The now eroded mountains originated from volcanic beginnings many millions of years ago. The powerful majestic peaks and sheer rock faces become a mountain climbers paradise not to mention the photographers treasure trove.
Over the mountains in the Northern Drakensberg, namely the Mont aux Sources
peak(3282 ft), situated in the Amphitheatre, is the source of the Uthukela river which becomes the (photo of uthukela falls here)uThukela falls. The uThukela falls in 5 drops and is the second highest waterfall in the world after which it winds it’s way through KwaZul Natal and into the Indian ocean.It is over and down this mountain range that the Ukhahlmba Drakensberg becomes a water-producing area which supplies water to the Vaal Dam.
In the Northern Drakensberg the tourist can experience either strenuous hikes or leisurely walks, see baboons ,mountain flora,go horseriding,mountain,(photo of horse riding in Northern Drakensberg) biking, quad biking, experience paintball shooting, a free fall bridge swing, zip line and much more in some of the most amazing scenic mountain beauty.(photo of activity in Northern Drakensberg)
It is possible here to climb the chain ladder up to the base of the Sentinel peak. However on the Free State side, a second chain ladder can also be climbed to the summit of the Sentinel.
At the foot of the Oliviershoek Pass on the opposite side of the road to the Royal Natal National Park and Amphitheatre is the Drakensberg Pump Storage Scheme.Photo of Drakensberg Pump storage scheme) It is this Hydro Drakensberg Power Station that produces Electricity to the Eskom Grid system and pumps the water collected in this region of the Drakensberg over the escarpment at night, so that it can be collected and fed into the Vaal Dam to feed the Gauteng Industrial area and Vaal triangle. This is a fascinating fete of civil engineering, and visitors can be taken around round the scheme, at no charge, however tours must be booked.
Similarly one can also venture around the back of Woodstock Dam into the Mnweni Cultural village area where guided hiking and tours can be aranged, for this area of the Drakensberg..
In the Northern Drakensberg the accommodation, as in the Central Drakensberg, varies from the Backpacking, Bush Camps, Caravan sites, Camping, modest Bed and breakfast’s, through to magnificently situated Guest Lodges, Guest Houses and Game Lodge. Also luxurious Self-catering establishments, There are also Hotels and (photo of an hotel not to be named)Resorts, which compare to any in the Tourism world. There is accommodation, to suite every need and every pocket.
The R 74 is the main road through the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg mountain area and trails veer off from this road for the many inquisitive tourist.
One of these trails being the Middledale Pass or Tintwa trail which connects Bergville, to Geluksburg and then onto the Tintwa area and the ‘Lost Valley’.(photos of Lost Valley)
In 1837. the ‘Lost Valley’ became the home to a ‘White tribe’, widely believed to date back to a breakaway group from Piet Retief’s trek into the Drakensberg. The Tintwa trail then leads to Kerkenberg and the Retief Klip monument. A few kilometres from the Retief Klip monument, is the statue of the Kaalvoet Vrou, (photo of Kaalvoet vrou)commemorating the Voortrekkers entry into Kwa Zulu Natal.
A Game Ranch also in this area invites you to see black and white Rhinos, hippos, giraffe, Buffalo. Wildebeest and rare species of buck.One can enjoy a two hour game drive,only 8 kms off the P341. (photo of animal) Bezuidenhout’s Pass, near the Game Ranch is a challenge to any 4 x 4 enthusiasts. This area of the Drakensberg has many 4 x 4, quad bike (photo of quad biking) and mountain biking trails.
From the Northern Drakensberg, the tourist moves from Bergville towards Winterton, they then enter what is locally known as the Central Drakensberg.
Leaving the R74 either just outside Bergville or just outside Winterton, The road will take them to the Cathedral Peak and Didima valley,where there is golfing,(photo of golf), helicopter flights, swimming, horse-riding and many other activities. One can go on guided hikes to many challenging Drakensberg peaks, one of which is Cathedral Peak or experience unguided hikes to Doreen Falls (photo of Doreen Falls) or Rainbow Gorge. If one has a 4 x4, the fearsome drive to the top of Mike’s Pass allows you to experience the spectacular vista of the Central Drakensberg mountains.(Photo of Mike’s
The Didma San Art centre/museum is also situated here, where the history of the San/Bushman, their way of life and their culture is portrayed. (Bushman art photo)The San/Bushmen left hundreds of rock paintings, in the many caves and overhangs, all over the Drakensberg. Unfortunately to view these Bushman’s paintings in their natural habitat, it is usually required that a guide be employed, to avoid damage to the Bushmen’s paintings which happened in the past.
Moving past the Didima and Cathedral Peak valley, the tourist will next encounter the Champagne valley and Cathkin Peak area. The Champagne valley is another area of the Central Drakensberg.(Photo of Cathkin Peak) The beauty, splendour and magnificent scenery of this area have to be experienced, as words cannot do it justice. The Champagne Valley is situated on the R600 to the south east of Winterton.
Monk’s Cowl is situated in the mountains at the very end of the R600. Here one can go hiking at Monk’s Cowl, Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak.
As one descends towards Winterton the Tourist will encounter a Bird’s of Prey display, where Eagles, Owls and Falcons can be seen performing under the watchful eye of a qualified falconer. (Photo of Bird of Prey)
Next, one can visit the world famous Drakensberg Boys Choir, where a Wednesday recital can be experienced of popular modern and African music.Shows start at 3.30pm during school term. ( be sure you book.)(Photo of Drakensberg Boys Choir)
The Drakensberg area is also a haven for golf enthusiasts, having several courses to choose from. Other activities are fishing, horse-riding trails, bee-keeping courses where the more daring can take part. You can also experience adventure sports such as water rafting, quad biking, archery and Canopy tours. There are at least two Curios Shopping centres with Art work, crafts, metalwork, jewellery, Art Décor ,restaurants, herb products, leather goods, antiques and many other wares for sale. People can experience helicopter rides 9 helicopter photo)whereby tourists can see the peaks of the Drakensberg, from high above the World Heritage site and experience the rush and indescribable mixture of feelings and wonderment of viewing the Drakensberg mountains from above.
Travelling still further towards Winterton, one comes across Rug Weavers.(photo of Kwazulu Weavers) Here one can see rugs being made to order, in your own colour and design. Many are sent all over South Africa and the world.
Finally as one enters Winterton you will find an Anglo Boer war Museum, taste cinnamon coated nuts, relax in Restaurants and Coffee shops. The Northern Drakensberg and this part of the Central Drakensberg are a mere 30 to 45 minutes drive from each other, which often surprises the Tourist, who often perceives them to be far apart. However the Southern Drakensebrg is a four hour drive away.
This area is also rich in Anglo Boer war history, having many battlefields, where national and international tourists interested in their history, can spend many an exciting day, with tour guides and tour operators, who can make the history come to life. The sights include the site of Spionkop Anglo Boer war battle field .This is situated high above one side of the picturesque Spionkop Dam.(photo of Spionkop) This is where the British fought the Boers and is known as the ‘Acre of Massacre ‘, as it was here that an intense battle was fought at close range. It was also here that the British suffered possibly their worst defeat at the hands of the Boers, as they attempted to break through the Boer defences en route to Ladysmith.
Visitors to the sight will feel the eerie and solemn atmosphere and be able to see the long trenches of mass graves and monuments in remembrance of the fallen soldiers.(Photo of Mass Graves at Spionkop)
On the other side of the Dam and still in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg area is the Spionkop Game reserve, where giraffe, rhino, zebra and many types of buck, can be observed in their natural habitat. The Spionkop Dam area is ideal for picnicking and bird watching of which the Northern and Central Drakensberg has +/- 170 species. The animals can be observed from horseback, which may be hired from the main office of the game reserve. It is advisable to book horse rides early, to avoid disappointment. The Game rangers in the park are aware of the times that the animals graze and water themselves. The rangers can then ensure that the horse-rider can see the animals at close range, thereby making the horse ride extremely worthwhile.
Future pages within this web-site can be read which explain the many activities and a more elaborate and knowledgeable discussion about the Anglo Boer war can be read and enjoyed.