At the end of a long and winding valley in the Mpumalanga escarpment, lies one of the most perfect escapes into nature. The welcoming Forest Creek Lodge would our home for next 2 nights. Just 3 hours from Johannesburg, this four-star lodge offers beautifully appointed rooms, forest hikes, great nearby trout fishing, horse riding and more.
After being told by our host that the last five kilometres of the trip to the lodge were particularly rough and not suitable for little town cars, we took them up on their offer to be picked up in a double cab bakkie. We were met by Paulos, the manager of Forest Creek Lodge, who came down to ferry us through to the lodge. Despite the ride being quite bumpy it was still filled with beautiful views of the area and a few jokes by Paulos, punctuated by his semi-automatic style laughter. Hah-kah-kah-kah.
We arrived to Forest Creek Lodge around 16h00 in the afternoon. Just in time to have a drink at the bar, freshen up in our room, and a walk through the veld to watch the sun setting behind the mountains which formed an amphitheatre around us.
The rooms are wonderfully decorated with soft white linen, wooden four poster beds, a private outdoor shower, a bath looking into the bushes, dark wooden cabinets, TVs with DSTV for sports fans like myself, and luxurious finishings.
That night we had a wonderful four course dinner at the lodge. There were plenty of options to choose from, and the kitchen was very accommodating to our vegetarianism. After we had finished eating we rolled ourselves back to our room for a good night's rest.
The next morning we had breakfast on the veranda looking out onto the valley we were soon going to be hiking up. With a selection of great hot and cold breakfast options we were certainly going to have enough energy for the busy day ahead. After we'd finished eating we decided to head up the valley through the indigenous cloud forest. Unfortunately there was no cloud hanging in the forest this day - instead it was hot and dry, but it was still a beautiful hike.
The hike to the waterfall took around 2 hours of slow meandering, taking us alongside the river and past the ruins of settlements that were built several thousand years ago. There is plenty of animal life in the forest with many birds and butterflies to be seen. In truly cliché male style, I had decided against getting a map from the lodge before setting out, and somehow we got lost on our way back from the waterfall. Luckily we didn't wander too far, and managed to get back to the lodge in time for lunch.
Word to the wise, if you're having lunch at Forest Creek Lodge make sure you try the cheese, onion and mayo sandwiches. They are the owner's recipe and are particularly good after getting lost on a hike.
After lunch we headed out to go on a horse riding trail with the nearby Lydenrust Guest Farm & Horse Trails. We were met by Alison who quickly got us saddled up and out on the trail. I hadn't ridden since I was in high school and so was a bit apprehensive getting back into the saddle, but managed to pick it up again pretty quickly. The scenery was amazing as we rode through the fields, past blue gum forests and alongside farms. During our ride the sun had begun to set, and with the dust kicked up by the horses catching in the light, it was a truly wonderful outride.
That evening we settled in for dinner at Forest Creek Lodge after our busy day of exploring. The dinner was again brilliant with our curry being a big hit.
There are plenty of other activities we weren't able to get to on this trip, including trout fishing, clay pigeon shooting, picnicking in the veld, or enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner in the gazebo. You can also take a packed lunch with you on the hike up to the waterfall. The kitchen will prepare and pack your lunch in a rucksack for you to enjoy when you get to the waterfall.
The next morning we had breakfast at the lodge before setting out. It was certainly sad to leave such a beautiful and relaxing place. We'll definitely be back soon.
To find out more about Forest Creek Lodge and to book a weekend away in Dullstroom, click here.