To the Zulu people it is uKhahlamba the “Barrier of Spears” and to the early Dutch Voortrekkers it became the Drakensberg “Dragon Mountains”. Both names describe the formidable mountain range which dominates KwaZulu Natal’s western escarpment.
Soaring to an incredible 3482 metres at its highest point the range towers over indigenous riverine bush, lush yellowwood forests, cascading waterfalls and rolling high altitude grasslands. Its sandstone base has been eroded over millennia forming countless caves and overhangs. To the San people, the regions original inhabitants, these caves provided shelter from the harsh mountainous conditions. These early residents left a legacy. The area contains an extensive collection of San (Bushmen) rock art. Tens of thousands of paintings adorn the walls of caves and overhangs here, the oldest of which dates back 2 400 years. It is the largest concentration of rock art on the African continent.
The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg range is quite simply, breathtaking. It’s an unspoilt paradise spanning 243 000ha and in 2000 was declared World Heritage Site. (The provinces second world heritage site the other being the iSimangaliso Wetland Park)
The region contains a wealth of natural diversity including 290 species of birds and 48 mammal species. These include the endangered Bearded Vulture and rare Eland and endemic Grey Rhebuck. Among its 2 153 plant species is the extremely rare Protea nubigena, which is found nowhere else but here.
The scenic Royal Natal National Park falls within the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park and features the picturesque Tugela Falls, Amphitheatre, Sentinel, Eastern Buttress and Mont-aux-Sources, the summit of which can be reached via a 100-rung chain ladder.
Hiking, walking, camping are popular Drakensberg activities, there are thousands of marked trails of varying difficulty, allowing visitors to enjoy everything from scenic walks to serious hikes that maximise this natural splendor.
Did you know: the source of the Tugela River (Zulu for ‘sudden’) is at Mont-Aux-Sources several kilometers from the escarpment from which the Tugela Falls cascades over too become the world’s second highest waterfall with a total drop of 948 meters.