Testing bravery at Hot Springs in Natal

2017-02-12 06:01 - Zinhle Mapumulo
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jump for joy The resort is a great place for the whole family PHOTO:

After being told that my faint heart wouldn’t be able to survive the suicidal water slide at the Gooderson Natal Spa Hot Springs & Leisure Resort, I was certain that my daughter had grown and become brave.

You see, the Azania (11) I know is a scaredy-cat. She wouldn’t sleep in her room unless a harmless creepy-crawly was crushed and thrown out. So I was surprised by her constant jabs about that water slide.

“It’s not for the faint-hearted like you, Mom. You must allow us, the pros, to show you how it’s done,” she said, as we prepared for the holiday.

The day of our trip finally came and she woke me up at 5am, saying she was ready and I was delaying her and her cousin, Mandisa (14), who were eagerly looking forward to a weekend of fun and games.

The four-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg to Paulpietersburg seemed unending for the girls, who took brief naps when not fighting over what we should be listening to or asking the rhetorical question, “Are we there yet?” How could we be there when we were still driving in the middle of nowhere?

Somehow I understood their frustration; there’s not much human development along the N17 towards Swaziland. If you’re not into appreciating Mother Nature’s handiwork as I do, the trip can be long and boring.

When we finally got there, the girls were the first to jump out of the car, leaving their bags. Like, really?

Something for everyone

We found them at the welcome area, harassing one of the receptionists about how they could get to the water slide, which, to their utter disappointment, was under maintenance. So there was no need for me to take up Azania on the “faint-heart challenge”. God works in mysterious ways, I know.

Imagine me and my not-so-thin body, sliding on a 45m-long high-speed tube and then plunging into a 2m-deep pool. That would have been hilarious.

But that’s what resorts are all about – family fun. There’s everything for everybody to do and enjoy.

The Gooderson Natal Spa Hot Springs & Leisure Resort is famous for its hot mineral waters that rise up along fault fissures and are heated at the source to between 36°C and 45°C. These “triple waters” contain healing chlorides, sulphates and carbonates, which allegedly help relieve a number of ailments and allergies that are often symptomatic of the stresses and strains of modern-day living.

I had a soak in one of the hot spring pools and it worked wonders for my aching feet. I’m not sure if it’s because I was told that the waters had stress-relieving powers, but I recommend it to everyone who visits the resort.

Heineken the horse

If enjoying thermal waters doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are more contemporary attractions like birdwatching tours, mountain and quad biking, fishing, archery, paintballing and horse riding. For Azania, horse riding was an especially humbling experience; funny, seeing as she was the one teasing me about my allegedly faint heart. We had to shorten our one-hour horse riding adventure because she was scared of the horse. She was trembling and sobbing as Bab’ uAce Mbuyisa helped her on to her dwarfed horse.

If it wasn’t for Mbuyisa, who managed to calm Azania down and convince her that horses were harmless, we would have gone back without doing an activity that she had put down as a must-do during the vacation.

When she was finished with her drama, we set off on the trail until we reached the top of the mountain overlooking the picturesque Bivane River. By then Azania and her horse, Heineken, were friends – thanks to Mbuyisa who rode next to her just so she could be comfortable. She was now shouting at Windhoek, Castle and Hansa (the other horses) to hurry up as we made our way back to the resort.

The day’s activities, which began with archery followed by quad biking and horse riding, left us exhausted and the scorching sun had not helped either. Although the cold pools next to the water slide had provided a relaxing experience. We ended our day with a sumptuous farm-style dinner on the terrace.

As expected, Mandisa was on Azania’s case the following day about how she had sobbed and begged me to cancel the horse riding. The little diva had an answer for her earlier escapade: “I wasn’t scared; I just wasn’t feeling the horse they gave me.”

Mapumulo was a guest of Gooderson Natal Spa Hot Springs & Leisure Resort. Rates range from R750 per person sharing to R1 900 for the honeymoon suite. For more info, visit their website

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