Adventure into the Drakensberg at Gooderson Monks Cowl Golf Resort
There’s nothing quite like an adrenaline rush against the backdrop of the breath taking Drakensberg and the 260,000 hectare Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage site and Mdedelo wilderness area, writes Alice Zejglic.
Guests will find that, at Gooderson Monks Cowl Golf Resort, they can enjoy the magnificent and peaceful Champagne Valley with unforgettable views from virtually every window and every tee on the new 9-hole, 18-tee golf course.
Regarded as one of the Drakensberg’s top 10 courses, Gooderson Monks Cowl Golf Resort’s golf course is certainly one of the most scenic with views of the magnificent Champagne Valley – including Monks Cowl itself, which is between the towering Champagne Castle and Cathkin Mountains and took on its name because it resembles a cleric’s attire – from every tee.
The upgrade of the Monks Cowl course came shortly after the resort became part of the respected Gooderson Leisure Group. It wasn’t the well-known hospitality group’s first foray into golf – which means that Monks Cowl certainly benefited from experience gleaned at the extremely popular Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort, which is the Southern Drakensberg’s only 18 hole golf course.
Gooderson Monks Cowl Golf Resort has 36 rooms which sleep up to 4, and 8 new self-catering units that can accommodate families of four to six. Complete with two bedrooms, open kitchen, braai area, fire place, and TV lounge DSTV something for the whole family.
After a round of golf, guests can enjoy the substantial menu at the Friar Tuck Restaurant & Bar. After dinner, the bar crowd arrives to trade stories of the day’s play and for those that enjoy a hearty Sunday lunch – a buffet style feast is offered.
For those who don’t want to step up to the tee, there’s plenty of outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy. On site there is a spa, tennis, huge swimming pools, and kiddies facilities.
I recommend that would-be adventurers also use this opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and do something they’d never ordinarily have a chance to do!
Abseiling: It is just a 15 minute from the Monk’s Cowl office to the top of the abseiling site on Chicken Hill. Although regarded as one of the older adventure sports, abseiling is sure to provide an adrenaline rush as soon as adventurous guests step over the edge and take on the 25m drop. First, there’s an abseil down a 10m cliff face, then a short step over an overhang and abseil the remaining 15m hanging in the air. The good news is guests don’t need any previous abseiling experience and, because excursions take place in a controlled environment, it is completely safe.
Kloofing or Canyoning: Take a six to seven hour round trip to the Injisuthi Valley, the hidden gem of the Drakensberg in the rural area of Loskop. The hike up takes about an hour and is followed by a much quicker descent as guests abseil down a cascade of waterfalls.
White Water Kayaking: For the city slicker, taking on the rapids is a whole new experience. First timers are initiated in a local dam, which includes some basic paddling techniques and the infamous Eskimo roll – bailing out of the kayak should it overturn. From there, it’s the real thing. Beginners take on class 1-2 rapids. More experienced adventurers can venture into the surrounding rivers. I recommend the Injisuthi river which offers a half day of class 3-4 creeking.
White Water Tubing or Geckoing: The whole family can enjoy tubing down a 450m stretch of class 1 rapids on the Sterkspruit. This adventure experience takes place at Dragon’s Peak. Although the Sterkspruit is a low volume creek with a small catchment area, it has plenty of water in summer when rainfall is heavy.
Drakensberg Horse Trails: The Northern Drakensberg is perfect for experiencing the majesty of the mountains. Climb steep embankments, forge rivers and race over plains atop hardy mountain horses and ponies, whilst taking in the unspoilt scenery in the foothills of this world heritage site. Trails vary from gentle plains to steeper valley trails to suit all levels of confidence.
Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Centre: Guests duck as a fish eagle sweeps right over their heads, gaze upwards as a beautiful black eagle catches the thermals and marvel as an owl takes its prey from a gloved hand. The Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Centre in Champagne Valley is open every day apart from Friday. Shows highlight the power, speed and intelligence of our mysterious birds of prey.
Kiddies Adventure Park: Even the littlest adventurers enjoy the great outdoors. In the Drakensberg, there is a kiddies’ adventure park with a difference, which offers a 75m zip line, a 20m climb into a pine tree with a rope at the top for abseiling down again, kiddies’ quad biking around a track and paintball target shooting.
And after all this frenetic activity, if guests would like something a little more on the cultural side, they can head off to listen to the world famous Drakensberg Boys Choir. The choir plays to an auditorium filled to capacity on most Wednesdays during the year, presenting delightful melodies and complex rhythms and hitting the highest of notes as they take on everything from classical to jazz and foot tapping contemporary pop and rock.
For more information call Gooderson Leisure on: +27 (0)31 337 4222 or visit www.goodersonleisure.co.za