The Maloti-Drakensberg Heritage Route is a joint eco-tourism initiative between South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho. The route covers about 13 000km2 of the most awe-inspiring mountain scenery along South Africa's north-eastern border with Lesotho.
You’ll catch famous names like the Amphitheatre and Giant's Castle and if you're a hiker or nature fanatic, you will instantly fall in love with this place as you make your way along the contoured paths that criss-cross these popular and scenic parts of the Drakensberg Mountain Range.
Along the way, you’ll come across more than 22 000 ancient rock art paintings. These etchings of history recorded the daily lives and spiritual adventures of the “First People” – the original South Africans.
In summer, the Maloti-Drakensberg Heritage Route is a place of breathtaking beauty with grasslands, forests, clear streams, and a world of tree ferns and mosses that beg to be explored on foot.
One of the most convenient starting points is Clarens in the Free State, a three-hour drive from Johannesburg. But if you'd prefer to start from the Eastern Cape side (there's an airport in Port Elizabeth), head for the mountains near Lady Grey and Tiffindell.
Hiring your own vehicle is best if you want to fully explore the route.
Must-sees in the area include Cathedral Peak, Champagne Castle and the Royal Natal National Park, the Amphitheatre, Sentinel, Eastern Buttress and Mont-aux-Sources – the summit of which can be reached via a 100-rung chain ladder.
If you have two days or more to spare, consider a guided pony trek in Lesotho. You can do an overnight tour, staying in a Basotho village.
Maloti-Drakensberg Heritage Route
Cell: +27 83 320 0081
There is a range of accommodation available all along the route, from hotels and B&Bs to basic camp sites.
Bear in mind winter can get really cold and some of the roads may be closed due to the snow. Summer is a mild, beautiful time, enlivened by wicked thunderstorms. November and December are particularly lovely because of the wild flowers that bloom.
Dedicate at least five days to this experience.
But winter is when the mountains are at their grandest, covered in soft, white snow that urges adventurers to take to the slopes at Afriski, or watch raptors soaring above them at Sani Pass.
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