The massive Drakensberg mountain range forms the border between the province of Kwazulu-Natal and the kingdom of Lesotho. The name Drakensberg is derived from the Afrikaans name “Drakensbergen” meaning “mountain of dragons”, but is also known, in Zulu, as uKahlamba meaning “the barrier of spears”. The range is over 1000kms in length with the highest peak reaching a staggering 3482metres (11,424 ft), making it the highest in South Africa. The area is one of spectacular natural beauty and definitely one South Africans have to boast about! In the year 2000, the Drakensberg Mountains were declared a World Heritage Site, giving us even more reason to be proud!
The Drakensberg escarpment stretches from the Eastern Cape Province in the south and ends near Tzaneen in Limpopo province. The mountains are rich in plant life and 2153 plant species are found there. In addition the Drakensberg is home to 299 recorded bird species. Many streams and rivers generate in the Drakensberg including the source of the Orange and Tugela Rivers. The Orange is the longest Southern African River. Also found in the mountains is the Tugela Falls which is the second highest water fall in the world with a total drop of 947metres.
There are numerous caves in the easily eroded sandstone of Clarens Formation and many of these caves have rock 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 work in the world. Remarkably, the rock art in the park is better preserved than any other region south of the Sahara. The oldest painting on a rock shelter wall in the park is about 2400 years old, while more recent creations date back to the late nineteenth century.
One of the most popular areas within the mountain range is the Central Berg which is conveniently situated less than an hour from the main N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban. This area has dozens of resorts including top quality hotels, self-catering cottages and cosy mountain lodges. All of these are available within a 2½ to 4 hour drive from Durban or Johannesburg and many offer facilities such as golf, tennis, squash, bowls, horse-riding, fishing, mountain hiking or just great relaxation and cuisine.
Climate conditions are wet and cool at the higher altitudes and snow fall is experienced during most winters.