Antbear Eco Lodge is situated in the beautiful central Drakensberg region, right near the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve. It boasts some beautiful views over the nearby mountains and offers a very cosy getaway from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg. It also promotes an eco-sustainable lifestyle!
Found out what it’s like to stay at Antbear Eco Lodge and exactly why we chose it!
Our Experience At Antbear Eco Lodge Began Like This…
As we pulled up to the house, we were immediately greeted by Andrew, the owner of the Lodge, who was already standing outside when we arrived. We cannot brag enough about Andrew! He is someone you will definitely want to make friends with over the course of your stay! Honestly, he has the most interesting stories to tell. He himself has travelled far and wide, even backpacking from South Africa to Europe!
We first paid a visit to the main hall and reception area. We must say, walking into the main hall, you aren’t sure where to look first. The artistry and craftsmanship of all the surrounding woodwork is so unique and fascinating, that it stirs up your own creativity. This passion to create the unusual can be seen throughout the whole lodge.
Every detail so well thought out, from the bottles embedded into the door in the main entrance to the winding staircase leading up to the second story. The chandeliers are made out of teacups, the wooden hinges on the doors are one-of-a-kind, the window frames paint their own pictures, and Andrew’s self-made moving photo album even tells the story of the family who put their heart and soul into creating Antbear Eco Lodge.
Let us stop before we get too carried away… The bottom line is that the woodwork is spectacular and you will see unique, personality-driven pieces throughout all of the different rooms too.
What Makes Antbear An Eco Lodge?
Andrew and his wife Conny, are extremely passionate about living an eco-sustainable lifestyle. This is evident from how the buildings were constructed to the way they make their food.
We sat down to chat with Andrew about the lodge and it’s eco-sustainable lifestyle before we went to see the Luxury Cave which would be our home for the next two nights.
The Eco Food
Over the years they have cultivated their own vegetable garden. They also farm with (however, not commercially) their own cows, sheep, and chickens. There are also some very cute ‘extras’ running around, like turkeys, geese, ducks, and donkeys.
They even make their own bread, milk, cheese, jams and really all of their produce and if they can’t make it themselves, they source it locally.
The Eco Buildings
They have used alternative building styles and material throughout Antbear Eco Lodge. Construction is done using rammed earth, cob, hay bales, bottles for glass, and wood that is mostly up-cycled. It is so interesting to hear the is a story behind each piece…
However, Andrew says they are not completely off the grid yet, but they are hoping to be there within the next 2 years.
Well, we think they are doing a fantastic job and that more people should be looking into these alternative options!
The Luxury Cave At Antbear Eco Lodge
This is the reason we found Antbear Eco Lodge in the first place. The Luxury Cave. This unique accommodation has an interesting story itself. It all started because of a failed Reed Bed Filter, but we will let Andrew tell you more about that himself.
The Luxury Cave is extremely comfortable and we really enjoyed how cosy it all felt. We were able to just unwind on the hammocks outside as we gazed upon the view and then snuggled up next to the fireplace at night with some sherry in hand. It was very relaxing.
Room amenities include:
– King Size Bed
– Private Deck
– En Suite Bathroom with toiletries
– Spa Bath
– Complimentary Tea, Coffee, Sherry, and Biscuits
– Fire Place
– Two Hammocks
– Lots of plug points ✓
Let’s Talk Food
Antbear Eco Lodge uses the Farm-to-Table method (and it shows). Using organic ingredients that they have grown, we were treated to fresh and scrumptious South African dishes. Who can say ‘No’ to homemade bread, Oxtail and Malva pudding? And let’s not forget the most wonderful mouth-watering chocolate mousse!
They provide you with breakfast and dinner, which is all-inclusive in the price. You can also ask for a packed lunch if you are going on a hike.
Starting With Breakfast
As a pleasant start to your day, you can expect a Continental Breakfast consisting of muesli, yoghurt, fruit, toast, flapjacks and muffins along with one hot and delicious English Breakfast made to order. Yum!
If You Want Lunch
As said previously, guests can order a packed lunch if you would like to go on a hike. For lunch at Antbear (not packed), we had a marvellous toasted sandwich with a really fresh and crisp salad. You could taste the homegrown goodness!
Dinner By The Fire
Even though it was cold and raining outside, the fire was burning inside. The glow of candles cast a warm light across the dining hall and the resulting warm and cosy ambience just added so much to our lovely 3-course meals. It was all just so good. It reminded us of a warm and hearty home-cooked meal with a lot more flare.
Every afternoon the menu for that evening was put up outside the dining room, so you could peruse beforehand. Chef Brad, is also quite the joker and you are bound to have a few laughs with him.
What Can I Do At Antbear Eco Lodge?
You Can Go Horse Riding
I (Tammy) had never been horse riding before and was pretty nervous about the ride, but heck, I wasn’t going to say no! An adventure is an adventure! The whole experience turned out to be fantastic!
Rosa, a volunteer from Finland, was so friendly and helpful throughout the whole ride and provided us with some really awesome information about the horses.
My horse was called Spot and he was so super lazy. It took us a very long time to get him to agree to come out into the field. I love an animal with a quirky personality!
Star Gazing In A Hammock Camp
The Drakensberg is known for its amazing wealth of stars in the brilliant night sky, unobstructed by pollution or urbanisation. At Antbear Eco Lodge you can organise to spend an evening gazing upon the stars in a hammock, while a man from the nearby local community tells you traditional African stories, folktales and legends told to him by his grandmother.
This experience was truly magical. Not only did we enjoy getting lost in the cosmos guided by the voice of our story-teller, but we ended up having a long chat with him too! We learnt a lot, had a few laughs and strongly suggest giving this a go.
Hike The Giant’s Castle Slackpacking Trail
A new addition to Antbear Eco Lodge is the Slack Packing Trail. Essentially it is a luxury hike that takes place between three different lodges. You stay over at one and then hike to the next. However, you don’t have to worry about all the hard labour. Your bags are transported for you, you get to sleep in a cosy bed each night and you get delicious food prepared for you.
If you are a newbie to the hiking world, are doubting your fitness level or are simply looking for a luxurious few days out in the mountains, it doesn’t get any better than this! And the hosts from Zulu Waters Game Reserve and Leaopard’s Lair Lodge are also super friendly. You’ll feel right at home and be treated to divine food at every step.
Admire The Mountains From A Hammock
Sitting outside the Luxury Cave on the hammocks, with a cup of coffee, while overlooking the mountains was a great way to spend some time relaxing. Really, they are so comfortable that once you are down, you are down. You don’t want to get back up. All you need now is a good book.
Perhaps this is not the first things that jumps into everyones’ minds when we think of a relaxing escape in the Drakensberg. However, there is no way you could miss this unique chess set (or the gorgeous stained glass window that adorns it) in the reading and entertainment room above the dining hall. If you like to play, definitely give it a go. If not, there are also board games and some books to keep you company. Hey, it turns out this can also be a lovely couple’s bonding experience!
Meet Some Friendly Animals
Do I even need to convince you?
There are so many animals to make friends with on the farm. Cute little sheep, donkeys, horses… Oh! And the cutest mule on the planet named Rain! You have to say hello to her, she is very clever and quite mischievous. When we went horse riding, she insisted she join, she was not about to be left alone.
Meeting the animals is also a good start to exploring the labyrinth. It’s a set of wending pathways underneath the trees that lead you to the Rapunzel Tower! So there’s two more things to do!
There is a charming chapel on site, that has that same unique woodwork throughout. It’s beautiful! So, hey, why not…
Of course, there is more than enough accommodation for everyone and Chef Brad can whip up a storm! So if you’re planning (and would like to have less to plan) there’s a few things already checked off your list.
What Can I Do In The Surrounding Areas?
Hike Giant’s Castle
The Drakensberg has some of the most gorgeous mountain views on the planet and is probably one of the reasons you are visiting, so why not explore some more on a hiking trail. Giants Castle is also known for some of the most gorgeous traditional San Rock Art.
If you are serious about your hiking and need a good starting point, we’d recommend nothing other than Injisuthi. You can read more below:
Journey To The Different Battlefields And Monuments
If you are a history lover, you will love this. There are many ‘must-see’ sites that depict the battle between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus, as well as the Anglo Boer War.
They are scattered around the area, but Andrew has maps and advice on hand.
Explore The Midlands Meander Or Road Trip The Drakensberg
The Midlands Meander offers up unique arts and crafts stores, cafés and outdoor activities that take place in the most beautiful countryside.
If you are more keen on furthering your explorations within the Drakensberg region, then you can take a look at our road trip right here:
Finally, if you’d just like the entire itinerary, with routes, attractions, times, advice and all the planning done for you, you can simply watch this video!
How To Get to Antbear Eco Lodge
Antbear Eco Lodge is located in a town called Escourt, by Giants Castle, in the heart of the Drakensberg.
Coming From Johannesburg
If you are heading there from Johannesburg, it will probably take you around 4 and a half hours to travel down.
Coming From Durban
From Durban, it is about a 2-hour’s drive away.
You Can Also Fly Down
If you are not near Johannesburg or Durban, we recommend you fly into King Shaka International Airport and rent a car from there. Preferably rent an SUV or 4X4 vehicle, as you will have to travel on a dirt road for quite a while. (We have successfully done it in a sedan, twice.)
The Road To Antbear
The trip on the dirt road is quite an interesting one. The road travels over a mountain, so at some points, you will be quite high up and have a sheer drop to one side of you. It is an impressive sight, with the most beautiful dam down below in the valley.
You will also drive through a rural community and cross over an old metal bridge before you reach the Antbear Eco Lodge turn-off. It’s a great way to see rural South Africa and experience a different side of the South African culture.
Toll Roads, Yay!
Also, be warned there are a few toll gates you will have to pass on your way. They normally charge about ±R55 each time. So we advise you either have enough cash drawn out or a credit card with you.
We have an E-Tag (which comes standard with rental vehicles too), which we found to be very helpful, because then we didn’t have to carry cash with us. You can just drive through the “Shesha Lane” and it automatically opens up for you.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time at Antbear Eco Lodge and in the Drakensberg as a whole. If you decide to visit Antbear, please tell us about your experience in the comments below!
And be sure to tell Andrew that your friends from Dear Travallure sent you there. We can’t guarantee preferential treatment… But it couldn’t hurt! (Let us know if it works!)
We visited during November and were met with sunny days and rainy nights. However, as the rain came down on our last night at Antbear, we felt a sense of home, a warm toastiness that bubbled up within us.
P.S. Here’s A Cool Fact
Antbear Eco Lodge is Pet-Friendly! That means you are more than welcome to bring your furry friends along with you!
Another cool fact is that Andrew and the whole Antbear team are very involved in the enrichment and upliftment of the local community. He’s always more than willing to chat about it if you’re interested!
Book Now At Antbear Eco Lodge
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