The Drakensberg mountain range, translated from Dutch as Dragon’s Mountains, is the most extensive in South Africa, spanning a distance of around 1000m, and boasts the highest peak in Southern Africa, Thabana Ntlenyana, at 3482m in height. This particular peak was named by the Lesotho people, and means “nice little mountain” in SeSotho, however, there are many other famous peaks within the range, including Cathedral Peak, Giant’s Castle, and other mysteriously named and majestic peaks …
Visit the Drakensberg …
The famous Blyde River Canyon falls within the furthest northern reaches of the range with the entire mountain range stretches from the Limpopo Province to the Eastern Cape in the South, where the famous Tiffendell, South Africa’s only ski resort, lies. In addition to forming the border between South Africa and the kingdom of Lesotho, where locals have dubbed the range the Maluti’s, the range also separates the Free State from KwaZulu Natal.
One of the factors that make the Drakensberg range so special is the fairly unique geological formation. The mountains were once a part of the African plateau, and are made up by a fairly substantial layer of basalt, up to 1500m thick in places, with an underlying layer of softer sandstone, deposited on the floor of a gigantic lake that once lay where modern day South Africa is today.
One of the many tourist attractions in the range is the uKhamhlamba, which is translated from the Zulu as “barrier of spears”. Also known as the Drakensberg National Park, the area is a World Heritage site, and internationally protected wetland area. Another park worth visiting is the Royal Natal National Park, home to the Tugela Falls, the second highest in the world.
In the Central Drakensberg Area, visitors can view some of the best preserved and most accessible examples of ancient Bushmen paintings, as well as enjoy some of the best hiking trails the range has to offer. Of course, one of the main activities on offer in these mountains is rock climbing, and there are numerous options to choose from, depending on skill and energy levels! But the mountains also offer several other options, such as 4 x 4 trails at Sani Pass or Mikes Pass, or perhaps canoeing at Wagendrift Dam in the Central Drakensberg region.
Black and white rhino are on display at the Weenen Game Reserve, or take advantage of the nine hole golf course at Cathedral Peak, Champagne Valley, and Hlalanathi, or the full 18 hole course at the Champagne Sports Resort in the Central region.
As with the activities on offer, accommodation in the Drakensberg covers the full spectrum. From camping under the stars, to luxury five star game lodges, there is something to suit every taste and budget, although given the snowfall in winter, the former should be attempted during the warmer months only.
With so much to see and do in the Drakensberg Mountains, it would seem that any visitors to the area should plan their trip carefully, and probably make allowance to make a return trip, if they want to see it all …
Useful Drakensberg Links:
- Drakensberg Attractions
- Things to Do in Drakensberg
- Drakensberg Hotels
- Drakensberg Accommodation
- South Africa Accommodation