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Why visit the Drakensberg

One of the most impressive mountain ranges I have ever seen in South Africa is the wonderful Drakensberg.  This area is truly focused on tourism and therefore you will find a wide variety of excellent hiking trails, hotels, and resorts to choose from, which makes a visit to Drakensberg SA more than worth your while.

Did you know – Interesting Facts:

  • It is 2000 to 3482 meters / 6562 to 11424 feet in height, with Thabana Ntlenyana, at 11424 feet, being the highest peak.
  • The Drakensberg is part of the Great Escarpment and reaches from Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, through Lesotho to the Eastern Cape province.

Activities and Sightseeing - What you simply must do

The mountains offer a lot of sightseeing opportunities as well as outdoor activities like hiking, abseiling, rock climbing, or mountain biking.  If you love history, you can explore and visit the battlefields, museums, and other historical sites in the region.

The area is famous for its ancient bushman paintings and the legendary Drakensberg Boys Choir.  Should you have the opportunity to experience any one of these two, we would highly recommend it as part of your itinerary.

However, when you travel to the Drakensberg, do make time to just enjoy the magnificent natural scenery.  Time to maybe just sit on a rock and be grateful for being healthy and able to experience it.  Enjoy a sunset or get up extra early and enjoy a beautiful sunrise with your coffee in hand.  All this makes your experience just so much more fabulous and memorable, than just rushing to do the usual “must-see” list.

Blyde River Canyon Drakensberg

Drakensberg - A Nature Lovers' Paradise

The mountain range includes features such as:

  • The Three Rondavels  (in Afrikaans “Die Drie Rondawels”) 
  • The Blyde River Canyon with God’s window’:  A picturesque viewpoint in Graskop, Mpumalanga, so-called due to the spectacular views you can experience from here. (Located to the North of Graskop.)

Is the Blyde River Canyon worth a visit?

The Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga is the 3rd largest Canyon in the world.  Therefore making it definitely a must-see destination.  You don’t even have to ask if it is worth a visit as it is simply spectacular. The entrance fee to the Blyde River Canyon is included in your entrance fee to the Three Rondavels as they are in the same area. 

Things to see in the Drakensberg


Drakensberg

Game reserves and the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, which is a World Heritage site, offer you the best nature experience and hiking trails.  Further to the amazing nature, you will find more than 300 bird species. This makes the area a bird watcher’s dream, but how do you take your eyes off those spectacular mountains? Remember to pack a good camera as you simply cannot go to the Drakensberg without taking thousands of photos.

The best places to Snow Ski in Africa

During wintertime (June, July, and August) the Drakensberg is South Africa’s best snow location and it offers the best ski slopes in Africa.  

The two famous ski-resorts are:

Tiffindell Ski Resort – in the south of the Drakensberg and at an altitude of 2720m, nestling snugly on the slope of Ben McDhui (3001m), it also is the highest peak in the whole of the Cape Province.

Afriski Mountain Resort – Just 5 hours from Johannesburg has everything you’d expect from a ski resort.  This includes ‘epic slopes, ski lifts and the opportunity for you (and your kids) to practice (or gain) some serious snow skills.’ – Afriski Resort.

The San Rock Paintings

The Kamberg area is the heart of the historic San rock paintings of Ukhahlamba. Remember to arrange for day tours with a tour guide to visit these sites.

“There are numerous caves in the easily eroded sandstone of Clarens Formation, the layer below the thick, hard basalt layer on the KwaZulu Natal-Lesotho border. Many of these caves have paintings by the San (Bushmen). This portion of the Drakensberg has between 35,000 and 40,000 works of San rock art and is the largest collection of such parietal work in the world.” (Wikipedia) 

Accommodation near the rock paintings

For accommodation nearby, and easy access to, the San Rock paintings, I would visit Giants Castle.  According to their website, they offer easy 30 min walks to the rock art as well as hiking trails, fly fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and excellent birdwatching and photography opportunities.  (Please note that we haven’t visited Giants Castle yet ourselves, so this is purely information that is location-based.)

Where to stay in the Drakensberg

Here are a few of Travel and Home’s favorite options.

Booking.com offers trusted accommodation at excellent rates to our Travel and Home community.

1.  First Group Bushman’s Nek

Activities offered at the resort include mini-golf, tennis, table tennis, and squash. Guests can explore the Underberg, and the resort also has a kids’ club. Other activities in the surrounding area include trout fishing, horseback riding, and hiking.

Address:  Bushmans Nek Road, Drakensberg Garden (243.5 km from Durban)

2.  Cathedral Peak Hotel

Cathedral Peak Hotel features a 9-hole golf course, a swimming pool, and gym facilities.  When staying at Cathedral Peak you will think you are in Switzerland with the beautiful mountains surrounding you and the stunning vistas.

Address:  Cathedral Peak Drive, Winterton  (250 km from Durban)

3.  Granny Mouse Country House and Spa

Durban’s King Shaka International Airport is 145 km from Granny Mouse Country House & Spa.  They do offer Airport Transfers.

If you’re looking for the perfect Wedding Venue in the Drakensberg, this is the most romantic venue ever with excellent photo opportunities.

Address:  R103, Old Main Road, Balgowan (30 km from Durban)

Where is the Drakensberg located

“The Drakensberg” is not a small specific area, but rather a huge escarpment that stretches for more than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles).

‘Starting in the Eastern Cape Province in the South, then successively forms, in order from south to north, the border between Lesotho and the Eastern Cape and the border between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal Province. Thereafter it forms the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, and next as the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Province. It then extends farther north to Hoedspruit in southeastern Limpopo where it is known as ‘Klein Drankensberg’. From Hoedspruit, it extends west to Tzaneen, also in Limpopo Province, where it is known as the Wolkberg Mountains and Iron Crown Mountain.  The escarpment extends west again and at Mokopane it is known as the Strydpoort Mountains.’ – Wikipedia

I think that is a huge description, but the map below should help as well.

More THINGS TO DO at your favorite destination

More interesting facts:

  • The Drakensberg is the source of the Orange River (SA’s longest river) as well as the Tugela River.
  • Leading from the Tugela River is the Tugela Falls which is the worlds’ 2nd highest waterfall, with a drop of 947m (3107 ft).
So come on:  Book that holiday and dream trip to Africa.  You will definitely not be disappointed.

Plan a trip to your favorite destination

International airport

King Shaka International Airport (DUR), abbreviated KSIA, is the primary airport serving Durban, South Africa. Located in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal, approximately 35 km north of the city center of Durban.

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