It is the enchantedness of the Champagne Valley that draws visitors to this part of the Drakensberg Mountains. Escape to a place of rare beauty that manages to remain almost entirely unaffected by development. The town of Winterton marks the entrance to Champagne Valley, which is said to have received its name from the first climber’s need to celebrate at the peak with a bottle of champagne, only to drop it before he could commemorate his notable achievement.
Activities in the Champagne Valley
- Adventure sports – Four Rivers Rafting and Adventures offer white water rafting trips, quad bikes, abseiling and a number of other adventure activities. Call 083 785 1693.
Champagne Castle Adventure Centre based at Dragon Peaks Resort has a range of rafting, zip lining, paintball, mountain bike trails and other adventurous activities. The Adventure Centre also offers Scootours (the first in SA). Contact 074 103 3613
- Arts and Crafts – Visit African Loom based at Ardmore Guest Farm for beautiful hammocks.
KwaZulu Weavers and Candle Factory outlet is open 7 days a week, has daily weaving demonstrations (036 488 1657). Numerous other arts and crafts are located at Thokozisa and Cedarwood.
- Canopy Tours – Old Cathkin hotel, opposite the Drakensberg Sun Hotel. The canopy tour takes half a day. Bookings essential 036 468 1981 or 083 661 5691.
- Fishing – The Drakensberg Sun dam is stocked with Rainbow Trout. Permits cost R50/day and rods can be hired at R40/day. Bell Park Dam: gates open 8am and close at 5:30pm daily. Adult’s entry fee R5 and children (6 to 12 years) R2. R10 per rod and R10 per boat.
- Golf – there are 2 courses to choose from. Monks Cowl Country Club is a 9-hole course (036 468 1300) while Champagne Sports Resort (036 468 1088) boasts a championship 18-hole course.
- Mini-golf/ Putt-Putt – at KwaZulu-Weavers and Waffle Hut. Tel 036 488 1657 Adventure Golf at Monks Cowl Country Club – R25.00 for 18 holes of putting fun.
- Hiking – Monks Cowl has hiking trails ranging from 1 hour to more challenging all day hikes up into the high berg. The area has a number of caves for overnight hiking expeditions.
- Horse riding – Ushaka Horse Trails. contact Karl: 036 468 1136 or 072 664 2993. Cathkin Horse Trails at the Drakensberg Sun Stables, contact Jon: 082 657 4344. Horse riding is also available at Dragon Peaks Resort.
- Pampering – there are beauty/wellness centres at Champagne Sports Resort (036 468 1088), Drakensberg Sun (036 468 1000), Champagne Castle Hotel (036 468 1222), The Nest (079 9925717) and Tranquillity Spa at Thokozisa (072 264 6398).
- Hot Air Ballooning needs to be pre-booked. Phone 011 – 8024318
- Tea gardens – scrumptious treats are on offer at the Valley Bakery, Thokozisa, The Waffle Hut , and The Purple Giraffe (Cedarwood Centre).
- Restaurants – Champagne Castle Hotel (036 468 1603), Champagne Sports Resort (036 468 8000) and the Drakensberg Sun (036 468 1000) hotels all have restaurants serving a buffet menu in the evening. The Hotels will not take outside dinning reservations if they are fully booked so it is best to make a booking. Monks Cowl Country Club (036 468 1300) and Thokozisa restaurants offer an al carte menu.
- The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School has concerts most Wednesdays afternoons in term time. The cost is R120 per adult, R100 for pensioners, R80 for children. Tickets call 036 468 1012. The school also has two annual concert weekends with visiting choirs and other performers. Music in the Mountains festival is hosted over the April/May long weekend and a Christmas concert is held early in December each year.
- Wildlife – Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Centre have daily raptor flight displays (10:30am) weather permitting, except Fridays. Entrance fee R50 per adult, child (u12) R20. Contact Greg or Alison 036 468 1752 or 082 7746398.
The Reptile Centre is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am. R50 per adult and R20 per child u12 years. An opportunity to feel and learn about a range of reptiles. 082 955 1404.
View Bees in a Glass Hive and dress up in a Bee Suit and experience handling bees for yourself. Bookings essential. Contact Deon on 036 4681308 or 083 432 0788 or 084 745 5999.
Spionkop Nature Reserve is a 600ha reserve situated around the Spionkop Dam offering horseback game viewing, boating and fishing. The reserve boasts some of the big game including Rhino, Giraffe and Eland. For more information contact 036 488 1578.