As a Family Travel Blogger, we’re always on the lookout for places to stay that cater for the entire family. And, even though there are just the three of us, Man, Man Cub and myself, we all have very different interests. The Man is fishing OBSESSED and…he digs his braais too. The Man Cub loves exploring, hunting for treasure and bugs! Me, myself and I…well, I love a quiet spot where I can read a book, sip on a glass of wine and, nothing beats an afternoon stroll or drive with the possibility of seeing some wildlife. But you see, here’s the thing, we also have to pay the bills and that means there’s a day job. Yes, travel bloggers or, at least most of us still have to work a normal day job. That’s why we’re often on the lookout for places to stay in our beautiful province of KwaZulu Natal. We are really lucky to have so many great venues, activities, things to do and places to explore right here in KZN. And, one of those places set in the KZN Midlands is… (drumroll)… Bellwood Cottages and Wedding Venue. Booking We were a bit naughty and this is ABSOLUTELY not the way to make your next holiday booking but, we contacted Bellwood Cottages on their Instagram page. There was some laziness on our part that contributed to this unusual reach-out but, we got a quick reply and were advised that they were nearly fully booked but that they did have the Heron cottage which sleeps 16 available. Uuuhhmm… there are only three of us. Perhaps when they read that Taryn of African Travel Bird is Family Travel Blogger they thought I was coming with the whole crew. Now, I am the youngest of 7 children (poor parents) but, my travel 7 missing this chance to stay at Bellwood Cottage and jumped at the opportunity. Our booking was sent to us on email and all the necessary was confirmed for a visit to Bellwood Cottages and a Midlands Meander. Family getaway, here we come! The road there From Durban we took the N3 past Pietermaritzburg and past Howick (which is the quaint town home to Howick Falls or… KwaNogqaza as it is also known which means ‘place of the tall one’). We made our way past Midmar Dam which was in full flow and we thought ourselves clever and even did an artsy smartsy video on this (check out our YouTube page). From there, we took exit 132 which is opposite the The Windmill Ultra Stop, Brahman Hills Wedding Venue and Linga Lapa Coffee shop, making our way towards Fort Nottingham Road. There is so much to see and do on this route that we’ve started making a list of ‘where-to-next’. There is no way that you can fully explore the area in only a weekend. Fellow family travel bloggers, start adding this route to your list! It was a quick 1hr and 30 minute drive which gave us some time to pop into the local spar and pick up some braai goodies and…maybe some juice that Bacchus would approve of from the Tops. Okay, I know a store is not usually included in Travel Blogs and our Spar here in South Africa is not what you would normally write home about BUT this Spar is amazing! Could explore the aisles for days! They really do take ‘supporting local’ to the next level and had we found ourselves perusing all the locally made crafts and eats with some Dargle meats being added to the trolley. Bean purchased a home-made pizza from the frozen foods section naturally. If you’ve read our ramblings on our previous Travel Blogs, you’ll know that we have a child that is a huge pizza fan. Oops, detour. So, back to Bellwood Cottages. We arrived just before sunset as came directly from work and with our stop at the BEST Spar in the world we were too late for reception. But, Bellwood had made arrangements for someone to open for us when we arrived. Time to unpack and unwind. Now we’re here… We dutifully unpacked and the Man and Man Cub got working on starting the fires. There is an indoor fire place as well as outside braai area. It wasn’t too chilly but what’s a family vacation without a braai. This Travel Blogger’s family prefer only braai’ing when we escape for the weekend. The cottages do have heating blankets on all the beds so when that colder weather sets in, you’ll be toasty warm. While I was busy prepping the meal for the evening, Man Cub explored the cottage which had three bedrooms downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs (one being a huge room with so many beds we lost count). If you are traveling with your extended family or friends, this is the ideal place for a family holiday as not only do you have the space to sleep everyone, the rest of the cottage is well appointed for a large crowd as well. The kitchen itself had all the necessary crockery and cutlery for a big family trip and when you’re traveling with kids, you don’t want to be washing dishes all the time…you want to spend your time with your loved ones. They do have a cleaning service that comes in every morning as well so absolutely NO dishes to do. The rest of the evening or, what was left of it was spent outside on the wide veranda, enjoying the sounds of nature and of course…enjoying the sounds of wood crackling on the fire. You’re supplied with ample wood which lasted us the entire weekend but you are able to buy more from the main reception area if you run out and it is only R120 for a HUGE bag of wood. Day 2 We woke up to a magnificent view. With Heron Cottage being right on the dam, we had left all the curtains pulled back as didn’t want to miss the views when we woke up. We’re awake now… so might as well get the day started. Breakfast was made and the men headed out for a quick fishing expedition. On their return, we decided to explore the area. This really is a family friendly location and when traveling with kids, it can be hard to keep those young ones occupied. Bellwood Cottages seem to have catered for everything and even had an Enchanted Forest which the Man Cub and I explored. We must have walked the Bellwood Farm area for 2hrs and still only managed to cover only a quarter of it. The Man Cub enjoys taking photos of creatures and was in his element, even spotting a wasp making a nest for her young in a moth. Bit gruesome but meh….boys. We visited the horse stables, the chapel (yes, Bellwood Cottages has a beautiful chapel and with so many cottages able to sleep larger numbers, it really is an ideal wedding venue as well as the best holiday destination when traveling with children), we even explored the farming side of things and the John Deere tractor which was used as a resting point at one stage. Getting back to our cottage the legs were feeling a bit tired but surprisingly we were feeling quite refreshed, must be all the fresh air. Each cottage has its own paddling boat and the youngest of our travel group took to the waters paddling up and down. Why? I can’t say but he seemed to enjoy it. Traveling with children means you just have to let them go a little wild sometimes. Of course, the day was ended with a sip of wine and a braai. And so we unwind Sadly, our family travel story comes to an end at Bellwood Cottages and Wedding Venue but when you have a young person who likes exploring just as much as we do and who absolutely loved Bellwood Cottages, we don’t think this will be the last time we visit here and, when traveling with children… you’ve got to let them pick the destination sometimes. The Man Cub gave this child friendly holiday destination a solid 10 out of 10. #AfricanTravelBird RATING: 10 out of 10 Pros Wood supplied Caters for large family groups Ideal family destination Child Friendly Spectacular views Serviced daily TV and Hotel DSTV Boquet Self-catering with a well-appointed kitchen Coffee and tea supplied Electric blankets for those cold winter months Braai facilities Great wedding venue Chapel on site Beautiful setting Abundance of birdlife Excellent service Eco-Conscious and all units have recycling bins Cons Absolutely none that we can think of. Activities Birding Trout Fishing Beautiful garden walks Enchanted Forest Walk Midlands Meander Unique points of interest Picnics Wedding Venue Fort Nottingham Road Conference Centre…
If you are looking for a relaxed time with your family, Bellwood is the place to be. With spacious accommodation, gorgeous scenery and lovely staff, i would highly recommend that you book your stay at Bellwood Cottages. Not to mention the wedding venue - if a fairytale wedding experience is what you are wanting, do not look any further. Bellwood is absolutely breathtaking!! You will not be disappointed.
Stunning location, and the houses are wonderfully kept. I received amazing service when I forgot my pillow behind, they responded straight away and kept it safe for over 3 weeks until I could come and fetch it.
We stayed in the Kingfisher cottage at Bellwood over Summer and had an amazing time. It was awesome to be able to have a braai on the balcony whilst watching the kids play in playground. The dam also kept the kids occupied for hours - swimming and rowing the boats around! The cottages were very well equipped for our large family gathering and the staff very welcoming and helpful with any queries we had.
My family and I travelled to Bellwood in December and had the most incredible time. We stayed in a cottage next to the dam which was immaculately clean and equipped with everything you could possibly need for a comfortable stay. The grounds are absolutely stunning, with so many beautiful places to wander and explore. Also very close town for shopping and meandering! The owners also went above and beyond for us during our stay (even delivering shortbread and crackers for us for Christmas Day!) Bellwood is definitely a place that is a little slice of heaven away from the hustle and bustle - we will definitely be back!!