There’s something weird about the Drakensberg. Yes, of course it’s all beautiful green rolling hills, towering peaks, waterfalls and babbling streams… but there’s more to it than aesthetic value. It’s seriously quirky – and the more you read or hear about the Berg’s characters and history, the weirder it gets.
Take for example Elizabeth Klarer, who has the honour of not just being the first South African to claim to have been contacted by an extraterrestrial being, but one of a very select group of women to proudly declare that she did the deed with one of them, giving birth to half human, half alien baby called Ayling, who lives on Planet Meton in the Alpha Centauri star system. And where did this other-wordly union start? At the aptly-named Flying Saucer Hill in the Central Drakensberg, of course.
And it gets even stranger… absolutely nothing grows in the alleged Drakensberg site where Elizabeth’s alien lover parked his UFO more than half a century ago, despite the surrounding landscape’s verdant vegetation.
There’s got to be a logical, scientific explanation for it, says our host, Paul Brogan, who runs iKhayalamafu Mountain Hideaway and Private Nature Reserve in Monk’s Cowl, together with his wife, Ricky, making it clear that he’s a sceptic.
While they may have their doubts when it comes to Klarer’s supposed intergalactic love affair, the Brogans are rather intriguing themselves, having taken their home and hideaway completely off the grid. Electricity is sourced from solar and hydro-generation, with enough power to run lights, fridge, microwave and even the electric blankets. The water is pumped in fresh from the mountain streams and heated using solar geysers (with gas as a back-up).
The result is a lodge that offers a total sense of serenity and seclusion, completely cut off from the rest of the world (aside from the surprisingly speedy free Wifi on offer).
It’s so good, that we’ve been no less than three times.
With just two chalets, each sleeping two adults, you don’t have to share it with more than one other couple at a time (excluding Ricky and Paul). The Brogan’s land covers 95 hectares, and iKhayalamafu’s guests have free range of this, including exclusive access to completely private waterfalls and streams, far away from the public hiking routes.
The chalets are big – with an open-plan shower made for sharing, huge fireplace in the bedroom, and all the little extras that you probably forgot to pack, from shampoo to matches. The kitchen has a gas-stove and microwave, and is perfect for cooking dinner for two while sipping on red wine and listening to the Brogan’s selection of music on the old-school CD-player (I recommend the Best of Fleetwood Mac).
Days are best spent exploring the Berg – with hikes ranging from easy 30-minute strolls, to epic full-day options. A reasonable degree of fitness is definitely recommended, as iKhayalamafu is nestled in a valley, and the only way to hike is up. That being said, there’s a beautiful stream just a few minutes’ away from the cabins, so it’s easy to soak up the surroundings without attempting anything too strenuous.
Mid-week low-season rates start at R500 per person, and a minimum stay of two nights applies. For more information, see iKhayalamafu’s website here.