The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park is home to 35 000 examples of San rock paintings and a huge diversity of protected plant and animal species.
While there are many mountains in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal's 200km long uKhahlamba Drakensberg escarpment is by far the most impressive.
With peaks that exceed 3000m, the Berg – as locals like to call it – forms the backbone of the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Area between the Kingdom of Lesotho and South Africa.
The uKhahlamba (“barrier of spears” in Zulu) is a dynamic wonderland of river valleys, mountain streams, rugged cliffs, hiking trails and stunning scenery that attracts thousands of travellers every year, mainly during the hotter summer months of December to February.
The Berg is divided into the southern, central and northern regions. The N3 national road between Durban and Johannesburg is well signposted to access routes for each of these regions.
If you're planning on exploring via the dirt roads of the region, a 4x4 vehicle is advisable.
Tour companies offer bus tours packages that include luxury accommodation at top resorts and hotels.
Tel: +27 31 355 7500
The mountains comprise many nature reserves and Parks Board-protected areas, for which permits may be purchased on site for a nominal amount.
Camping, caravanning, hotels, B&Bs, guest lodges and farm stays are plentiful in and around the Berg.
A handmade walking stick made and sold at the roadside by the locals.
The summer months, December to February, are best to make the most of the long days.
A weekend minimum, a week or more would be more beneficial and enable a well-rounded experience.
In winter, the mountains are dusted with snow, transforming designated slopes into a winter playground for snowboarders and skiing enthusiasts. That’s right, you can ski in South Africa!
If you prefer adventures without snow, there’s no shortage of options. You can go kayaking, tube riding, horse riding, do 4x4 trails, hiking, hang gliding, mountain climbing, swimming, canyoning, fly-fishing and so much more.
Take the time to explore the hundreds of caves that can be found in the valleys and sandstone cliffs of the Drakensberg. Many of these cave walls tell the story of the nomadic San people who recorded their lives in rock art paintings throughout this area. In fact there are around 600 rock art sites with over 35 000 images depicting humans, animals and the complex spiritual life of the San over a 4000-year period. Other 19th and 20th century paintings are attributable to the Bantu.
The Drakensberg is also acknowledged as a Ramsar site for its high-altitude wetlands, which lie above 2750m, and for its amazing birdlife. The Ramsar Convention is actually the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, which provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The Drakensberg falls perfectly into that category and deserves all our protection.
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