There has to be something said about taking time off to spend quality time in the mountains, far removed from the day to day pressures, routine and responsibilities and just ‘be’ a family… enjoy each other’s company, listening to your children’s laughter, splashing around the pool, get a good dose of vitamin C, indulge in delicious food and just enjoy the amazing hospitality we have on offer, on our doorstep here in our province.
At the end of January we enjoyed four days, three nights away in celebration of Brett’s birthday at The Cavern, nestled in the foothills of the Northern Drakensberg in the Amphitheatre World Heritage Site area. And this gem of a spot truly lives up to its description of being a place of captivating beauty that is surrounded by majestic mountains, lush indigenous forests and clear ‘berg streams.
Situated just three hours from Durban, three-and-a-half from Johannesburg, The Carven is a beautiful country drive to the most magnificent scenery that is the comfortable home-from-home for families that it is well-known to be.
It was our first time visiting the family owned family resort that prides itself on being the resort of many happy returns and I can totally see why so many locals return year after year and have the fondest memories of their time being hosted at The Cavern.
From the incredibly attentive staff who became friends to the delectable meal after meal, to how well the kids are looked after, the dreamy pool area, the scenery, the variety of activities and hikes and the comfortable accommodation… we honestly had the most incredible time at The Cavern!
We were lucky enough to be hosted in one of The Cavern’s superior family suites that consists of two bedrooms and a lounge. The master bedroom has a king size double bed with en suite BIIIIIG bath and shower – honestly an incredible bathroom! The second loft bedroom had two sets of twin beds with an en suite bathroom including a shower. The unit was incredibly comfortable with tea and coffee making facilities, a TV, bar fridge, fireplace and outside private patio – such a treat! Our patio was kitted with an outdoor table and chairs and overlooked the majestic mountains and the nearby waterfall could be heard along with the birds… the perfect place to soak up the sun, listen to the forest streams and rejuvenate in peace of the exquisite mountain wilderness… pure bliss!
The suite is a short drive / walk from the main reception area / restaurant and pool etc. which was lovely for us as a family as it felt like we had our very own piece of The Cavern away from all the excitement.
The Cavern truly offers an activity for everyone! From two guided hikes per day, plenty of trails to follow, fly fishing and horse trails for the experienced and for the ‘not-so-sure’. If you’re keen on mountain biking or hiking – The Cavern’s trails will keep you busy for days!
If you prefer taking it easy with your small kids – like us – we spent most of our time at the pool relaxing with the girls. The pool is kitted with two awesome slides for the kids – one that leads into the main pool and another that leads down into sprinklers into a smaller body of water. There’s also a splash pool suitable for toddlers fitted with a fountain which Charlie absolutely loved! The pool was an absolute highlight for us!
For those up for a challenge, there’s tennis, lawn bowls and a pile of board games, such as Scrabble, chess or backgammon in anyone of the relaxing lounges on the property.
The Cavern caters amazingly for children too!
A few of the top activities for Cavern Crusaders to enjoy in the great outdoors include;
Hiking passports – there are many shorter walks ideal for families and backpacks for carrying younger children are available for hire at reception. There are a variety of child-friendly walks and there are a few short climbs and guides carry along crunchies and juices for the kids to enjoy at the destinations. They also love helping collect firewood along the way!
Pony rides – these happen each morning and afternoon – a highlight for Maddie who also loved visiting the horses stables on the property!
Croquet, a jungle gym & trampoline at the Tennis Courts – there’s also two beautifully equipped outdoor playgrounds on the property for the kids to enjoy, push bikes on the tennis court and an old tractor to play play ride on.
Kiddies nail treatment – something special for the girls to enjoy… some pretty nail painting at the Forest Retreat Spa.
Picnic at the Natural Pool or Cowslip Falls Dam – you can order a packed lunch and take a short walk to enjoy the scenery, splash in the water, look for crabs, racing wooden ‘boats’ and enjoy a sandwich, fruit, cheese and biscuits and a juice in the shade before returning home.
Canoeing on Darter Dam – Oars and life jackets are available to make use of and set sail on the water.
Afternoon activities – there are activities at 3pm from Monday to Saturday at the playroom for an hour of fun! Children are kept amused by creating their own pet rock, building jelly-tot structures or racing around about on a scavenger hunt or enjoying a nature challenge. During our stay on one of the afternoons the team set out a slip and slide for the kids to enjoy on the lawns – which was an absolute hit!
The Nature Trail – there are information boards explaining interesting facts about the birds and plants found at The Cavern.
Face painting – Every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon kids can get their faces painted outside the playroom.
A highlight for Brett and I was the kids playroom during meal times particularly as well as during our stay, because of the incredible nannies who are trained to look after little ones during the adult meal times. The children’s meals are served in the playroom which is fully kitted with tables and chairs for the kids, high chairs for the babies and a buffet to dish and serve the kids. It was an absolute treat to be able to sit and enjoy ‘adult time’ at every meal and know that our girls were taken care of in The Playroom, and when they weren’t keen to be away from us (particularly Charlie) it was fine for her to sit with us in The Studio Family Dining Room which is a dining room between the children’s and the main dining room to be considerate to couples who are away to enjoy quiet time together.
The Playroom also has a freezer with a selection of pureed vegetables for babies as well as sterilising facilities for baby bottles etc. Nannies are also available to hire at a nominal fee outside of meal times which is a great option too.
Maddie and Charlie absolutely loved the Playroom and all the activities there was on offer for them to enjoy during our stay. From colouring in, puzzle making, play-dough fun, construction activities on the carpet and outdoor fun too like chalk-board drawing, a sandpit, a few swings and soft play! There’s also a TV for kids to enjoy a movie after meal times.
We were well fed during out stay and didn’t have a single bad meal! The Cavern serve three meals a day along with two tea times – so you really are spoilt with an incredible spread of food throughout the day! At each meal we were presented with a menu to select our courses from and we could dish up from a small buffet of salads, fresh pastries and breads.
THE CAVERN BAR & UNDERGROUND WINE CELLAR
A highlight of our ‘adult time’ – pre-dinner-drinks at The Cavern Bar and visiting the underground wine cellar each night to pick a bottle of wine to enjoy with our dinner.
We honestly had the most incredible time at ‘The Resort of Many Happy Returns’ and cannot wait to return for another memorable time spent as a family! The Cavern was the perfect place for us to bond as a family, Maddie loved making friends in the Playroom with other kids staying at the resort, with the nannies who looked after her at meal times and with the many dogs on the property. The Cavern is a special, tucked-away romantic getaway for couples, a gentle place to find quiet and solitude, as well as a safe and child-friendly resort with a range of fun activities for families!
We cannot wait for our happy return to The Cavern!
A huge thank you to Megan and her team at The Cavern for hosting us during our stay.
www.cavern.co.za for more information about The Cavern or to book your stay.