Turn off the N3 from Johannesburg to Durban somewhere between Harrismith and Estcourt, then follow the rural road for about 15km, turn left on the gravel road that goes straight through the little village (watch out for the cows, goats and kids!), then turn left through the rusty gate and continue until the end of the path. There you will find a hidden gem (pun intended) called Three Tree Hill. When you step out of the car, you will be greeted by a menagerie of dogs, kids, the management couple and their staff, all with a smile on their face (or in the case of the four-legged members, a happy bark and a lick!). You instantly feel the stresses and worries of everyday life melt away as you are treated to a welcome drink on the stoep overlooking the nearby nature reserve.
The lodge was built by the legendary battlefields expert David Rattray in simple, colonial style and you feel like you have been transported back in time as you browse through a book and sip a gin & tonic on one of the comfy sofas in the living room which is filled with treasures from a bygone era.
Three Tree Hills is a perfect basecamp for those that want to explore the Drakensberg and the battlefields, but it is also a place to just arrive at and BE. The only reason that I could be persuaded to leave our beautifully decorated, comfortable room with its breathtaking view was the temptation of soaking up the fresh air and enjoying the lovely nature reserve on the lodge’s doorstep. I went for a horse ride, and we were also treated to a game walk with the knowledgeable and chatty owner, Simon, where we saw various antelopes, giraffe, zebra and rhino to mention a few. Simon also does guided tours of the nearby battlefields, and is a wealth of knowledge about everything South Africa, from history to wildlife (and he’ll engage you in a lively discussion on politics if you are not careful!).
The lodge caters all your meals, and you can expect simple, home cooked food made with local ingredients and a good dose of love. If you are venturing out, they can also provide you with a packed lunch, but trust me: each meal is in its own well-worth staying in for!