Misty Valley oozes serenity
If there's one thing I regret about my trip to Misty Valley Lodge it's not arriving there early. I swear it's one of the best places I've ever been to.
After a three-hour drive with my better half, who never stops to ask for directions even if he drives straight into the ocean, we took the right turn to Machadodorp.
Being an urban girl and all, I find one-horse towns creepy at night, so it did not help when we had to look for the lodge while driving on a road called Slaaihoek, completely covered in mist in the middle of the night.
We found Misty Valley Lodge 12km down the road. It's hard to miss because the lighting at the main gate invites you from miles away.
The drive from the main gate to the lodge, which cuts through a game farm, is 3km on a gravel road.
Misty Valley Lodge's a beautiful place. The lovely features and activities offered are a bonus to fresh air, peace of mind and seeing nature at its best.
I've heard of places where it's cold in November but I didn't expect it to be cold in Mpumalanga. Ralph, the very nice and enthusiastic manager, said it was because the lodge is on the top of a mountain.
He organised supper two hours after the restaurant had closed. A plate of lamb shank, mashed potatoes and vegetables had never tasted better. True hospitality. I wished we'd arrived earlier for the starter and dessert.
The lodge has 16 accommodation units, three lodge chalets, three lakeside chalets, four self-catering log cabins and six log cabins.
The chalets have a double bed, sleeper couch, fully equipped kitchen and fireplace. It's relaxed and not too fancy. After all, people go to places like these to experience the simple side of life.
The floors are wooden, the beds have wooden headboards, the TV is small and there's a mosquito net. It's perfect for making kids.
For those who already have them the lake-side chalets are double-storey units with two double and four single beds. They have fully equipped kitchens and a braai area overlooking the lake and mountains.
For the little brats there's a play area, tennis court, trampoline, swings, bikes and various other activities.
The best thing about being on open land is waking up in the morning and watching the sun slowly creep up from in between mountains before you are treated to a full breakfast on the deck.
We took advantage of the peaceful weekend by ordering a bottle of wine and drinking it while we relaxed in the jacuzzi. We skipped the pool and went straight to the sauna.
Seeing that I did not die that day I think I will live forever. Sauna and alcohol do not mix, I was told before I fainted on the bed. Forgive me. I am from KwaMashu.
After two hours of sleep, a can of Coke and a long bath I was well enough to go on a game drive with Keith, the marketing manager.
He knows everything, does everything perfectly and is a jol to be around.
Animals around the property include black wildebeest, blesbok, eland, zebras, springbok, oribi and jackals. Birds include bokmakierie, blue crane (an endangered species) and secretary birds.
Other activities include fly fishing, volleyball, canoes, darts, pool, table tennis, a heated indoor swimming pool, walking trails, bird-watching and karaoke evenings.
For conferences or team building exercises there are organised activities such as tai chi packages, climbing wall, arts and crafts weekends, mountain bikes, river tubing, kloofing and archery.
For wedding ceremonies Misty Valley offers a gazebo with roses lining the walkway, an indoor venue with a fireplace for the reception and delicious food from the Knight & Boar Restaurant and drinks at the Mad Dog In the Fog Pub.
Now for the best news. The lodge has introduced a "try-and-buy" special in which you book your leisure break at a discounted rate.
If you invest in the special, your accommodation bill is credited to your deposit so you have a free holiday.
I'll stop now. You'll have to find out the rest yourself.