An Inspiring Stay at Antbear Eco Lodge // Drakensberg, South Africa
I kid you not I nearly cried as I walked into the main lodge at Antbear Eco Lodge. I had expected it to be good, I'd seen the reviews, but I didn't quite expect what my eyes were met with when I first stepped into Antbear Eco Lodge. See, if you time it well, as we did, you'll arrive as the sun is going down and the main lodge is completely aglow as the sun reflects off each and every handcrafted wooden feature that fills Antbear.
This 'handcrafted' way of doing things at Antbear is somewhat of a mantra for the owners, Andrew and Conny. The twisted staircase, the chairs, the light fittings, the doors and their intricate cog mechanisms- everything you see has been made by hand by Antbear Eco Lodge's owners and family. Because of this handmade nature, Antbear has positioned itself as a place that is uniquivocally unique and brilliantly eco-friendly in South Africa's Drakensberg.
This 'eco-friendly' title is quite simply about being resourceful for Antbear's owners. It's a conscious process of looking at what you have to hand and re-purposing it into something else. That's how Antbear got to the established place it is today- by slowly crafting itself from it's surroundings. Thankfully this was easy enough, as the second to none location Antbear has grown from, at the foot of the Drakensberg mountain range in Kwa-Zulu Natal, is covered in a grass that is prime for building sustainable, straw bale houses. Most of the lodges at Antbear are made from this material and covered with a beautifully thatched roof - not forgetting the coveted 'cave' accommodation which boasts it's own private vista and promises a completely unique stay too.
As for the rest of the Antbear experience - breakfast and dinner are had at the main lodge and are completely delicious. In keeping with the resourceful and eco-friendly vibe, Antbear resources what it can from its own kitchen garden to give you the most nutritious meal possible. From their own vegetables, salads and home made bread, to butter and cheese made from their very own dairy cows. What they can't provide themselves they source locally, even bartering with their own harvest of peaches, lemons or limes to get what they need. Apparently there is a fantastic oyster mushroom grower over the one hill and a dairy farmer over the other who's yoghurt is second to only their own!
In terms of entertainment, if the views aren't enough, Antbear have made their own beautiful Labyrinth in the woods for you to meditate around. There are games in the main lodge (including handmade chess boards), an honesty bar that has everything you might need, and of course you have the Drakensberg range to explore for day hikes as well as the famous delights of Nottingham Road.
If I were you though, when booking your trip to Antbear Eco Lodge, I'd plan for nothing. Take a good book if you must, but I promise you, once you've locked eyes with the view from the mountain facing lodge's you won't need anymore entertainment.
Thank you Antbear for a fantastic stay!