The new manager collapsed onto the sofa, a glass of red wine in hand. I need to up the marketing of this place; what word would you use to describe Antbear Lodge? We were nibbling on pre-dinner snacks and sipping wine while thinking of adjectives…
Quirky? Surreal? Unusual? Wood?
Antbear Lodge near Mooiriver and Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg range is off the beaten track. It takes a drive and a good car to get there, but once you are there you do not want to go. Located about an hour off the N3 (at Mooiriver) in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, you brave a potholed tar-road passing through horsey paddocks and cosmos-studded hills to get to the farm.
Antbear has a selection of 15 rooms and chalets dotted in a sprawling garden. It includes family units (with single beds for children accessed with walkways and ladders) to a romantic cave with open plan bathroom and fireplace. Bathrobes, slippers, fireplaces, tea/coffee trays (with cookies) and sherry are standard features in all the rooms. Cell phone reception is patchy and there are no TV’s. All units overlook Giant’s Castle (40 minutes) to the west.
The best way to end the day at Antbear is watching the sun set behind the mountain from a lounger with a glass of sherry in hand. It was autumn already and the moment the sun slipped away, it was freezing. Through the stained-glass windows were spilling streams of red, yellow and orange light as we approached the dining room. The huge wooden table can seat at least 16 people and was set with serviettes like paper swans. A fire was going and from the kitchen there were the sounds of supper.
Tonight’s menu promised phyllo parcels with mushrooms, roasted bush pig with rosemary pasta and banana cake with custard. We settled in the lounge where we met Graham, the new manager…
Quirky? In our bathroom was a round wooden cupboard with a massive wooden toothbrush. The deck above the dining room had a huge triangular window with a stained-glass sun motive. In the afternoon, you would sit in bright colours as the sun stream in while you move huge chess pieces on a huge chess board.
Surreal? Doors and window frames are handmade in organic shapes and open with gears and levers and sliding wooden arms.
Unusual? A wooden chandelier about the dining room table is adorned with old porcelain cups.
Wood? Owner Andrew Attwood uses wood such as jacaranda and red river gum in his organic creations. The use of alien trees underscores Antbear’s philosophy of sustainable living and working.
Stay for at least two nights, there are lots to do. Ride horses, walk, visit Giant’s Castle, fly with Andrew in his microlight, go for a Body Talk session, read your book or play chess.
I liked: the fireplace in the room, quirky furniture and the silence.
I did not like: that there were no torches in the room. It was very dark walking back from the dining room.