs with grass and leaves, returning every few hours to feed their calves.

Should the herd be startled the mothers rush back to protect their little ones and then they all charge off into the hidden valleys.

An interesting observation is to note how well the Eland is able to blend into the landscape and look like large boulders of sandstone rock that occur in the hills and mountains of the Drakensberg. It is only when these animals move do you notice them on the hillside.

The herds of Eland are never in one place for too long, moving away and using the topography to hide from human interaction. This continuous movement is a form of rotational grazing/browsing, the vegetation is then able to restore and continue growing.

The bulls may be identified by their sheer bulk as well as by their dark coloration over the chest and shoulder area, as well as by their huge muscular necks and massive horns.The Eland Antelope are the biggest antelope in Africa.

A short story of an Eland Bull called "Snack"

For many years Chantal my wife had wanted a little buck in the garden. One early morning before sunrise I heard a sound outside our bedroom window. I got up to see what it was, I reached for my torch and there it was, a Massive Eland Bull lying outside our house.

I quickly woke Chantal who didn't hesitate to get up from a deep sleep to see her "little buck" that I had found. We made our way to the window, as we got there I switched the torch on, to Chantal surprise" her little buck" was actually a fully grown Eland Bull.

Snack lived in our garden for 6 weeks. He loved our oranges, unfortunately, he loved the oranges so much that he began breaking the higher branches to reach the higher fruit. We had to dart him and transfer him to a private game reserve in the area.

I recall the event vividly, Chantal had notified the cottages that a lorry would arrive to load Snack as he slept and that there would be much singing going on as the gang of Zulus would chant as they strained under the heavy load.

Unfortunately, one of the cottages hadn't been informed of this exercise,  as the Eland was loaded and 15 Zulus chanted under the strain a guest came running along to the reception to inform Chantal that there was an Impy(Zulu war party) coming up the road and we should alarm the police... too much laughter and apologies the event was explained to our concerned guest. Snack has adapted well and is Kingpin bull on the Game Farm.

 

Experience the Drakensberg, Country Style!

Holiday accommodation drakensbergExperience an invigorating mountain atmosphere with outstanding Drakensberg views from the windows of your cottage.
This private destination is situated high up in the Northern Drakensberg foothills on a 1600 acre estate.


Restore the essential you! As you soak up the 270-degree views of the gnarly, ancient and ragged Drakensberg Escarpment.
Our prized feature is that of the World famous and iconic Amphitheatre Mountain.


You may be lucky to experience the views of the highest waterfall in Africa and the second highest waterfall in the world, only during the summertime after a storm on top of the mountains.
Enjoy the exquisite sunsets from an amazing viewpoint, as you sit feet up, wine glass in hand.

From this property you will also be treated with views of the Central Drakensberg all the way to the Cathkin Park and Monks Cowl peaks, as well as Champagne Castle, described as nothing less than spectacular.
The famous Amphitheatre mountain, home to the highest waterfall in Africa and second highest on the planet is a spectacle not to be missed. Clear views of the waterfall may be seen from the Berghouse and Cottages during the rainy season, in the summertime, that occurs from November to March. The water drops down from the Escarpment lip 947m below in 4 steps before reaching the valley floor below.


Royal Natal National Park can be found beneath this massive mountain feature. The well-known Gorge walk can be accessed from the park, this 7.5 kilometre hike along a well maintained path will deliver you to the Gorge, you will be in awe at the magnificent cliffs of the Gorge, as well as the massive rock wedged between the two cliffs that make up this Gorge. If you cross the stream and walk for approximately 60m you will find a view point that looks directly onto the waterfall. Be sure to take a camera with you and don’t forget to pick up a map at the visitors centre, on the maps you will find the names of the different peaks as well as a description of the shorter hikes in the park.


Wildlife occurs in this UNESCO World Heritage site, to name a few,  Eland(Large antelope) Bushbuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Duiker, Grey Rhebuck, Common Reedbuck as well as Chocma baboons to name a few species. While on your hike look out for the Veroux Eagle as well as Cape Vulture and if you are lucky, the very rare Bearded vulture soaring up above. Lots of other species of birds occur, bird lovers, and remember to bring your bird books and binoculars.


The Berghouse and Cottages is conveniently situated from an access to other areas of interest, being within an hour drive from a Big 5 game reserve, Eastern Freestate namely Clarens, the Golden Gate National Park and Central Drakensberg.

The hike up to the top of the Amphitheatre Mountain via the Sentinel car park and chain-ladders is a box to tick that is on a par with seeing the big 5 in Africa, this route can be easily accessed from the Berghouse and Cottages. The 1.5 hour drive, a 2.5 hour hike to the waterfall, an 8 hour round trip back to the Berghouse and Cottages has been enjoyed by many hikers on many occasions from all over the World.

Monday, 09 July 2018 16:26

Drakensberg Secretary Bird Facts

Secretary birds0Drakensberg Secretary Bird Facts

Some interesting facts about our resident Secretary birds, a.k.a Sagittaruis Serpentarius, They have long legs, large wing span with a long tail. The bird gets its name from its crest of long feathers that look like the quill pens used in the 19th century.

They have black on the wings, thighs and tail feathers, mostly dove-grey in colour. These birds have a large curved bill with bare orange and yellow skin near the beak. The long legs are feathered half way and have the appearance of wearing short pants. The tail feathers are very long. When the bird is standing they can reach a height of approximately 1meter.

Their most distinctive feature is the black crest of feathers that is often described as the old fashioned quill pens. They also have very long eyelashes and large eyes with excellent eyesight, spotting prey from high up in the thermals.
Secretary birds consume snakes, reptiles, insects and other small mammals such as rats and mice.

These birds are mostly terrestrial, taking flight when approached or when in danger, remember to approach quietly using as much cover to hide away to get as close as possible. Usually, this pair will not take fright if you stay in your car, a fair distance away.
They can cover distances of an excess of 15km’s per day. When hunting and they spot their prey, they look like birds in “ballet” as they dance, spreading their wings at the same time offering strong blows to their victim, especially snakes.

They beat their prey with their toes; once the prey has been sufficiently debilitated they tear their victims apart, swallowing large pieces at a time. Secretary birds pair for life. These birds can be heard high up in the thermals, and sound like a deep grunt or hoot.
This pair has bred a chick twice in 6 years.

Drakensberg winterChanging Season for the Drakensberg

Autumn meets Winter with an amazing contrast of colours splashed throughout the landscape of hills and mountains. Birds and bees move swiftly through the vegetation, gathering enough food for the long winter ahead. Antelope are seen sunning themselves late into the afternoons on the Northern slopes, soaking up the warmth before the sunsets in the afternoon.

The skies turn into a crimson canvas, colour splashed across the skies, then suddenly the colours fade, grey turns to a solemn darkness and the black of night. Tranquility, unmatched, the stars brighten up the Universe and the mountain silhouettes, Nightjars sing and Owls hoot, "the sounds of silence".
 
Country cottages tucked into the countryside, overlooking the Northern Drakensberg mountains, hidden among the trees and shrubs, warm light emanating from the windows, plumes of smoke from the chimneys as the log fires keep our guests warm as they prepare for a cold autumn winter evening playing games around a table while sipping a glass of their favorite beverage. Peaceful beyond words.

Early morning mist fills the valleys reflecting the rising sun, birds and bees busy themselves in the trees, warm light floods over the landscapes, a sharp bark from a distant baboon meets the day. 

Thursday, 14 June 2018 13:23

Beghouse Rock Pool

The Berghouse and Cottages | Rock Pool

Designed and built with the help of a landscape artist, many sandbags were used to help shape the rocks, then 4 tons of steel crisscross the entire swimming pool, 500 pockets of cement mix packed carefully into the steel re-enforcing created a robust structure to withstand the weight of 130-kiloliters of water.The rock pool was built to enhance the landscape and emulate the rocks and boulders that occur on the mountainside beside the pool.

The artist cleverly mixed colours into the cement, including simulating mineral deposits that occur naturally in the mountain pools in the Drakensberg mountains. We planned an infinity concept where the pool overflows from a waterfall and cascade, water flows over the rim and then recycles over the waterfall and cascades again.

Views of the Mighty Amphitheater mountain, as well as the full panorama of Spires across the entire Northern Drakensberg and Maloti mountains, are simply breathtaking!The pool has been designed in such a way that parents can keep a watchful eye on their children swimming, the rule for the use of this facility is strict that children of all ages are supervised by their parents. Strictly no glass is allowed into the pool.No children are allowed on the wall of the infinity.The site chosen to place the pool is away from the cottages and fairly well sheltered from the prevailing Northerly winds.

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