[Family Day at Makaranga – Review]

A visit to Makaranga Garden Lodge in Kloof has been on my bucket list of things to do in Durban, for like forever. I’ve been up there for client functions in the past, but never just to chill and take in the botanical gardens and stunning landscapes with my family.

We decided to do so just before heading back to work from our Christmas holiday at the turn of the year.

The verdict? It’s absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful, with so much open space for kids to run relatively wild. However, we found it just a little stiff and starchy (compared to the super relaxed vibe of Durban’s Botanic Gardens) and really felt as if we couldn’t fully relax while there.

Here’s why…

The minute we walked into the foyer with my husband’s extended family, alarm bells must have started ringing for the reception staff because they were giving off “uh oh, trouble has arrived” kinda vibes. Did we look troublesome? I don’t know.

“Can we help you?” said one woman while definitely sizing us up and down. I replied that we were there to relax in the gardens. She asked if we’d booked ahead, because apparently you can’t just stroll in and occupy a space for picnicking. I informed her that we’d spoken to a lady that morning and ordered a few pizzas for a picnic in the gardens, because the restaurant had been fully booked. The lady in question then arrived and nervously confirmed that yes, that was the case.

Husband was carrying Ryder’s plastic bike, which they politely asked us to leave at the front desk because they weren’t allowed on the premises. Fair enough.

Then they spotted our picnic basket which had a small sun umbrella and a fold-up kiddie chair for Ryder in it. We were asked to return both to our car. They’re also not allowed on the premises. Wow. But OK, it makes sense because it’s a privately owned garden and it must take such extreme measures to keep it looking as pristine as it does.

By then we were already feeling a little tense as we made our way down into the pool area. It’s stunning down there, with a rock pool which the kids were having a whale of a time in. We decided to venture deeper into the gardens instead, especially because I’d forgotten to pack towels so swimming was out of the question.

As we left the pool area, a man on a golf cart came along and told us that the soft beach ball we were carrying for Ryder could only be played with in the pool area and nowhere else in the garden. Flippen hell. The fun police were really out in full swing. We noted that and went on our merry way, feeling a bit more tense but still in high spirits.

I don’t need to bore you by waxing lyrical about the beauty of Makaranga’s open spaces (which we still enjoyed despite the tension of Golf Cart Man repeatedly zipping past to keep a check on everybody). Its beauty is well documented. There are stunning ponds and statues and stone fixtures. There’s a timber play set-up for kiddies. There are eight different garden environments,including a woodland, Japanese Garden, a Zen-inspiring maze and a cycad bed. It’s incredibly picturesque, as these pics clearly show. But in a nutshell, it’s probably not everybody’s cup of tea, especially if you’re looking to let loose and toss around a ball, chase after a toddler on a bike and lap up the sunshine under an umbrella somewhere.

Let me say, however, that the pizza they serve is undoubtedly some of the best I have ever tasted, dripping with mozzarella and just absolutely mouthwatering. If that’s an indication of the rest of the food, then you can’t go wrong ordering from them.

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • You cannot take your own eats or drinks into Makaranga.
  • You need to either book ahead for lunch in the Nonna restaurant, or alternatively book a picnic basket or some kind of eats from the deli.
  • If you don’t book from their menu, you will pay R60 per car for parking.
  • Not allowed: umbrellas, balls, chairs, bikes, large toys, outside food or drinks, etc. Basically walk in with the clothes on your back and the wallet in your hand, and you’ll be fine.

Contact Makaranga:
Telephone: +27 (0)31 764 6616 
Email: info@makaranga.com 
Address: No 1A Igwababa Road, Kloof, 3610, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 
GPS Co-ordinates: 29°47’28.76″S; 30°49’06.75″E 

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