From the Afrikaans ‘Drakensberge’ (meaning Dragon’s Mountain) the Drakensberg comprises several impressive peaks with a maximum height of 3000m in the eastern region of the Great Escarpment which surrounds the Southern African Plateau. It creates a natural border between several countries; including Eastern Cape Province, Lesotho, Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Free State, Mpumalanga and even Limpopo,a total distance of roughly 1000km.
Things to do
Whilst holidaying in the Drakensberg area there are a multitude of activities for the
family, adventurous hikers or ambitious mountain bikers to partake in. The Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Centre is located in Champagne Valley and is a great day out for the whole family. There are bird shows at 10:30am every day, excepting Fridays when the centre is closed for the day.
There are many fantastic hiking trails ranging from an outdoor stroll to more physically challenging hikes. Ensure that you are aware of the level of difficulty and follow proper safety precautions before attempting any of these walks.
Mountain biking is catered for with a variety of MTB tracks, testing all cyclists from novice to expert. Sani Spoors offers some great single tracks, after purchasing a permit at the office before setting off. Their trails range from 3km to 15km and can be used by runners as well.
Dragon Rock Reptile centre is also found Champagne Valley and comes highly recommended for families and those wanting to be taken out of their ‘comfort zone’. Visitors to the centre will be allowed to hold various reptiles whilst learning about their value in our environment.
The Drakensberg Canopy Tour is a must if you are wanting to see the stunning views on offer from the tree tops in Blue Grotto Forest. Follow a zip-line through the forest, resting at tree and cliff platforms along the way.
Tourists visiting the Drakensberg in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area are encouraged to journey through to Kamberg to view the rock art left behind by the San people many years ago. A visit to the Kwa-Zulu Weavers will allow you to take home a small, locally hand-crafted souvenir as a memento of your trip.
For the more adventurous, Drakensburg Ballooning with Westline offers the incredible opportunity to view the Drakensberg from the comfort of a hot-air balloon. Breath-taking views of the mountain-range at sunrise make for fantastic photographic memories to take with you when you leave. Westline also offers helicopter flips over the region.
One cannot visit the Drakensberg without viewing the second highest waterfall in the world. Tugela Falls has a drop of a massive 947m and is an impressive sight. Whether it is to tick it off your bucket list or to bask in the sheer beauty of nature itself, Tugela Falls is a must for all Drakensberg visitors.
Where to eat
Walkerbouts Inn provides farm-style food made from local ingredients. Patrons can expect a good hearty meal and fantastic hospitality. A great place to rest for the weary traveller.
Visitors wanting to sample some of the local foods would do well to try out The Caterpillar and Catfish Cookhouse. The Pint o’ Prawns favourite provides a taste of the sea for those hankering for seafood.
Living Life Station Café is a renovated Train Station which provides light meals and a pleasant atmosphere. Other restaurants with a more ‘bistro-vibe’ include Bingelela and Scrumpy Jacks (a local favourite).
If it is a quick cuppa that you are looking for then the aptly named The Giant’s Cup Tea Garden and Restaurant is a great place to stop off. With the option of a light meal, this tea garden provides a quiet spot to collect your thoughts and take in the awesome views.
For the holidaying family, the quaint ‘Duck and Dolittle’ is a beautiful farmyard restaurant with a petting area. Mom and Dad can have a relaxing meal whilst the kids are kept entertained by the farmyard animals outside.
Moorcroft Manor and Sanford Park Country Hotel provide a fine dining option for those who want to dress up for an evening of elegance. The venues both provide patrons with some exquisite dishes and plenty of variety.
Where to stay
For those away on family holiday or with a group of friend, self catering is the most inexpensive way to go. The Drakensberg offer a multitude of choices throughout the region. Some of the more popular, and best priced place include Elands Valley Lodge, Ripon Country Cottage, and Glade Farm.
Good food, a warm atmosphere, and affordable rates can be expected for those looking to stay at B&Bs in the Drakensberg. Some favourites include Under the Berg Bed and Breakfast, Ikosana Lodge, and Amazian Mountain River Lodge.
Gorgeous surrounds, relaxation and luxury are all on the cards for those choosing to stay at the stunning Health and Sports Resorts in the region. Little Switzerland is the place to go for pure opulent luxury, while the Champagne Sports Resorts is a golfer’s dream.
Air: The Drakensberg doesn’t have an itself doesn’t have an airport. However, you can fly into George airport and drive the 70kms into Knysna. There are car rental agencies available at the airport, and most can be booked online.
Car Rental: Getting around the Drakensber is easiest by 4x4. There are plenty of car rental agencies in the more built-up areas in the region, and most can be booked online.
Taxis/cabs: There are limited taxi services available in certain parts of the Drakensberg. These tend to be quite pricey if you intend to travel further that a few kilometers in them.
Did You Know:
The Drakensberg is commonly misspelt as Drakensburg, Drackensberg, Drakensberg Mountain, Drackenburg, Drakensberg Range
The Drakensberg is also known as uKhahlamba (Barrier of Spears) by the Zulu.
It’s highest peak is Thabana Ntlenyana, measuring an impressive 3,484 metres (11,424ft).
The world’s second highest waterfall (Tugela /Thukela Falls) with a total drop of 947m is found in this mountain range.
Tugela Falls is the source of the Orange River (Southern Africa’s longest river).
The Drakensberg has some 299 bird species, which is around 37% of the land-based birdlife of southern Africa.
In Potgietersrus, the Drakensberg is known as the Strydpoort Mountains.
The most popular hike in the range is up Cathedral Peak, also know as Mponjwana (Little Horn) by the local Amangwane people.
The Drakensberg is home to historical San paintings on the Kwa-Zulu Natal and Lesotho border.
The Drakensberg Region is home to the world famous Drakensberg Boy’s Choir.