South Africa is full of many little known nooks and crannies of pristine natural beauty known only to the enlightened few. The Mount Sheba Lodge is one such gem of natural forest wilderness that has managed to survive the predatory axe of man despite being part of an area which has seen many attempts at exploration for gold. Wow! You may say as you embark on your steep descent into the riverine forest, maybe I will discover my crock of gold that was left behind inadvertently by the prospectors, long ago! If it is gold you are expecting to find alas! Then I am afraid you are likely to be disappointed but as a nature lover there are far greater treasures to be discovered adjoining the Lodge. If you are a tree lover then Mount Sheba will keep you in awe as each bend in a walking trail offers up hidden treasures of fine examples of trees such as the majestic Outeniqua Yellowwood and Knob thorn. The valley floor is lined with a web of crystal clear brooks that cascade down the mountainside and form tributaries of the larger boulder strewn streams which inevitably leap magnificent waterfalls thus providing plenty of food for your hungry camera. If you are a birder then Mount Sheba offers you a spectrum of more than 170 bird species including the beautiful Knysna Loerie and several of the sunbird species.

After a day soaking up what nature has to offer you, you can bask in the magnificent facilities that the lodge has to offer; from an innovative game of croquet played with iron mallets to all the amenities that you would expect from an international hotel group such a Forever Resorts. The ambiance of the hotel compliments the serenity of the unspoilt nature that surrounds it while the hotel offers an excellent a la carte menu every day of the week.

Trail description
There are 11 different hiking trails at Mount Sheba which can be walked individually or they can easily be combined to form longer trails. For instance the Samango trail combines well with the Marcos Mantle Trail to form The Percy Fitzpatrick Trail and the Gola Gola Trail similarly combines well with the Old diggings trail to form the Kearney trail.

It should be noted that the trails, although relatively short, can be regarded as difficult in places especially under wet conditions. Care needs to be taken at all times as the paths and rocks can be extremely slippery!


Accommodation
There are three options of accommodation types. Firstly there is the hotel which has a three-star rating but by rights should be considered four star and includes dinner bed and breakfast. The rooms are superbly appointed and serviced while the food offered is excellent!

The second option is self-catered fully equipped cottages.The third option is a camping site where you can pitch your tent. The site is un-serviced except that there is the use of nearby ablution facilities.

Location
Mount Sheba is located about 10km from the main road R533 from Lydenburg to Pilgrim’s Rest (Turnoff S24 53.244 E30 40.758). It should be noted that the road to Mount Sheba from the turnoff can be slippery when wet and care should be taken when driving this road at all times. Timber trucks from SAPPI use this road to harvest the adjoining plantations. – (c) 2017 NavWorld

About The Author

Tim Hartwright

Tim Hartwright is the owner of Jacana Travel Marketing & Reservations and also chairman of the Footprint Hiking Club and the Braamfontein Spruit Trust, an environmental organization concerned with monitoring the well-being of the public open spaces and parks in the suburbs of Johannesburg.

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