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the land of milk, arts... and mountain biking!

Lying comfortably at the bottom of the Drakensberg foothills, a fertile strip of rolling farmlands known colloquially as the Midlands is a hugely popular holiday destination. Having the advantage of being close to the mountains and to the N3, the Midlands offer the perfect middle-distance option for people who want a short break from big city life.

Originally the Midlands were comprised of large farms that were ideal for dairy and beef production, as well as horse breeding. This is due to the moist summers and concurrent excellent grazing, but the winters can be especially chilly with light snowfalls at least a few times a year. Historically it was only hardy folk that populated the Midlands, but nowadays it's become far more eclectic.

The rolling green hills, forestry, rivers and historical buildings make for a stunning setting and provided brilliant fodder for creative minds. In the 1970's many artists and crafters settled into the Midlands permanently, and by the mid-80's were working collaboratively to exhibit and sell their work. This small co-op grew organically to become the Midlands Meander: an easy to navigate, slowly unfolding tourist route that leads from cheesery to pottery to country restaurant to microbrewery and beyond…there are countless shops and farms to explore!

While the Midlands Meander is well-known these days for shopping and lazy lunches, many people are unaware of the areas mountain biking, trail running and hiking potential. The small town of Howick is home to an extensive network of single track linking to the Karkloof forest, while further out towards the lower Berg exceptional cross-country farm trails are on offer. Moving from Kamberg towards Lotheni and into Dargle and Balgowan, these areas make great mountain biking, trail running and hiking terrain.

Active Escapes offers a wide range of weekend getaways in the Midlands, combining the comfort of cosy cottages,B&B's, gourmet food, spa retreats and arty vibes with the quiet country roads and mountain passes perfect for outdoor pursuits.



  • The Karkloof Falls in full glory

    Take a hike to forgotten falls in the Karkloof, overnighting in old-world guest lodges with gourmet cooking & spa indulgences

  • Snuggling by the fire with a glass of red and your loved one, on a Lovers Weekend RetreatDARGLE RETREAT
    Curated trails through one of the oldest and best protected nature conservancies in the Midlands..the perfect family or couples getaway
  • mountain biking in the Karkoof in spring MTB MEANDER TOUR
    Cycling through private farmlands, forest and nature reserves – you’ll discover the real Midlands countryside of forgotten falls, valley vistas and wildlife.

Midlands Tour Packages


Mountain biking through the Dargle on a Midlands multi-day cycle tour

Country roads & flowing single-track

From country roads to downhill thrills, the Midlands offers a wide spectrum of riding terrain to interest all level of rider. Whether its mileage training in splendid surrounds, single-track delights, or a gentle ride through attractive farmland - stopping to visit deli's & art studios along the way - Active Escapes has a tour for you.

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flyfishing still waters on a dam in the Kamberg, near Nottingham Road

Relax as hard as you like

Come holiday in the Midlands, where things operate at a gentler pace. Tee-off at Gowrie, tempt a trout in the Kamberg, or take a ride on an Appaloosa. Hike through indigenous forests and mountain vlei's or cycle along quiet country roads, sampling cheeses and locally brewed ales along the way.

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Crowned Cranes are a regular visitor to the bird hides at the Karkloof Conservation Centre

Forgotten Falls, Fine Wine & Dining

Hike through giant yellowwood forests and mistbelt grasslands to the forgotten falls of the Karkloof, on our 3 day Midlands Slackpacker. The Karkloof Falls2Falls 3-day slack-packing hike is an all-inclusive trek encompassing some of the most picturesque and hidden parts of the Midlands countryside.
Highlights include traversing the forest canopy on a zip line tour, a visit to a world class bird hide with the chance to spot the critically-endangered Wattled Crane, and an indigenous tree trail with abundant wildlife including various birds, antelope, zebra, wildebeest and other game.

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Dargle Samango Trail »

take a picnic in the countryside with your loved one

Newly curated hiking trail

With daily hikes gentle in distance and gradient, this slackpacking trail is perfect for families, and those who prefer to take a little more time to smell the daisies. Overnighting at cosy country lodges with locally grown, home cooked meals, dams and rivers for cooling off enroute and picturesque picnic spots, the Dargle Trails are the Midlands best kept secret. Working closely with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s (EKZNW) Biodiversity Stewardship Program, 20 landowners from the Dargle and Lidgetton Valleys have partnered together to establish a provincial nature reserve. 10% of the proceeds from this hike go towards the Dargle Conservancy for ongoing projects.

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