A couple of weekends ago we had a whirlwind trip to the Drakensberg and stayed at Giants Castle. This was the first time visiting this beautiful place in the Midlands and I have been meaning to do a post on it ever since we got back.
We flew early on the Friday morning and landed in Durban. We got our rental 4×4 (essential to get to the Vulture Hide at Giants Castle) and made our way there.
I had been told the weather would by very cold and so I’d packed accordingly. Anybody that knows my way of packing will realise this means packing every single warm item of clothing I own into a suitcase. We arrived to beautiful weather and I felt a bit silly packing in so many warm layers (not knowing how the temperatures would fall in the evenings). This is the part where I say to hubby “you were right, it gets super cold there in winter”.
We were welcomed at reception and given the keys to our suite and the Vulture Hide. A huge highlight of this trip was visiting the Vulture Hide and booking before arrival is essential. Hubby had booked months ago so that we could have the hide to ourselves for the weekend (well worth the expense, this way you can visit as many times as you like and stay as long as you decide). We checked in and drove up (thankful for the 4×4!).
On the way to the Vulture Hide. The little building on the left is a loo.
View from inside the hide. It was cold but the views make you instantly forget the temperature.
The view from the hide was so beautiful. We felt like we were the only people looking out onto the mountains and seeing the Vultures circling. It was so peaceful just sitting and waiting.
We made our way to our honeymoon suite later that evening and were greeted by this view from our balcony.
It is difficult to capture the breathtaking views with my camera – hubby’s camera and lens was better suited for the job and I’ll share a link to his website at the end of this post.
The bedroom has a fireplace and a heater but as any photographer will know, camera equipment cannot go from cold to warm temperature without condensation. Hello warm layers of clothing! Laying at night listening to the water streaming down the mountain was one of the most peaceful sounds I’ve fallen asleep to.
The next morning hubby went early to the Vulture Hide and I made tea to enjoy in bed while looking at the views.
It was SO cold outside and once again – I was happy I’d packed accordingly.
There is a restaurant close to reception and their breakfasts are SO good. In the very cold months the 2 fire places warm the guests up!
The same beautiful views from the restaurant can be enjoyed over meals and there is a bar as well as an enclosed area where guests can sit and relax on couches. Outside is a large deck perfect for the warmer weather.
There were great sightings in the Vulture Hide including a Black-backed Jackal which came very close! The Cape Vulture is spotted here as well as the Bearded Vulture which was a new bird sighting for both of us. They ride the thermals and are magnificent to watch.
We had lunch in the restaurant.
We spent the afternoon back in our suite, relaxing on the balcony, looking at the mountains and confirming over and over how happy we were that we’d made the trip!
Sunday morning was chilly but after a hearty breakfast I was ready for the day!
Went back to the Vulture Hide and saw my best sightings of the weekend! My camera doesn’t do it justice but here is a Bearded Vulture soaring past the hide.
We packed up and made our way to the airport around midday. I was so sorry to leave – being in nature for the weekend made me feel so calm and relaxed. I’d also managed to lock myself out of my phone so I’d had no interruptions or distractions the entire time.
It was a whirlwind weekend and the sightings have us planning our next trip. Next time we plan to stay an extra night and hopefully can go in similar weather.
Super grateful to my husband for planning this wonderful getaway. Being so close to the Vultures was such an experience.
I’m including a link to his website which will show you close ups of the amazing Vultures. Feel free to visit http://markbooysen.com/ and his blog http://markbooysen.com/giants-castle-home-of-the-bearded-vulture-june-2019/ for some beautiful photos.