The Nest - Drakensberg Mountain Resort Hotel & Conference VenueLocation: South Africa » Kwazulu Natal » Drakensberg » Central Drakensberg » Monks Cowl » Winterton
The Nest - Drakensberg Mountain Resort Hotel & Conference Venue
The combination of award winning food, spectacular gardens, wonderful facilities, friendly staff, relaxing accommodation and exquisite views over the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site together with the availability of just about all leisure and sporting facilities imaginable that make The Nest a unique and much loved destination for so many tourists and families from far flung places.
A delightful country hotel set amidst the scenic Drakensberg Mountains. Charming thatched rondavels and bungalows are set in 25 acres of trim, tranquil, park like gardens. The Nest offers a wide range of activities with swimming pool, tennis courts, mountain bikes, croquet lawn, horse riding, golf, river walks and guided hikes into the mountains.
The Nest is the oldest and most well-known of all the Berg resorts in the Natal Drakensberg. Celebrating its 70th year of welcoming guests in 2003, The Nest has a strong following of guests who make a point of coming year after year, returning to this most special place of comfort, wonder and beauty.
Set in acres of beautiful and well kept park-like gardens, our rooms offer a peaceful escape from the hustle of city life, which by choice have no televisions in the rooms. All rooms are en-suite, have tea / coffee making facilities and radio, and will soon also all have ceiling fans, electronic safes, under carpet heating and heated towel racks.
Garden Rondavels are cosy, round and thatched units set individually in magnificent Gardens. Mountain View Units have a stunning view and Premier Garden Rondavels have extra finishes like a ceiling fan, electric u/c heating and heated towel-racks etc.All units are neatly appointed, cosy and comfortable with bath/shower and toilet en-suite, radio, telephone, coffee/tea making facility, Mountain View Units have their own private veranda with spectacular views of the Drakensberg.
We offer double, triple and Family units.Some of the Family accommodation consists of two inter-leading rooms sharing a bathroom en suit.Family Mountain View units consist of a room upstairs, room downstairs with steep spiral staircase- also sharing a bathroom.
The Nest attracts a lot of honeymooners keen to get away from the madding crowd. We have a beautiful honeymoon rondavel complete with four-poster bed. Our two executive suites are also used by honeymooners.
The sporting playground in the Drakensberg
Hotel sporting facilities
3 Professional Bowling Greens*
2 Tennis Courts
Table Tennis (ball may be purchased at reception)*
Children's Play Ground
Full Sized Billiards Table*
Walks and Excursions*
Nearby sporting facilities
Horse riding @ Scrumpy Jacks (1km from hotel)
Golf @ Champagne Sports Resort Golf Club and Monks Cowl Golf Club
* Denotes activities for which a nominal fee is charged to cover costs such as transport, entrance fees, cold drink, guide/consumables etc.
The Nest Hotel offers a wide range of activities and entertainment. Bowls for beginners is encouraged and informal games welcomed. Guests seldom leave without having enjoyed some bowls. With three championship bowling greens and resident coach in attendance, bowls can be played all year round. Many bowls tournaments, coaching clinics and greenkeeper seminars are held. There are two all weather tennis courts and a croquet lawn. Horse riding is a speciality at The Nest for beginners and advanced riders. There are many beautiful walks along our river with pools and waterfalls as well as guided hikes into the mountains.
We arrange scenic drives, visit Bushmen paintings, historic Anglo Boer war sites, or take you to listen to the famous Drakensberg Boys Choir, Aluka Rug factory, Kwa-Zulu Shoe factory and Meadow Sweet Herb farm. There is a picturesque golf course, an airstrip for fly-in visitors, volleyball, table-tennis, billiards, pool, darts, satellite TV lounge, videos, library, a variety of indoor games and romantic candlelit dinner dances.
The Drakensberg is beautiful all year round. Winter is very special with clear sunny days and chilly nights warmed by log fires, the chance to see snow on the mountains or watch graceful gliders rising in the warm mountain thermals.
So, enjoy your break with us at The Nest and become one of our extended family, we love to have you as our guest.LEISURE & SPORTING ACTIVITIES:
The hotel has a number of activities ranging from walks to bridge in the formal lounge. Horse Riding daily; Children's Horse Riding; 3 Professional Bowling Greens; 2 Tennis Courts; Swimming Pool; Badminton; Volleyball; Croquet; Swing Ball; Darts; Table Tennis; Children's Play Ground; Mountain Bikes; Full Sized Billiards Table; Pool Table; Walks and Excursions; Fully licensed Ladies Bar; Candle light Dinner Dance on Saturday evenings; Satellite TV lounge and videos.
Daily activities for your enjoyment
We have an exciting daily entertainment programme. During peak season such as Easter and Christmas we have dedicated entertainment people who will keep both adults and children alike happy and entertained.
Must see Drakensberg Attractions
There are a number of attractions for visitors to the Central Drakensberg:
Drakensberg Boys Choir A major attraction every Wednesday (not in school holidays), the concert in the afternoon at the Boys Choir School nearby. 15 min. by car.
Anglo-Boer War Battle Sites Apart from the famous Spioenkop Battle site nearby there are numerous more in our area. Please inquire at Reception. A guide can usually be made available and the Ladysmith Siege Museum is often a good source of information and tour starting point.
Bushman Paintings Close by in the Dragons Peak Park are the most easily accessible rock-art from our San predecessors. High up in the mountains there are many but are difficult and to reach and find. Giant's Castle Nature Reserve 1¼ hours from The Nest by car features an original Bushman cave museum and beautiful original paintings inquire at Reception.
This is an interesting historic place about 20 min. from The Nest, and is well worth visiting.
Get high in nature! The Drakensberg Mountain range spans more than 1000 kilometers but it is here in the Central Drakensberg that it is most beautiful and stands tallest.
This makes it the ideal location for a range of day hikes from basic 2 hour hikes to 7 hour hikes:
Day hiking trails in the Central Drakensberg:
Hiking trails at Monks Cowl and Champagne Castle
- Champagne Castle Via Gray's Pass
An extreme 19 hrs hike (19 kms)
The trail goes up the Mhlwazini Valley, between Champagne Castle and Dragon's Back on the right and Monk's Cowl on the left, with views so dramatic that if the path doesn't take your breath away, the secenery surely will.
- Contour Path- Monk's Cowl to Injasuti
A moderate 9 hrs hike (21 kms)
This hike is the longest, hardest and least used of three possible routes between Monk's Cowl and Injasuti Camp. The most commonly used path is the Van Heynigen's Pass & Shada Ridge.
- Crystal Falls and Sphinx
A fair 1 hr 20 mins hike (3 kms)
The path leads south then west across to the Sphinx and further to Breakfast Stream. This hike is the beginning section of all hikes radiating from the Monk's Cowl KZN Wildlife office.
- Fern Forest
An easy 30 minutes (1 kms)
This is a short walk along a forested stream to a waterfall and a picnic spot.
- Mhlwazini Valley Trail
A severe 9 hrs hike (24 kms)
From the Monks Cowl Camp Site the route ascends the sphinx, and contours around the top of the Hlatikulu Forest. From there is heads down into the Mhlwazini Valley and along the river.
- Stable Cave Trail
A moderate 4 hrs hike (9.5 kms)
The route ascends the Steilberg to the top of the little berg. The cave looks north from a narrow ridge of the Little Berg Plateau towards the Valley of Pools.
- Sterkspruit Falls and Gorge
A moderate - severe 6 hrs hike (15 kms)
This is a pleasant outing involving some boulder hopping and river crossings. Start at Monks Cowl Campsite following the Serkspruit River into the gorge. The return route is further south, running eastwards across the little berg, down to the Sphinx and Loops down to the campsite. Long and severe.
Hiking trails at Cathedral Peak
- Blue Pool and Nyosi Grotto
A easy 2 hrs or 5.5 kms hike
A short hike in the Cathedral Peak area, starting from the hotel and following the Nyosi River southwards.
- Cathedral Peak Hike
An extreme 6 to 7 hrs hike - 10km.
A long arduous hike requiring a high level of fitness. Starts from Cathedral Peak Hotel, up the path to the Cathedral Ridge. Rock scrambling is often necessary due to rock slides on the gully below the peak.
- Contour Path - Cathedral Peak to Ndedema
A moderate to severe hike of 3 hours or 3.5 kms
A long hard hike. Starts at Cathedral Peak Hotel, up to contour path below Cathedral range and follow it southwards. Hike passes underneath the main escarpment and back down the Ndedema Gorge.
- Contour Path- Ndedema to Monk's Cowl
A moderate 2 day hike(27.5 kms)
A severe hike which starts at the contour path at the upper end of the Ndedema Valley. This is reached via the solar cliffs path in the Cathedral area, or via the Hikes' Pass route up to the contour path. The hike follows the contour path southwards traversing the Mdedela Wilderness area.
- Ganabu Ridge and Baboon Rock
A severe 6 hr hike(15kms)
The hike starts on the Cathedral Peak route and then branches off to the right, going down into the Nxwaye valley, up the Ganabu Ridge and down Baboon Rock.
- Mlambonja Pass to Twins Cave
A severe 6-8 hrs hike (11 kms)
From Cathedral Peak Hotel the path follows the river past the trout hatchery and up to the top of the little berg above the mlambonja river. The pass is consistently very steep and long.
- Mlambonja Valley (3)
A moderate 30 mins - 2 hrs hike (1,5 - 5,2 kms)
There are three hikes, the lower valley 1,5 km, neptunes pool 4,2 km and marble baths 5,2 km. The Mlambonja Pass Route bypasses most of the lower river valley. All hikes begin at the Cathedral Peak Hotel.
- Mushroom Rock
A fair 1 hr hike (2 kms)
This is a fairly steep hike, which leads up behind the hotel to a large mushroom-shaped rock.
- Old Furrow Trail
There are displays along the route which makes the trail is convenient for school groups. The trail gives views of the Bushman's River and wild animals especially buck may be seen in the open grassland. Picnic sites are available.
- Oqalweni Forest Walk
An easy 2 hrs hike (5.5 kms)
This route is ideal for hikers who prefer secluded outings. It starts from the Cathedral Peak Hotel, past the trout hatchery and along the Oqalweni River to a waterfall and pool.
- Oqalweni Valley
A moderate 5 hrs hike (16.5 kms)
This hike gives you a grand tour of the valley. The path passes through a number of habitats. It starts at the Cathedral Peak path past Shermans Cave, but takes the left fork of the contour path around the top of the Oqalweni Valley and back down one tree hill.
- Rainbow Gorge
A fair 2 hrs hike (5.5 kms)
This is probably one of the most picturesque hikes in the area. From the hotel skirt the base of Tryme Hill westwards, then eastwards on the path into the gorge. Once in the gorge itself the path follows the river.
- Tarn and Tryme Hills
A hike of4 hrs (10 kms)
This half-day outing affords grand views of the escarpment and close up encounters with some high spires and butresses, as well as the possibility of exploring the forests around the available falls, all on the same stream, a tributory of the Mhlonhlo River.
Cathedral Peak, Central Drakensberg.
- Tseketseke Camp Site
A moderate -severe 4 hrs hike (9.5 kms)
This hike takes one into the mountains directly below Cleft Peak which dominates the area betweeen Cathedral Peak and Champagne Castle.
- Two Passes and Cleft Peak Escarpment Hike
An extreme 3 days hike (40 kms)
The route starts at the top of Mike's Pass near Cathedral Peak Hotel, up the long ridge and the very steep Organ Pipes Pass. Traverse the escarpment and descend via Mlambonja Pass. This hike is classified extreme and for good reason. Not to be undertaken by the unfit or inexperienced. Mike's Pass to Cathedral Peak Hotel via Organ Pipes.
Hiking trails in Giant's Castle Game Reserve and Injasuthi
- Bannerman Hut
A severe 4.5 hrs hike (11 kms)
A long hike from the Giant's Camp northwest along a clear path, with an early start it is easy to make the hut by mid-morning. The hut must be booked through KZN Nature Conservation Service.
- Battle Cave to Injasuti Cave
A moderate 4 hrs hike (8.5 kms)
This is a guided tour of the battle cave where a pictorial display of bushman life In this valley complete with a taped guide to the paintings are seen. One can stay for a night at the Lower Injasuti Cave, but bookings must be made in advance for both this and the battle cave tour. Trout fishing, hiki, swimming, curios, charcoal, maps.
- Berg view
A fair 2 hrs hike (5 kms)
A short hike from the Giant's Castle Camp to a popular view point, offering one of the best views of the escarpment, ranging from Giant's Castle to Cathkin Peak.
- Centenary Hut
A severe 5 hrs hike (10 km)
Injasuti. Follow the path Pastfergy's Cave for 4kms to centenary of the contourpath
- Champagne Pools
An easy hike (4kms - 1.5 hrs)
A circular walk starting 1km from Giant's Castle main gate. Secluded pools for swimming and fishing.
- Giant's Castle Pass
An extreme 4 hrs or 6 kms hike (from Giants Hut)
The hike begins at Giant's Castle Camp and continues up to the top of the little Berg, up the very steep Giant's Pass. Not for the inexperienced.
- Giant's Hut via Oribi Ridge
A severe 4 hrs hike (10.5 kms)
An alternative route to Giant's Hut just south of the two dassies stream route. It starts at the main Giant's Castle Camp, climbing steadily to the hut, which must be booked.
- Grindstone Caves and Cataract Valley
A moderate 4 hrs hike (13 kms)
This hike begins at injasuti camp and follows a circular route via Grindstone Caves, the waterfalls and Cataract Valley. The path follows the Mhlwazini River back to the camp.
- Grysbok Bush
A fair 2 hrs 30 mins hike (4 kms)
This hike, starting at Giant's Castle main camp, takes you up the Bushman's River to the largest forest in the Giant's Castle area .
- Langalibalele Pass
A severe 3 hrs 30 mins hike (6.5 kms)
Follow the path from the main Giant's Castle Camp past the main caves. The path is consistently steep although the pass itself is one of the easiest and shortest in the berg.
Follow the path from the main Giant's Castle camp past the main caves.
- Main Caves
An easy 40 mins hike
This hike leads from the camp, along the river near the edge of a forest, up to the large caves, which are crucial archaeological sites and have been turned into a museum showing the Bushman's way of life. Tours are conducted throughout the year at set times in the company of a field ranger.
- Marble Baths
A moderate hike. (8.5kms - 6hrs)
From Injisuthi Camp follow the route to Fergy's Cave but take the right fork along the Injisuthi River approximately 4kms from the start. You can overnight at the Marble Baths Cave.
- Meander Hut
A fair hike. (5.5kms - 2hrs)
There are two ways to get to this hut, which overlooks the Meander Stream from its perch on top of the cliffs of the Little Berg. The hut accommodates four people and it must be booked.
- Old Kraal and Yellowwood Forest
An easy 1 hr hike (2.5 kms)
This is a short walk in the vicinity of the camp. From the office at Injasuti take the Cowl Stream fork. At the top of the incline turn left to the walls of the old kraal. And shortly after that left again to the old woman stream. After crossing the river turn left and follow the path back to camp.
- River Walk
An easy 1.5kms - 30mins hike
this pleasant stroll has no specific destination and can join the forest walk for a most enjoyable ramble.
- Spare Rib Cave
A severe 2 hrs hike (3kms)
Injasuti. Proceed up Bannerman Pass from Bannerman Hut. The cave is near the top of the escarpment on the left hand side.
- Van Heyningen's Pass to View Point
A moderate 3 hrs hike (8 kms)
This will serve as a hikers' orientation with the surrounding landscapes and major peaks.
- Wildebeest Plateau
A moderate 6 hrs hike (18 kms)
This hike is perfect for a day's outing with opportunties to relax and swim, and to observe the surroundings at leisure.
- World's view
A moderate 3 hrs hike (7 kms)
From the picnic area take the concrete path down to and across Bannerman Bridge. Follow the path to below Sugarloaf Kop and on up to World's View.
Hiking trails in Royal Natal National Park
- Amphitheatre to Cathedral
4 to 5 days (62kms)
The route passes parts of the Drakensberg including the Amphitheatre, Mbundini, Mnweni and The Rockeries, The Saddle and The Cathedral range.
- Devil's Hoek Valley
A fairly easy hike of 1hr(3km)
The path gets progressively steeper and the views more spectacular. Royal Natal National Park. The route takes you from the Tugela River Carpark along the the Tugela Valley and then up the Devil's Hoek tributary
- Mckinley's Pool, Gudu Falls, The Grotto
Moderate distances, the route is well marked and fairly easy to hike and explore. There are many clear rock pools where you could enjoy a swim. Royal Natal National Park, numerous trails leading off from the Mahai Campsite up the river valley to Mckinley's Pool.
- Mont-Aux-Sources via Basutho Gate and The Chain Ladder
The hike starts from the Mahai River Campsite, follows the Mahai River Valley, passes the Witsieshoek Mountain Resort, to the Sentinel carpark and up the Chain Ladder to the escarpment.
- Otto's Walk & Bushman Paintings
An easy walk of 1hr (2kms)
The path leads up the Sigubudu Valley to some fine examples San rock paintings. Royal Natal National Park, begin at the visitor's centre and takes you along the Tugela River and continues towards the park gate.
- Rugged Glen to Mahai
Rugged Glen is a nature reserve connected by road to the Mahai Campsite.
- Sigubudu Ridge and Valley
A moderate hike of 4-5 hrs (12km)
The path takes you through Protea Veld, past Sunday Falls to Fairy Glen. Royal Natal National Park. This is a round trip from Mahai Campsite via Sigubudu Valley.
- Tugela Gorge
A moderate hike of + 2 hrs (7km)
The route goes through alternative stretches of protea veld and forest, and the scenery beyond the gorge is rivaled only by the view from the top of the Tugela Falls.
- Vemaan Valley
A fairly easy hike of 1hr. 45mins (4.3km)
A rare species of protea, known as protea nubigena has been found here. Royal Natal National Park. Follow the same route as for Devil's Hoek Valley, but 1 km after turning right at the junction leading up to Devil's Hoek, the Vemaan Path leads off to the left over the Devil's Hoek River.
Hiking trails at Mnweni
- Icidi Pass
An extreme round trip of a minimum of 3 days. The hike starts at the Isanlwana Police Post in the Mweni Valley and follows the Icidi River to the escarpment. It requires serious, potentially dangerous rock scrambling, and should only be attempted by experienced, competent mountaineers. In the Icidi Valley which is in upper Tugela area of the KwaZulu-Natal Northern Drakensberg area.
- Ifidi Pass
Ifidi Valley, Mnweni.
An extreme round trip of a minimum of 3 days. From the Isandlwana Police Post follow the Mnweni River to its junction with the Ifidi River. The route then follows the Ifidi River and up Ifidi Pass. This hike should be led only by competent mountaineers with able parties, as it requires rock climbing. It is a potentially dangerous route.
- Mbundini and Fangs Passes
An extreme hike of 2 days (27 kms)
Two steep passes in the Mnweni area leading to the top of the escarpment and enclosing Mbundini Abbey Peak. These passes are steep and dangerous and should not be attempted by the inexperienced.
- Mnweni via Rockeries and Mnweni Passes
An extreme hike of 4 days (48 kms)
An extremely long and difficult hike which begins at the Isandlwana Police Post in the Mnweni area. The first day would take you to the base of the Rockeries Pass, the second to the top and Mponjwane or Ledgers Cave, the third down the base of Mnweni Pass and the fourth back to the police post.
- nTonyelana Pass
An extreme round trip of a minimum of 2 days. A long route to the top of the escarpment from the Isandlwana Police Post, following the Ntonjelana River.
Curios & Shopping
What to buy in the Central Drakensberg
There is a small curio shop in the hotel which caters primarily for souvenirs and bowling paraphernalia but also stocks a number of everyday essential items such as toiletries.
There are a number of unique shopping attractions in the area:
Thokozise Lifestyle Centre
A small rustic retail complex less than ten minutes drive from The Nest Hotel which has a number of interesting shops including:
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Meadowsweet organic herb farm Stocks a range of products from bath salts to herbal teas all grown and manufactured in the Central Drakensberg.
Hand crafted metal candle stick holders and curios which are manufatured on a local farm.
San Rock Art Authentic San styled clothing, footwear and curios.
Bunjy Toy Factory
Only 30 min. by car from The Nest on the road to Estcourt. See how toys are made and buy some cuddly fluffy toys at a special price.
Kwa-Zulu Weavers & Candle Factory
See rug weaving and making, curios and arts & crafts. About 7km from The Nest on the way to Winterton.
Ardmore Pottery Studio
Just a few minutes by car or hire one of our mountain bikes (about 5km), or you may even wish to walk there. An old cow shed has been converted to a super pottery studio producing award winning and unusual pottery by local craftsmen view, buy and have a cup of tea
For all good cheese lovers, visit the Tevreden Cheese factory and see cheese making and taste and enjoy various kinds of cheese with good wines and eats for a nominal fee. Best times to visit are from 10h00 to 13h00. Mondays to Fridays. Phone Lisle 036 448 1840. Near Bergville, about 35 min. by car. Details at Reception.
DirectionsThe Nest Hotel is situated in the foothills of the stunning Central Drakensberg mountain range in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa.
It is less than 4 hours from three of the largest cosmopolitan cities in the country, these being Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein and only an hour from Pietermaritzburg.
In Harrismith take the N5 to Bethlehem\Kestell for 4 kms, then the turnoff to Bergville\Qwa Qwa for 8 kms. You will then take the R74 Bergville\Oliviershoek Pass. The sign reads Bergville, Northern\Central Berg resorts. Stay on the R74 past Bergville into Winterton. As you enter Winterton on your left is an Engen Petrol Station. Take the first right onto the R600 opposite the Engen Station. Travel down the R600 for approx. 20Km and you will see The Nest Hotel entrance on the right.
Take the N3 North and then the Estcourt North\Giants Castle, Central Drakensberg turnoff (exit no. 179) , to the left, off the highway. At the stop turn left and drive FOR approx. 30km until you come to the intersection turning left into the R600 (Central Berg). Travel down the R600 for approx. 7Km and you will see The Nest Hotel entrance on the right.
Recommended route for internationals:
If visiting from overseas we would recommend flying to Johannesburg and then hiring a car to drive to the nest, alternatively you could catch a bus to Estcourt the nearest town and we can arrange for a pickup shuttle. You could also fly via a chartered plane from Johannesburg to the local AIRSTRIP, WHICH is less than ten minutes away from The Nest Hotel.