It’s hard to believe that 2017 is coming to a close. It all happened so quickly. The year has been an amazing one for us – and now we are preparing for a busy summer and Christmas Holiday. We thought we would give you some inspiration for the upcoming holidays. Whether you are a couple or a family, there are loads of wonderful activities on the property as well as nearby including the Battlefields, the Lions Alive Sanctuary and a stunning day trip through Golden Gate National Park to Clarens.
As for Christmas, Kathy has already decided on the menu. As always, focusing on the best local ingredients from our garden as well as farms in the region.
Mrs Claus has confirmed the arrival of her infamous husband, Mr Claus, on Christmas Eve. Rumour has it he arrives in Van Reenen at about 11:30 and is scheduled to be with us by about midnight. So make sure you are all tucked in bed before then with milk and cookies at the ready next to your fireplace. He can still squeeze down the chimney!
The recent rains have been received gratefully so our permaculture project is thriving as is our kitchen garden.
There is so much to explore at Oaklands and in the surrounding area. To give you a bit of inspiration while making your summer plans, here are some activities to consider…
Things to do at Oaklands
REGENERATIVE FARM TOURS
At Oaklands, we are passionate about regenerative farming – an approach to food and farming systems that regenerates topsoil and increases biodiversity now and long into the future. Regenerative Agriculture improves water cycles, enhances ecosystem services, increases resilience to climate fluctuation and strengthens the health and vitality of farming communities.
On request, we can arrange an interactive tour for children and adults alike walking through the property and sharing this incredible project that includes vermiculture, permaculture and the production of Caroline’s medicine foods.
We hope it is an inspiration to you and your family to live more consciously!
Oaklands Country Manor offers excellent riding facilities and equipment. This unique and relaxing activity is a great way to take in the breath-taking views and fresh mountain air. Horse riding activities include outrides and arena rides on our beautifully schooled horses. Young children are well catered for by our experienced grooms in the safe confines of the arena.
Our experienced team is on hand to assist beginners, whilst seasoned riders are welcome to explore the countryside accompanied by a groom following an assessment ride.
Padding is a fun and safe activity for children. We have two paddling dams which reception can steer you towards. Our basic canoes are available free of charge.
If you are feeling energetic you might well enjoy a game of tennis in a stunning country setting. Our court is located on the property and use of the facility is free for guests, with basic racquets available at a nominal charge and tennis balls for sale in the hotel shop.
Three stocked dams for all year round bass fishing are situated on the Oaklands property. Guests are welcome to hire basic fishing rods and tackle at a nominal fee from reception.
CYCLING & MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDING
Cyclists and mountain bikers can take advantage of a number of marked trails both on the property and in the local area. The area surrounding Oaklands is great mountain biking terrain with trails suitable for all skill levels, from novice to serious riders looking for a challenge.
A popular route is the 30km cycle from Oaklands to The Hound and Hare, a local pub which makes for a great lunch stop. Reception can provide trails that vary from a 21km to an 80km trail. All mountain bikers will enjoy a ride in our beautiful country setting.
WALKING & HIKING
Explore the unspoiled terrain that surrounds Oaklands Country Manor at your own pace with a number of walking and hiking trails on the property and beyond. Most trails are within a 15km driving distance of the hotel grounds. Enjoy a peaceful stroll through the countryside on your own, or arrange to take an informative guided walk. Routes vary form leisurely walks, to slightly more challenging hikes and rock climbing trails.
We have a wonderful pool to cool off in and hang about when you feel like relaxing.
Things to do near Oaklands
Ladysmith is situated almost halfway between Johannesburg and Durban, a 45 minute drive from Oaklands Country Manor. A key point in the struggle for Natal during the Anglo-Boer War, the small town and the old battlefields nearby are a popular attraction for history enthusiasts.
SPIOENKOP BATTLEFIELD TOUR
Spioenkop is the site where one of the most ferocious battles occurred during the Anglo-Boer War over a hundred years ago.
On the 23rd and 24th of January 1900, the Boers and Brits engaged in bloody combat to gain control of Spioenkop, the commanding hill that was thought crucial in relieving Ladysmith.
Today visitors can explore the battlefield site and trace the events which unfolded between the ridge and the summit. Knowledgeable guides are available for informative tours. The summit of Spioenkop also offers one of the most breath-taking panoramic views of Kwa Zulu Natal. Guests can book battlefield tours with reception, please allow for a 24 hour booking period.
LADYSMITH SEIGE MUSEUM
Acclaimed as one of the best Anglo Boer War museums in South Africa, its displays on the famous Siege and Relief of Ladysmith have thrilled countless Boer War enthusiasts. Built in 1884 as a market house, it served as a ration post for civilians during the siege. The original flagstone floors and cast-iron pillars have been cleverly incorporated into the museum construction. This museum has a comprehensive display of memorabilia, maps, uniforms, relics and interpretive panels relating to the Siege of Ladysmith and the Anglo Boer War of 1899 to1902. Details of the Historical walkabout and drive about the town and surrounding areas are available here.
DAY TRIPS FROM OAKLANDS
NAMBITI GAME RESERVE
Nambiti is steadily becoming one of the best private game reserves in Africa; a vision driven by passionate, committed people with a deep love and respect for our heritage offering guests the finest game viewing in Africa and actively make meaningful contributions to conservation. Situated only 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Oaklands in the extraordinarily beautiful and diverse landscape of KwaZulu Natal, Nambiti Private Game Reserve is now one of Africa’s most exciting conservation initiatives.
Enjoy lunch at Cheetah Lodge followed by an afternoon game drive from 3:30pm – 6:30pm.
Daily game viewing trips can be arranged with reception, allow for a 24 hour booking period.
1 hour 20 minute drive
LIONS ALIVE SANCTUARY
Run by our friend, Andi Rive, Love Lions Alive Sanctuary is located a short 25 minute drive from Oaklands. The sanctuary is one of only a few places in South Africa where captive bred lions are safe for the rest of their lives. They also provide our lions with the opportunity to live their life with dignity in as close to natural environment as possible. They are not open to the public, but if you book at least a week in advance, you can have a tour with Andi or her one of her team. It is amazing to see these gorgeous animals.
25 minute drive
BASOTHO CULTURAL VILLAGE
Situated 10km from Phuthaditjhaba on the R712 to Golden Gate. This is a replication of a Basotho village and shows how the homes have changed over the past 2 centuries. You get to speak to the chief, sample the local beer and consult with the witchdoctor. You will also be entertained by traditional Basotho dancers and can shop at their curio shop. They have a selection of arts and crafts for sale. Open from 9am to 4pm daily.
1 hour drive
The village of Clarens is situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in close proximity to the Golden Gate National Park and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Clarens is an artist’s haven with many well-known artists either living in or frequenting the village on a regular basis with many art galleries scattered around the village square. The tranquil village ambiance combined with scenic views makes for the ideal day trip. Reception can provide you with a map.
1 ½ hour drive
THE DRAKENSBERG BOYS’ CHOIR SCHOOL
An internationally acclaimed choir trained in the Drakensberg. The boys range from grades 4 to 9 and have toured both nationally and internationally. They perform a wide range of music from classic choral work to modern arrangement and their African choral work and gumboot dancing is spell-binding. They have a loyal following at their weekly concerts on Wednesday at 3.30pm during term times.
1 hour 20 minute drive
The home of a wide variety of raptors, some of which have been rehabilitated after suffering from injuries. They have daily shows at 10.30 am (except Fridays) where you see these magnificent birds fly and feed off the wing. The show includes a presentation by the excellent handlers so you will learn about these magnificent birds in the beauty of the mountain surround
1 hour 20 minute drive
VALLEY BAKERY RESTAURANT
Stop over at the Valley Bakery for a delicious tea or lunch, their speciality being artisan handmade breads made with stone ground GMO free flour.
1 hour 15 minute drive
Guests are welcome to visit Ardmore Ceramics at Caversham in the KZN Midlands. Guided tours of this spectacular project can be arranged with reception, please allow for a 24 hour booking period.
1 hour 45 minute drive
We do hope to see you soon!
Annie, Caroline, Kathy & Simon