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The cat is now officially out of the bag. The town of Underberg has long been a well-guarded secret as a getaway destination for nature lovers and romantics, a place where the scenic splendour captivates and the champagne air revives. Underberg is located along the southern Drakensberg range of mountains in the KwaZulu-Natal Province and situated under the 1.9km-high Hlogoma Mountain. This may sound high but for the fact that Underberg is at an elevation of almost 1.6km!
Trout fishing, birding, hiking and mountain climbing are the main attractions, however, the town hosts a number of annual events that draw hordes of people to Underberg.
The town was formed around a store in the late 1800s to service farmers who had settled in the area but it was only in 1907, when the train came to town, that the village began to blossom.
If you are seeking an invigorating experience off the beaten track then book a vacation in Underberg but please, try and keep it to yourself!
Top 8 reasons to visit Underberg
1. If you haven’t driven the Sani Pass, the route is well worth taking, both for the vivid scenery and stirring roadway with nail-biting bends. The pass was originally an old mule track and its peak is over 3km above sea level.
2. The 9-hole golf course at the Underberg Country Club is surrounded by arresting mountains. Clubs are available for hire and lunch and dinner is served at the clubhouse.
3. Trout fishing is the number 1 pastime in Underberg. The Umzimkulu River rushes over rocks to form rapids but in the quieter pools, fly fishermen frequently land 3kg wild trout.
4. Hiking is not far behind trout fishing in popularity. A tough hike is to scale Rhino Peak. In winter, this route is snowed over and hikers have the opportunity to ice climb.
5. Everything is homemade at Pucketty Farm Stall, some from recipes handed down over many generations. This homely farm stall has an animal farm and an honesty system that works on trust alone: you buy goods by selecting your purchase, you pay into a box and take your change.
6. Mountain bikers have been attending the Sani2C mountain bike race since 2005. Sponsored by a large bank, the race is well organised and has a permanent race village.
7. Travel to Himeville to visit the museum located in an old British-built fort. The fort also acted as a prison until 1972. The museum houses several San artefacts, military memorabilia and products collected from settlers.
8. Splashy Fen is held outside Underberg every May and is regularly voted best music festival in the country. Musicians and bands from all over the country are invited to play on the 4 stages. Lots of camping space and for those who don’t want to rough it, the venue offers glamping (glam camping).
The nearest airport to Underberg is the Pietermaritzburg Oribi Airport for SA Airlink flights and 123km away. King Shaka International Airport in Durban is 134km from Underberg. There are many car rental agencies in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and at the airports to hire a vehicle, or you could order a rental online. You may find a shuttle service company willing to transfer you to Underberg, however, expect the cost to be prohibitive and to truly enjoy the area, rather hire a car.
Did you know?
At one time, Underberg and neighbouring Himeville were bitter rivals until a Kenneth Lund began dishing out trees to the villagers. Lund was probably a persuasive character because he was able to convince the warring parties to plant trees along the road linking the 2 towns.
No, the Underberg digestif bitter is not made here, it’s a product of Germany.