The Drakensberg is a 200km mountain range and World Heritage Site. It covers three provinces, from the Eastern Cape to Mpumalanga, with the largest portion of the area falling in KwaZulu-Natal. The Drakensberg Mountains are a wonderland of winter snow-capped peaks, waterfalls, rock art, and forests that ensure holidaymakers are spoiled with relentless scenic beauty. Complete your holiday with a heavenly Drakensberg accommodation to match.
Also named 'Ukhahlamba' (the Barrier of Spears) by the Zulu people and 'The Dragon Mountain' by the Dutch Voortrekkers, the Drakensberg is an awe-inspiring 243,000 hectare range of basalt cliffs and peaks towering over riverine bush and yellowwood forests, forming a formidable barrier between KwaZulu-Natal and the Kingdom of Lesotho. The only road access is via Sani Pass, along which Africa’s highest pub can be found at 2,874m above sea level. The mountains make for terrific sheer rock and ice- climbing, abseiling, white water rafting, and helicopter rides.
The Drakensberg boasts a wealth of biological diversity with 290 species of birds, 48 species of animals, and rare varieties of plants. Combined with over 4,000 ancient San rock paintings found in caves and cliff overhangs, the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park has been carefully preserved and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000.
The Northern and Central Drakensberg covers four valleys, each with their own character. They are Champagne Valley; Cathedral Peak and the Didima Valley; the Royal Natal National Park and Amphitheatre Valley; and “The Lost Valleyâ€ and Middledale Pass.
Although popular for its array of sporting activities, Champagne Valley is particularly famous for its many challenging golf courses. Some of the highest peaks can be found above nearby, such as Cathkin (3,149m) and Champagne Castle (3,248m).
The Cathedral Peak region boasts splendid scenery and challenging climbs. By venturing to the top of Mike’s Pass (accessible by 4x4), travellers can enjoy incredible views of the Central Drakensberg. Other attractions include Doreen Falls; Didima Resort and San Art Centre; the Mweni Cultural Centre, which provides trails and guides; and Rainbow Gorge to see two enormous boulders forming a striking wedge.
Giant’s Castle in the Central Drakensberg is particularly rich in San art. Worthwhile attractions here include Boer War Battlesites, the Cave Museum, and the Vulture Restaurant, which has a camouflaged hide where you can see birds of prey feeding.
The 8,000 hectare Royal Natal National Park in the Northern Drakensberg is arguably the most popular attraction. It features the world-famous Amphitheatre where for the length of 5km the mountain rises to a 1,220m sheer basalt cliff. Daring visitors can climb a chain ladder to the summit. Tourists can also visit Tugela Falls, which cascades down five drops and is the world’s second highest waterfall, and Cannibal Cave, where indigenous tribes resorted to cannibalism while hiding from the wrath of Shaka Zulu. Numerous walks and hiking trails can be enjoyed at all levels of fitness. Please note that tourists are encouraged to register their presence on the trails as the weather can quickly turn dangerous.