The highest mountain range in Southern Africa, with peaks that rise to 3,482 metres in height, the Drakensberg mountain range is an area of spectacular natural beauty. The mountains themselves span approximately 1,000 kilometres from southwest to northeast and meets Lesotho at its northeastern border. The San Bushmen rock paintings at Giants Castle are another highlight of the area and great for those looking to learn about the indigenous culture of the province. The same area also has some excellent hiking trails to fully appreciate the scenery and wildlife, which includes eland and majestic bearded vultures.
The dramatic outline of the jagged peaks has earned it the name ‘Barrier of Spears’ in local Zulu language, and it is often locally referred to as the ‘Berg’.
At the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains are Natal Midlands, which offer scenic beauty, rolling grasslands and an addictively sedate pace. Covering an area between the Pietermaritzburg, Estcourt and Greytown, the region has a varied past, from the Zulu kingdom to the colonial presence of the British in the 1850s.
The Royal Natal National Park is one of the natural highlights of the region and there is no shortage of activities to enjoy, from hiking the well-marked mountain trails to horse riding, climbing and fishing. Keep an eye open for the Lammergeyer vultures riding the thermals or black eagles soaring above your head! The focal point of the reserve is the immense and famous Drakensberg Amphitheatre – a rock wall of 5 kilometres in length and 500 metres in height. The Tugela River flows over this curving sheer wall for a quite dramatic spectacle in what is an area of stunning natural beauty.
The southernmost section of the ‘Berg’ is home to the Sani Pass, where a narrow dirt road ascends, zigzagging through the mountains and crossing into neighbouring Lesotho. Once this was a rough mule trail descending the Eastern Highlands of Basutoland into KwaZulu-Natal, but today you can venture with an experienced mountain guide to follow in the footprints of ancient tradition.
“THE REGION OFFERS EVERYTHING FOR THE VISITOR FROM SERIOUS HIKING IN THE MOUNTAINS TO GENTLE WALKS, PASSING THROUGH WOODED GLADES AND HAS APPEAL TO ANYONE FROM HIKERS TO FAMILIES.”