The otherworldly ambience of the Drakensberg

If ever there was a landscape that lived up to its airbrushed and hyped reputation, it’s the ragged, green stretches of the Drakensberg range’s peaks. Meaning ‘dragon mountain’ in Afrikaans, most of the mountain calls KwaZulu-Natal home while forming the natural border between South Africa and the Lesotho kingdom. The mountain’s vast, sweeping, basalt summits and sandstone cliffs are part of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Summer brings forth dramatic thunderstorms that rage around 3,400m peaks. When the thunder fades, crisp mountain air settles among gorges and valleys. The streams and rivers are ideal for kayaking, tubing, swimming, and river rafting. Rugged cliffs, natural buttresses, and river valleys tempt hikers, horse riders, hang gliders and mountain climbers. Waterfalls cascade over smooth, boulder staircases into clear rock pools. The Cape vulture and bearded vulture circle the cliff tops near Sani Pass, while Sloggett’s ice rat scurries past grazing eland.

Hundreds of caves are hidden in and around the Drakensberg, many whose walls have served as a canvas for the San people in times gone by. Over 35,000 paintings sprawled across 600 rock sites depict humans and animals. When winter descends, the mountain’s peaks are dusted with snow and its slopes become a winter playground for snowboarders and ski fanatics.

Highlights

  • The streams and rivers that dot the Drakensberg region are excellent for kayaking, tubing, swimming, and river rafting
  • Rugged cliffs, natural buttresses, and river valleys tempt hikers, horse riders, hang gliders, and mountain climbers 
  • Over 35,000 paintings featured in 600 rock sites painted by the San people in centuries gone by depict humans, animals, and daily life 
  • In winter, the Drakensberg’s slopes turn into a playground for snowboarders and ski fanatics
  • The streams and rivers that dot the Drakensberg region are excellent for kayaking, tubing, swimming, and river rafting
  • Best time to go:
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