The Cavern was originally a grazing farm but in the 1930’s it was bought by Walter Coventry after he resigned his post as Superintendent of the Natal National Park. He continued cattle ranching here and started a small guest house, accommodating mostly friends he had made over the years while running the Hostel at National Park.

In 1941, Judge Thrash bought the Cavern and employed Ruth and Bill Carte to run it. His emphasis was more in the ranching side. Since the grazing was sour veld, the ranching was unsuccessful and Ruth and Bill decided to buy the farm from the Judge, recognising its potential as a Guest house.

The Guest House could accommodate 15 people in thatched rondavels with separate ablution blocks. Bill started a quarry where, using his own explosives, he blasted sandstone for building. The blasted stone was transported to the main building site on a sleigh with oxen and later by Ford truck.

The farm supplied fresh produce for the guest house. Farm animals often confronted guests amongst the buildings. Life was not without its problems: There was no refrigeration for eleven years and meat was stored in a water cooler, jelly set in bowls carefully placed at the edge of the stream. A Pelton wheel, which was located in the Glen where you will now find the trampoline, provided minimal electric power to light the farm house. Bill installed a small diesel power generator, but only in 1976 was Eskom power available.

For many years the water runway down the mountain was the only water supply for the house. “Rhodesian Boilers”, (44 gallon oil drums suspended over an open fire) provided hot water to the rudimentary ablution blocks. Evening entertainment included games of wit and action, favourites being dumb charades and carpet bowls. The Saturday night dance was a highlight! A radiogram powered with an extension cable through the lounge window to a car battery was used for music.

High in the foothills of the Northern Drakensberg, surrounded by towering mountains, forests and streams is a unique family resort – The Cavern.

The Carte family has owned the Cavern for over sixty years and from the outset have given guests memorable family holidays – not just a stay at a good Hotel.

At The Cavern we appreciate that it is people who make your holiday – people with whom to laugh, share a drink, and participate in all the many fun activities.

Without obliging anyone to do anything, we encourage our guests to mix on outings and activities. Friendships form here and folk come back time and again – hence the slogan originated by our guests in 1958: “The resort of many happy returns”

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9 thoughts on “History of The Cavern

  1. My childhood holidays were spent at the Cavern. Those days were staying in a little bungalow with the bathroom around the corner. Hikes (with the dog Leo in tow)to sugar loaf & camels hump. Skinney dipping in the pool on top of the mountain. The best days of my life.

  2. My last holiday with my father and as a family was spent at your resort. Incredible memories. 20 years later and I plan to bring my daughter too 🙂 thank you for adding to my childhood in such a special way.

  3. Many thanks, Kelly. So many special memories shared in this amazing valley. We’d love to see you & your daughter…..
    All still happening here & new memories being made!
    Warmest regards,
    Megan Carte Bedingham

  4. We plan to come back to the Cavern in Feb.’15 My Swiss teenagers have never seen the Berg! My brother and I enjoyed countless happy sun filled hours on horse-back, swimming in the streams and eating very well! Our hightlight holiday of our childhood.
    We can hardly wait to come back.

    Carolyn and family, Zürich

  5. Spent many holidays at the Cavern – have fabulous memories! Am sending some photos for 75 Anniversay but needed to know the name of the Afrikaans family who with their team of oxen were often called upon to help pull out a car that got stuck in the flooded muddy drift on the road to the Cavern?

    1. Dear Lynette

      Thank you for your website enquiry .

      My colleague has sent you an email with the details about the family .

      Kind Regards,


      1. Many thanks for your quick response. Was so interested to read the origins of the Cannibal caves! As I told Sindi am sending an envelope containing some photos and comments for the Cavern’s Anniversary – wish I could be there too! Best wishes, Lyn

  6. Spent many a childhhod holiday at this wonderful place with my family and friends form Durban city health department in the 70’s and 80’s. These are the best memories of my life. Will definately come back one day when back in SA.

    1. We certainly look forward welcoming you back when you are in SA! The Cavern holds many wonderful childhood memories!

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