Imagine lush green meadows, flowing flower fields, raptors soaring in the sky and gushing waterfalls set against a backdrop of jagged 3,000m (9,840 ft) peaks. That’s the Drakensberg for you.
The Northern and Central Drakensberg has some of the most beautiful scenery that can be imagined. The area falls into four valleys, beginning with the Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg, through the Cathedral Peak and Didima Valley, then the Royal Natal National Park and Amphitheatre Valley, and finally the Middledale Pass Valley in the Northern Drakensberg. Each of the four valleys has its own kind of beauty and character; all have magnificent mountain views.
The Drakensberg’s Royal Natal National Park has, without a doubt, some of the most majestic mountain scenery in South Africa. A highlight is the iconic Amphitheatre, a dramatic rock wall that curves for approximately five km in length and rises over 500 m high. With spectacular scenery and fantastic hiking trails, this is a hiker’s paradise.
Also popular is the Giant’s Castle Reserve situated within the Central Drakensberg region. First established in the 1900s to protect dwindling Eland antelope, the Game Reserve today has splendid herds of Eland and Mountain Reedbuck and is also home to the rare Bearded Vulture. The area is steeped in history and is one of the world’s best archaeological sites when it comes to the preservation of San rock art. The Main Caves Museum is well worth a visit to learn more about the past lifestyle of the San people.
With the mountains being preserved as a recreational wilderness area, outdoor activities are abound. Hike to some Rock Art sights or the Tugela Falls (the world’s second-highest waterfall) or treat yourself on a helicopter flight over the Drakensberg to view this wonder of creation from the air. Partake in some of the many laid out hikes, scenic walks or explore by horseback or scenic road trip. Birding enthusiasts will not be disappointed as the Drakensberg is heaven for both birds and birdwatchers.
Being closest to the coast and major cities, the Southern Drakensberg is easily accessible from Durban and has its own majestic mountains to boast with. Several smaller nature reserves and challenging hikes, such as the Giant’s Cup Trail from Sani Pass to Bushmens Neck, await the more adventurous traveller.
The Southern Drakensberg can easily be combined with the wildlife areas of Natal like Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, Mkuze and Pongola Game Reserves, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and a host of private reserves with astonishing wildlife.
For more information about Sani Pass, please take a look at our Lesotho page.