The Cavern celebrates over 80 years of Many Happy Returns in the Northern Drakensberg, KZN. It is set in a pristine valley adjacent to the Amphitheatre World Heritage Site, just 3 hours from Durban and 3.5 hours from Gauteng making it the perfect meeting place. This full-board family resort nestled beneath the sandstone cliffs of the little berg, surrounded by forests and berg streams, steeped in history, offers an escape for families and friends.
The Cavern’s story began with a letter. In his letter proposing, Bill Carte wrote, ‘Ruth, my darling, I plea as never before: Put your trust in me, marry me and be my mate in building a home and a farm second-to-none in South Africa’. And so, Ruth & Bill Carte arrived in this remote part of the Drakensberg in 1941 initially to rear cattle for Judge Thrash. The terrain was no good and the veld was sour and the Judge decided to sell but Ruth saw the potential of running it as a small guest farm. Ruth borrowed money from an uncle, they bought the farm and so began the building of a dream.
In the 1940s, The Cavern could accommodate twelve people in the main sandstone house and out-buildings. The kitchen was supplied by fresh farm produce. Meals were simple: Bread was homemade, milk, cream and eggs were collected and fruit and vegetables came mostly from the gardens. Sadly after 13 short years of marriage, Bill died of cancer but Ruth, determined and steadfast, continued the building of their dream.
They had blasted cliffs, chiselled rocks and built from the surrounds and this fortitude and resilience allowed Ruth to continue to build Bill’s vision; ‘Our work is… to create beauty, to make the land more fertile, to make our living, to leave the world better than when we first came into it.’
In the 1970s Ruth’s sons, Peter & Anthony, joined her and together with their wives, they built The Cavern into a thriving berg resort where holidays were about climbing mountains, afternoons of sport and family activities in the evenings. The Cavern is now run by the 3rd generation, Megan, Hilton & Lesley.
Cavern holidays are about reconnecting. It is where families bond, friendships are formed and memories are made. It is a tucked-away romantic escape for couples, a retreat for quiet and solitude, and a child-friendly resort with fun activities. There are canoes on the dam, an exciting and secure playground in the garden and the kiddies dining area is staffed with nannies to assist during meals times.
The Cavern is blessed with some of the most magnificent walking and hiking trails in the region. There are easy ones for young families as well as informative nature walks through dense fern forests, including one to a cave which echoes and another to a cave where cannibals once lived. Highlights include day hikes to the Tugela Gorge, ascending the Ampitheatre and having lunch at the top of the falls or being challenged by the Big5Hike.
The Forest Retreat Spa is the ideal spot to unwind. The peaceful surrounds, the competent team, the organic range of products and relaxing treatments leaves the weary truly restored.
The Cavern has standard or superior accommodation. The superior rooms and suites are located overlooking the Fern Forest while the standard accommodation is set around the main building in vibrant gardens with a magnitude of birdlife and Drakensberg flora. All meals are included and the food is wholesome and plentiful. Tea is served in the morning and afternoon and sundowners can be enjoyed on the many decks overlooking the valley below.
The Cavern provides a wonderful escape to recharge and renew. This is the great outdoors!