The Drakensberg Mountains
The Drakensberg Mountains has some of the
most beautiful scenery that the South Africa
offers. The Drakensberg consists of four valleys,
beginning with the Champagne
Valley in the Central Drakensberg, through
Peak and Didima Valley, then the Royal
Natal National Park and the Amphitheatre,
and finally the Bushmans River valley headed
at Giants Castle. Each of the four valleys has its
own kind of beauty and character; all have magnificent
Giant's Castle Game Reserve takes its name
from the silhouette of the peaks and escarpment
that resemble the profile of a sleeping giant.
Giant's Castle camp is situated on a gassy plateau
among the deep valleys running down from the
face of the High Drakensberg, offering glorious
views for hikers and mountain climbers. Superb
rock art is high among its special attractions.
Visit the Main Caves Museum for fascinating
insight into the past lifestyle of the San people.
The renowned vulture restaurant is open for
visitors to watch bearded vultures and other
endangered species feeding. Black-backed jackal,
baboon, serval and caracal are found, and there
are trout in the Bushmans and Injasuti rivers.
A hide from which visitors may watch the rare
lammergeyer and other birds of prey may be reserved,
and birding enthusiasts will enjoy looking out
for the more than 140 species that have been
Royal Natal National Park
This area of the Drakensberg is particularly
well known as a tourist attraction and accommodation
area. Situated in the Northern Drakensberg,
the most famous feature is the Amphitheatre.
Here the Drakensberg, for the length of 5 kms
raises straight up to the sky, to a height
of over 3000 feet. It is here that the brave
can climb up a chain ladder and view the escarpment
from the top. A further feature of the Drakensberg
is the Tugela Falls cascading down 5 drops
forming the second highest waterfall in the
world. Although the highest waterfall, the
Tugela is by no means the only waterfall in
the Drakensberg. Indeed the Drakensberg has
many splendid falls of interest to the tourist.
In the 8000 ha of the Royal Natal National
Park is situated the Cannibal Cave, where tribal
people had to resort to cannibalism whilst
hiding from the wrath of Shaka Zulu as he purged the Drakensberg area of
his enemies.This area has numerous walks and
hikes to challenge the tourist, from easy to
day long treks.Tourists are encouraged to register
their presence when challenging this area of
the Drakensberg, as the weather can change dangerously
Cathedral Peak and Didima Valley
The Cathedral Peak Area of the Drakensberg
has splendid scenery with the Dorian Falls
as an excellent example of a Drakensberg waterfall.
Views of the Central Drakensberg can be had by venturing to the
top of Mike’s Pass (accessable with a
4x4 vehicle) and a natural feature of breath-taking
nature is the Rainbow Gorge, with two enormous
boulders forming a wedge, surely only seen in
The recently built Didima Resort and San Art
Centre, a KZN Wildlife Project is well worth a visit
whilst in this area of the Drakensberg. A 4x4
trail leads from the Amphitheatre in the Northern.Drakensberg
to Cathedral Peak via the Mweni Valley. It provides a challenging drive
as well as a remoteness that is unique in today’s
world.The Mweni Cultural Centre, which provides
accommodation, trails and guides, is also in
this area as well as some of the most challenging
climbs in the entire Drakensberg.
The Cathkin and Champagne Valley
Peak and Champagne
Castle have peaks at 3149m and 3248m respectfively.
These, together with Monk’s
Cowl (3234m) are some of the highest peaks
of the Drakensberg Mountains. Cathkin was named
after an area around Glasgow, Scotland by the
first Scottish settlers in the Drakensberg.
The Champagne Peak received its name as a result
of the first climber to reach its peak taking
a bottle of Champagne to celebrate his achievment
and accidently dropping it. Champagne Valley
is noted for its many different sporting activites,
especially golf, for which there are numerous
challenging golf courses.
The San people or Bushmen first populated this
area of the Drakensberg and 17 shelters and
over 4000 Bushmans paintings are to be found
in Drakensberg caves and cliff overhangs.The
Bushmen are believed to have been exterminated
in the 1800’s by farmers and bounty hunters,
although in 1926 a bow, quiver and fresh grass
bed were discovered in this area of the Drakensberg.
The Giant’s Castle area of the Drakensberg
is rich in San Art Paintings and a visit to
the Cave Museum showing San family life with
clothes, tools and weapons is extremely interesting.
Near to Giant’s Castle is a Vulture Restaurant
where birds of prey like the Lemmergeier and
Black Eagle can be seen from a camouflaged hide.
A remote game reserve was established in 1903
between Champagne Valley and Giant’s Castle
near Injusuthi Dome (3409m), the highest peak
in the Drakensberg.
The Boer War Battlesites
The Drakensberg Mountains form a backdrop to
Ladysmith and Colenso, towns which featured
highly during the Boer War. Both towns have
museums of great interest to students of this
conflict. Numerous graveyards exist in the area
and tour guides of considerable knowledge of
the conflict can bring history alive for the
tourist.The Siege and relief of Ladysmith is
perhaps the single most told incident of the
entire war, and was in fact a series of battles
before Ladysmith was finally relieved and this
area of the Drakensberg returned to British
control. Tourists can spend many interesting
hours visiting the Beor War Battlesites where
heroism and carnage were performed by both the
British and the Boer forces, and the names of
people like Winston Churchill, Mahatma Ghandi,
Emily Hobhouse, JanSmuts, Danie Smit and Louis
Botha became household names and world famous
later in time.