Winter Highland Holidays – Giant’s Castle

Just two days after we returned from Shingwedzi in the Kruger National Park (which we’ll be telling you all about soon, promise!), we headed back to Giant’s Castle in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park to pick up where we left off when we had to cut our trip in March short due to illness.

Part of the planning for our original trip was to spend a day visiting the crafters and speciality shops in the KZN Midlands between Mooi River and Howick along the R103-road, particularly to stock up on a variety of cheeses and other delights to enjoy in the evenings in front of the fireplace. With check-in at Giants Castle being only from 14:00 onwards, we decided for this return visit to then get the “shopping” out of the way first before heading to the reserve. An early (04:00am) start out of Pretoria allowed us to visit all the nice stalls and shops we wanted to, discover a few new ones and do some birdwatching along the Lower Loteni and Kamberg roads on the way before arriving at Giant’s Castle just after 16:00 in the evening (dusk comes really early in the ‘Berg in winter!).

We were allocated Chalet 26 for our 4 night stay, a 2-bedroom unit which is very privately situated and offers a spectacular view of the slumbering Giant that looms over the reserve named after it below.

In a scenically grand environment like you’ll find at Giant’s Castle there’s beautiful landscapes all around, making hiking an absolute joy and the reason why we spent so much time on the different trails (thankfully we had really good weather during our visit)

Of course, being one of South Africa’s oldest protected environments there’s no shortage of wildlife to be found at Giant’s Castle, even if it can often be easily overlooked in the grand environs they inhabit!

Horses and ponies are an invaluable tool to rangers in mountainous areas, and while they’re not indigenous these beautiful animals look very much at home in their highland abode.

The Drakensberg may not boast the richest variety of birdlife in South Africa, especially in winter, but we still had a great time bird-watching while out and about, and often the birds came to visit us while we were relaxing at the chalet.

We had a wonderful time at Giant’s Castle, and are incredibly grateful that we could return so soon. Along the most direct route, Giant’s Castle lies about 500km from our home in Pretoria, but with our four days in the mountains flying past unbelievably quickly we decided to prolong our return journey by taking a more scenic road over Oliviershoek Pass and through Golden Gate Highlands National Park (where our Autumn Highlands Holidays kicked off in March 2019).

 

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30 thoughts on “Winter Highland Holidays – Giant’s Castle

  1. naturebackin

    What a great collection of photos reflecting such a gem of a place. In winter it has a whole special character that your photos capture so well. (I particularly liked seeing the Dark-capped Bulbuls practically snuggled up together.)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thank you very much, Carol. The ‘Berg is such a special place and thanks to our latest visit to Giant’s Castle we can’t wait for our next visit – now to find a gap in our diaries to make that happen!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      We haven’t really had extreme cold yet this winter, AJ; the nights touch the zero mark but during the day we’re enjoying glorious sunshine – yesterday I went out in shorts and a t-shirt!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Joanne Sisco

    Your knowledge of the birds and wildlife never ceases to impress me – especially since you have so much variety!! This time you tossed a couple of new ones at us which I’ve never heard of before – the sugarbird and the mousebird. The poor mousebird in particular looked like she (he?) had been rudely woken up after a hard night ๐Ÿ˜†

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. T Ibara Photo

        Thank you for your kind reply. My husband and I dream of visiting someday. Weโ€™re keeping hope it will be sooner than later. In the meantime, I always look forward to learning more through your wonderful site.
        As always, best wishes to your family ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          We’ll be holding thumbs with you, Takami, so that you can come and visit soon! Until then it is wonderful to have you visit these places along with us. All the best to you as well.

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