This basalt escarpment forms the border between Kwazulu Natal and the kingdom of Lesotho in South Africa. The name literally means “Dragon Mountains” which seems appropriately enigmatic for this often mist-swathed and lonely landscape of towering peaks and forested valleys. The Drakensberg are usually split into three specific areas; the Northern, Central and Southern Drakensberg. The whole area is scattered with tea shops, craft centres and plenty of beautiful places ideal for spending a relaxing afternoon.
The Northern Berg stretches from Golden Gate Highlands National Park to the Royal Natal National Park and encompasses some of the most dramatic scenery in South Africa. The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is relatively small at 8000 hectares and encompasses the Amphitheatre, an 8km stretch of magnificent cliff face which is a climber’s paradise with breath-taking views from the ledges along the cliff edge.
The Mont aux sources mountain also rises here, at an altitude of over 15,000m, three rivers have their source here including the Orange which runs from here all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The plentiful water supply combined with the variety of habitat niches has resulted in over 200 bird species making this Park their home, as well as many small mammal, amphibian and reptile species.
The Central Berg includes Giant’s Castle, a rugged and remote area which often seems deserted despite its popularity with visitors. Clear, cool water streams bubble down the mountainsides and an enjoyable walk up the wildflower strewn valley leads to some ancient San rock paintings, evidence of the area\’s first inhabitants. Giant\’s Castle is also home to over 60 mammal species in addition to the rare bearded vulture. Some of the Drakensberg’s most challenging climbs are to be found within the Central Berg. These include Cathkin Peak, Monk’s Cowl and Champagne Castle. Hikers will be rewarded by the spectacular views which seem to stretch forever, and by the occasional sighting of a klipspringer antelope or a mountain reedbuck.
The Southern Berg runs down to the Transkei and includes the steep and scenic Sani Pass which leads to Southern Lesotho. This area is less developed than the north and central regions, but is no less beautiful.