What a fabulous place! This January (2013) we stayed for 5 wonderful days at Spion Kop and could have stayed much longer! The owners, the Heron Family (Raymond, Lynette, Hester and Alastair) are fabulous hosts and just couldnt do enough for us. We really felt 'at home'. The lodge rooms are fairly basic, very clean, spacious and have decent bathrooms. There is no specific menu for evening meals, but all the food we had during our stay was really good (including Raymond's barbeque - at special request from my father in law!!) and Lynette always checked that what food was planned was OK with us. Dont miss a drink in the Churchill Bar, and spend some time looking at the photos and other historical memorabilia. If you are interested in history, then this is the place for you, and even if you are not, dont miss Raymond's battlefield tours. Not only does he (and Alastair) have an encyclopaedic knowledge of events surrounding the Boer and Zulu wars, he is a great story-teller with a genuine enthusiasm for his vocation. He must have told the stories many times, but it really is just like he is telling you for the first time! Also, not to be missed is the sundowner game cruise. I say 'cruise', but without giving too much away, it did involve gin, tonic and 200 horsepower! Oh, and we did see some game aswell!!
Lynette and Hester kindly organised anything we wanted, including tours, packed lunches etc. The recommended Canopy Tour (across the treetops by multiple zip-wires) was fantastic - dont miss it! You dont need to be a super-fit action freak to do it - the hardest bit was the hilside climb back to the truck at the end, but you do need a reasonable head for heights, as some of the wires are several hundred feet above the ground! The horseback game ride in the adjacent game park was much better than we expected, although, as Michael the Guide rode up to the sleeping rhino, armed only with a small tree branch, we were all more than a bit nervous!
Spion Kop lodge is a great place to stay and exceptionally good value. The lodge itself is set in beautiful grounds and was the actual headquaters of General Buller at the time of the Battle of Spion Kop. The "Kop" at Liverpool Football Club (and other football grounds) gets its name from Spion Kop, and is regularly visited by many associated with the club. There are also some touching mementos to those tragically lost in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
Finally, to get a feel for the place, if you can get it, watch part two of Charlie Boorman's South African adventure (Demand 5), where he visits Spionkop. He and Raymond visit the hill-top battle site (on motorbikes of course!). Oh, and did I mention that as we returned from each trip we were greeted on the lawn with refreshing "welcome back" drinks? What more could you ask for!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Surrounded by low hills that slope up to the towering peaks of the Drakensberg and Free State Mountains. Spion Kop Lodge is the ideal place from where to explore the battlefields, set on an echo farm in Kwazulu-Natal. General Buller’s headquarters during the relief of the Ladysmith campaign, Mount Alice, is located on the farm. The beautifully restored, 8 bedroomed colonial-style farmhouse, is set in tranquil, secure grounds with superb views. Added to this there are two cottages, offering self-catering accommodation in an out-of-Africa setting. There is a library with an excellent collection of historical books, a dining room, cozy pub and a swimming pool. The owner and registered guide, Raymond Heron (F.R.G.S), guides guests to the many historic Battlefield sites, as does his son Alastair. We have 250 different bird species, hiking on the property and Sunset Boat Cruises and horse riding amongst the rhino, giraffe and various other animals. "Arrive as guests, leave as friends." ... more less
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