A Drakensberg guesthouse

The Drakensberg

Accommodation in the Drakensberg

Drakensberg  information The majestic Drakensberg is the country's highest and most impressive mountain range rising to over 3 000 meters. Known to the Zulu people as Ukhahlamba, or 'Barrier of Spears', the Mountains of the Dragon provide a magnificent semi-circular border between KwaZulu-Natal and the inland mountain kingdom of Lesotho. The watershed of the basalt peaks divide the rains and snows, some flowing westwards over the alpine plateau of Lesotho towards the Atlantic Ocean, and some down the frequently vertical slopes into KwaZulu-Natal, towards the warm Indian Ocean. The Drakensberg Range is the source of the Tugela River, the largest river in the Province, and it plunges some 1950 meters over the edge of the Mont-aux-Sources Plateau in a spectacular waterfall. This waterfall, the Tugela Falls, is the second highest waterfall in the world.

The escarpment is frequently covered in snow in the winter months, transforming the area into a picture-postcard winter wonderland. Popular with hikers, rock climbers, trout fishermen, and other holidaymakers, the area offers a wide range of hotels, country lodges, and bed and breakfast accommodation venues, as well as camping sites and caravan parks. For the more adventurous there are also many trails which use caves up in the mountains as overnight stops. A weekend of hiking and climbing, interspersed with dips in the icy pools and rivers, goes a long way to restoring those weary of city life.

Most of the Drakensberg makes up the Natal Drakensberg Park, a wilderness area with an abundance of wildlife. Hikers are frequently surprised by bushbuck, oribi, mountain reedbuck, tiny duiker, and the largest of South Africaís antelope species, the eland, as well as many others. Enormous lammergeier, or bearded vultures, fly overhead and baboons bark from the cliffs. The spring is heralded by carpets of wild flowers and the pink and orange watsonia, like miniature gladioli, bloom thickly on the hillsides. In autumn the fields and lower reaches of the Drakensberg are often a waist-high sea of confetti-like pink, white and deep velvet red cosmos blossoms. In the higher reaches on the slopes of the Little Berg, varieties of protea trees show their prehistoric flowers, and ancient tree ferns and the odd cycad dot the gullies. Hikers should note that there are 24 species of snakes in these mountains, and not all of them are willing to give way to humans!

The mountains also contain thousands of Bushman painting sites, evidence of the small, primitive San people who practised a prehistoric life style in the area long ago. The earliest of these paintings are about 800 years old, and the golden age of the painters was between 400 and 200 years ago.

The young and vigorous may be anxious to demonstrate their climbing ability. The trout fishermen may have quite different ideas. The artist may be looking for something new to put on canvas. The tired businessman may merely be seeking relief from the heat and humidity of the coast. But all of them - the climber negotiating his difficult traverses, the fisherman casting his fly, the artist beside his easel, the tired business man dozing in the shade over his detective story - all of them will find refreshment and inspiration in these mountains (FN Broome).

The Drakensberg is divided into the following regions:
Region Major features
Northern Drakensberg 1. Mont-aux-Sources, Royal Natal National Park, Amphitheatre, Rugged Glen Nature Reserve
2. Singati Valley, Ifidi, Mnweni & Ntonjelana valleys, the Mnweni cutback, Mponjwane, the Saddle
Central Drakensberg 3. Mlambonja Wilderness Area, Cathedral Peak, Ndumeni, Organ Pipes, Ndedema Gorge
4. Mdedelelo Wilderness Area, Cathkin Peak, Monkís Cowl, Champagne Castle
5. Injasuti, Giantís Castle Game Reserve
Southern Drakensberg 6. Mkhomazi Wilderness Area, Loteni, Highmoor, Kamberg, Vergelegen, Sani Pass
7. Mzimkhulu Wilderness Area, Mzimkhulwana Nature Reserve, Garden Castle, Rhino, Bushmanís Nek, Giantís Cup Hiking Trail
8. Sehlabathebe National Park, Thomathu, Devilís Knuckles, Ramatseliso's Nek

 

Find out about the Antbear guesthouse overlooking the Central Drakensberg and Northern Drakensberg

 

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