Boston, Dargle and Impendle have an incredible Community Tourism Organisation which was formed back in 2018 by owners and managers of a myriad of bed and breakfasts, cottages, hotels and farms partnering with the Impendle Municipality that now helps promote awareness to this spectacular part of The Midlands. If you are a tourist or local there is a wide variety of activities and establishments in the area that will cater to your needs and allow you to discover the best of what this area and its community has to offer.
Located on the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains, there are over 20 places as well as hundreds of beautiful species of wildlife and birdlife that call this place home. We have highlighted places that form the BDICTO and what they offer, from cafés to cottages, wedding venues to horse trails, horse riding to hiking – adventure awaits everyone.
Let us start with what seems to be the most important thing, which is the food and drink of course. Try the Pickle Pot Café, which is the tranquil “middle of nowhere” destination that travel-weary drivers look for around each corner whilst travelling the R617 between Howick and Bulwer. Scones and cream, sublime salads, homemade burgers, bunny chows, and all-day breakfasts, are some of the most popular menu options. The owner-manager is a connoisseur of homemade pickles, especially chilli recipes.
Children can delight in the adventure playground set alongside a bubbling stream and wetland, with catch and release fishing at the little bass dam and a hike through a mist-belt forest.
If you are not in the mood to cook while staying anywhere, you can simply walk to and from your accommodation at Mount Park Guest Farm’s The Bull & Speir Restaurant! Look out for the Friday night dinners, where you can expect good, old pub-style meals. They also cater for gatherings, whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner and they deliver!
Mount Park Guest Farm also offers great affordable accommodation, whether you’re a couple looking for a quiet getaway, a family needing to entertain the kids, or friends and family having the much anticipated holiday gathering or just those that value time spent in nature!
If it is affordable accommodation you are looking for, why not have a look at the self-catering cottages nestled throughout the BDI area?
Crab Apple is another beautiful venue offering Kilgobbin Forest Walks, a stunning wedding chapel and you can bring your pets along.
Le Bonne Vie on the banks of the uMngeni River, offers fully equipped and serviced accommodation. Their six sleeper, Weaver Cottage, has three en-suite bedrooms, with a focus on relaxation and comfort. Enjoy a braai on the veranda, a glass of wine by the fire, or hot chocolate by the fire pit. The recently renovated River View House has magnificent views of the uMngeni River.
The Boston T Party is a perfect spot if you need somewhere to stay or an authentic venue to hold your function. On the R617 between Howick and Underberg, is the little rustic backpackers accommodation and function venue with private en-suite rooms or camping with two fully equipped communal kitchens. Welcoming individual leisure guests to groups, backpackers, campers, bikers, and hikers.
Fine-Alley Country Cottage is situated below the slopes of the Inhlosane Mountain. They offer a private two-bedroom and two-bathroom cottage, overlooking the beautiful Dargle Valley. The cottage can sleep a maximum of six people with amenities that make you feel at home. The cottage is fully equipped and there is a sundries shop available for farm-fresh products, essential items that may be needed, and offer a shuttle service.
Beverley Country Cottages offers four spacious cottages and two comfortable bed-and-breakfast rooms that share the wide-open spaces in the picturesque Dargle Valley. Breakfast and dinners are available on request. All bedrooms are en-suite, and to cut the winter chill, crackling log fires ensure complete relaxation in the cosy lounges.
It was in 1847, that the Irish settler Thomas Fannin bought the land. Today the Kelly’s open their tranquil, pet-friendly lifestyle to those who prefer to journey along roads less travelled. Nguni cattle, noble horses, dogs, cats, and fowls, a tennis court, table tennis, and croquet on the front lawn, all add to the ambiance of this beautiful farm.
Boschberg Cottages rest on the banks of private fishing dams and have been around for at least 24 years. The tranquil surroundings and off-grid lodgings provide the perfect break from the bustle of modern life.
The cottages sleep six comfortably, have a fireplace and braai facilities, serviced on request, and will need a 4×4 or a high clearance vehicle to get to them.
Although the BDI is embellished with history, there are a few unique places where you can take a walk back in time and stay for a while. Old Furth Estate is nestled at the foot of Nhlosane Mountain. The main house was built in 1885 of local stone and is in lovely gardens with huge old trees and superb views.
The lodge was reconstructed from a ruin and local masons were brought in to dress the stone used for rebuilding. The lodge is comprehensively equipped and sleeps nine people. There is the main bedroom with a king-size bed and the loft bedroom sleeps seven. With a massive open-plan living space and kitchen, it is perfect for functions and events.
There are stunning walking trails on the Estate; forest walks with secret gazebos at glittering waterfalls, benches for the avid bird watchers, picnic spots with sublime views, Nhlosane to summit, dams, streams, and rivers to explore, plus a resident Nguni Stud herd and their Shire mares and Great Danes to chat to.
There is also Star Dam Estate where you can really savour the silence. It is set around a star-shaped dam with four luxurious and well-equipped self-catering lodges, offering a tranquil retreat for those needing to escape to reconnect with their families and friends, and experience Mother Nature at her best. With limited signal, it is the place to go when being quiet really matters.
Explore the hillsides or enjoy a relaxed ride on the lodge’s well-trained horses. Try your mountain-biking skills on the winding trails. Hire a boat and see if you can land a trout (catch and release), or just bob about with a book on the cool waters. At night, lie back and wonder at how many stars there are in the skies. If preferred, you may request no housekeeping services during your stay, so that it’s just you and your nearest and dearest.
The BDI also accommodates large groups of people and events like weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays that require the right venue. We must say, for a perfect country wedding the BDI steals the show.
Mount Park’s The Barn, is rustic, warm, and full of character, catering for all events and accommodating 120 guests. Dargle Forest Lodge and Wedding Venue is located in the pristine, open plains and woodland hills of the Dargle Valley, offering a glass chapel and a barn-inspired venue to seat 150 guests. An idyllic place to connect with your loved ones and celebrate surrounded by panoramic views.
Calderwood Hall also has a range of offerings, from wedding celebrations to anniversaries, from strategic planning sessions to family holidays enjoying local outdoor events, or just needing “time out” from city life. Their accommodation is graded as “AA Highly Recommended”, sleeping up to 82 guests on the Estate.
The Edwardian Calderwood Hall Manor has five luxury en-suite bedrooms, all exquisitely themed for guests to enjoy. Set in beautifully manicured gardens are 24 en-suite garden suites which are more suitable for larger groups. They are in the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg mountains near the tiny little Hamlet of Boston. All within an hour’s drive of Midmar Dam, Howick Falls, fishing, trails, walks, golfing, and paragliding.
Elvesida Guest Farm is situated on 100 acres in the beautiful Boston valley. They offer a range of accommodation for large groups of guests for birthdays, family reunions, and special occasions. They also have an alfresco shebeen available for guests to use for entertainment.
For the die-hard fisherman, Boschberg Cottages have dams that are stocked with rainbow trout, brown, and the elusive golden trout if you are lucky enough – catch and release is encouraged.
Copperleigh Trout Cottages is located in the upper Dargle area, and this highly rated establishment has beautiful views of Inhlosane Mountain. Both of their units overlook the trout-stocked Mavela dam. The dam is stocked annually by the Natal Fly Fishers Club, also with a catch and release policy.
They offer a kayak, which is great fun to paddle out on the dam, including well maintained walking trails on the farm. Kids love the open spaces to play and interact with farm animals: sheep, cattle, guinea pigs, bunnies, ducks and chicken. Lamb-Bert the friendly sheep is always ready to pose for a photo with the children!
Guests may see the majestic African fish eagle, rare wattled crane, blue crane, grey crowned crane, and sunbirds. There have been over 200 bird species documented in the Dargle area, so bring along your binoculars and bird book!
Everwood Estates, a working Brangus Stud Farm, also offers a sanctuary for fishermen with three stocked trout dams available. For others, there are perfect trail running and cycling routes as well as a lovely hike up the mountain.
Have fun at Stormy Hill horse trails. Take a ride on beautiful horses through amazing scenery. Exclusive horse rides taken by the owner through stunning farmland and forestry with the Stormy Hill dogs trotting along by your side. They offer various trail rides and tailors the ride to suit your riding ability whether it be beginner level or advanced.
The Tillietudlem Nature Reserve is a 2000 ha nature reserve situated in the Midlands, protecting one of the most threatened ecosystems in Africa – the mountain mist-belt grasslands. A visit will expose you to rich biodiversity, even during a short walk. You cannot help stumble across many of nature’s treasures here, from the largest of all antelope species, the gracious eland, to the delicate wild flora found along the banks of the streams.
Enjoy the views of Impendle Mountain from the deck at Maphanga Lodge, situated in the village of Impendle. Or support the informal tourism industry and experience rural homestays and local guides in the beautiful Nzinga area. There are opportunities for cross-cultural experiences, exploring rock art, local craft, tasting traditional lifestyles, and learning about agricultural and spiritual practises.