Drakensberg

Great Escarpment of South Africa

The Drakensberg Mountains, which is the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment of the central Southern African plateau, is known as a majestic playground in South Africa. Located in KwaZulu-Natal, the Drakensberg is a well-known and beloved maze of rugged beauty, suited to both the adventurer and the historian.

©Roger de la Harpe
The Amphitheatre in uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.

With ancient Bushman paintings in long-used caves, Boer war relics and accessible climbing peaks, the Drakensberg has it all. In the perceptual process of creation, the principal tools of nature have always been water, temperature and wind. There are numerous peaks, pinnacles, towers, spires, domes and walls to explore, with guided tours and multi-day adventures on offer throughout the area.

Holidaymakers wanting to escape into the natural wonder of South Africa need not look further than the Drakensberg. The area has several parks, nature reserves and rest camps made to meet the needs of any and all travelers. Whether visitors are on a romantic getaway, road tripping with friends, embarking on a solo adventure, or bringing the family along, accommodation in the Drakensberg promises to offer comfort tailored to the guests' needs.

A Drakensberg Story

The first people we know of to have inhabited the valleys round the base of Mdedelelo in the Drakensberg were Bushmen, then the amaZizi, who were scattered during the reigns of terror in the early 1820s....more

Animals of the Drakensberg

The first animals of the Drakensberg were mammal-like reptiles, creatures that predated the true dinosaurs by tens of millions of years, like the massive, lumbering Melanosaurus or the fleet-footed sharp-toothed Massospondylus...more

Birds of the Drakensberg

Forget about the things that grovel on the ground and lift your eyes to the heavens, from whence cometh the most beautiful sights of the mountains - the birds....more

Drakensberg 'Cannibal Cave'

Following the ravages of the impis of Shaka other warlords, the whole Drakensberg area was decimated. This occured in the 1820s and 30s, and when the Voortrekkers reached KwaZulu-Natal they claimed they found no settlements from the mountains to the sea....more

Drakensberg Back in the Day

Even before the Dutch settled at the Cape, the Drakensberg mountains had been identified by other explorers. In 1593 the Portuguese ship Santo Alberto was bound for home from Cochin, with a rich cargo....more

Drakensberg Escarpment

One of the most significant events in the planet's geological past was when supercontinent Gondwana broke up and Africa drifted southwards....more

Drakensberg Rock Art

One of the Drakensberg's greatest treasures its cultural heritage. In Ndedema Gorge 3 900 paintings have been recorded at 17 sites....more

Drakensberg: UNESCO World Heritage Site

uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is one of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa with a mixed classification - due to its natural and cultural components....more

Drakensberg's Bushmen Mountains

A name by which the Drakensberg's southernmost mountain is known as the Three Bushmen. Sehlaba-Thebe aptly means 'the shield', as the park is a plateau, raised on a three-sided pedestal of sandstone cliffs, called the Little Berg....more

Early Conquerors of the Drakensberg

The route up to Champagne Castle is, in climbing terms, a doddle, but hikers know it as the exhausting Gray's Pass which was first done in 1861. It was done officially as a route by the formidable Stocker brothers only in 1888....more

Flora of the Drakensberg

The flora of the Drakensberg is broadly described as being Afro-montane in the Little Berg foothills and Afro-alpine on the summit. On a local scale the vegetation is affected mainly by altitude (height) and attitude (angle to the sun)....more

Geology and Topography of the Drakensberg

The geological composition of the Drakensberg is fairly simple to comprehend it's the time scale that's difficult to grasp. The escarpment and high peaks are the capping atop numerous horizontal layers of the Karoo Supergroup...more

George Thompson of the Drakensberg

Only a wagon track ran up the Mlambonja Valley back in the day, and everything one needed for the building had to be carried up from the railhead at Winterton. While the first stone buildings were being laid, the Second World War broke out....more

Giant's Castle Valley

Giant’s Castle Camp rivals Thendele for its spectacular location above the Bushman’s River and hemmed in by daunting peaks....more

Great Families of the Drakensberg

Up to 1910 the Mlambonja, Didima and eMhlawazini valleys and all the valleys lying between Cathedral and Cathkin peaks were little known to white settlers....more

Lammergeiers of the Drakensberg

The mountain is appropriately called Thaba Ntsu, the Mountain of the Lammergeier, for this high-land wilderness is the subcontinent's only remaining sanctuary of the lammergeier, or bearded vulture....more

Langalibalele Pass in the Drakensberg

Mthethwa Langalibalele, whose surname means 'the sun is boiling hot', was chief of the 10000-strong Hlubi tribe who lived peacefully in the Bushman's River Valley at the base of the Drakensberg....more

Near Tragedy in the Drakensberg

In the Mkhomazi region of the Drakensberg, a small and inexperienced party set out from Lotheni one sunny Friday in July, under the leadership of medical student David Harrison....more

Peaks of the Drakensberg

The Zulu names for the peaks tell of their awe: Giant’s Castle, for example, is known as Bhulihawu – the shield thrasher. There’s Cathedral Peak, the Bell, Organ Pipes, Twelve Apostles, Mitre, Monk’s Cowl and even the Devil’s Knuckles and a Devil’s Tooth....more

Sani Top Chalet in the Drakensberg

In 1946 the intrepid veteran of the war in Italy David Alexander organised a pony trip up the steep bridle path to Sani Top in the Drakensberg....more

The Mythical Drakensberg

The Zulus called them the barrier of upturned spears, uKhahlamba. As the Voortrekkers ventured forth, most of the names they bestowed upon geographical feature were fairly prosaic - Swartberg, Blouberg, Rooiberg....more

The Tugela River in the Drakensberg

The Thukela (more commonly known as the Tugela) River rises as a chilly and pure stream from a seepage 'sponge' on the slopes of Mont-aux-Sources....more

uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park Accommodation

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park is not only home to a diverse range of fauna and flora, but also to a wide range of accommodation options....more

Vegetation of the Drakensberg

The vegetation of the main Drakensberg range, between the Amphitheatre in the north and Giant's Castle in the south, is determined mainly by altitude and aspect (orientation to the sun)....more

Waterfall Cave in Mnweni

This is a walk that is seldom done but offers a wonderful Berg experience. The pass is an 'add-on' to the cave hike and although it is much overlooked by hikers it is one of the passes used by Basotho traders and their pack animals....more