Drakensberg and Midlands

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Drakensberg and Midlands

Overview
Activities and Highlights
Seasons
Region Map
Accommodation

Description

There is a place within southern Africa that soars toward the heavens, rising to a majestic height of 3482 meters and stretches along the south eastern flack of the African continent for more than 1000kms. This place is known as the Drakensberg. Translated to Dragon Mountain, it is the highest mountain range in southern Africa and possesses dramatic, overpowering natural beauty.

The Drakensberg lends itself to the fantasy of an enchanted remote landscape filled with the altitudes of golden yellow sandstone, gaping rock chasms, ballistic jagged peaks and towering mountainous stone. The plummet of rugged heights are cutback and broken into networks by the flow of intruding river valleys and the greenery of grasslands, which adds to the pristine beauty of one of South Africa’s Natural World Heritage Sites.

Allow the Drakensberg Mountain Range to leave you spellbound while hiking or exploring the many nooks, crannies and caves that curves into the vertical surface of ancient cliffs. Discover the diverse landscapes of the Drakensberg, which protect a large array of endemic and endangered wildlife species, especially birds and plants.

Before you reach Drakensberg, we suggest you explore the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. The tree-lined pathways will lead you to many quaint towns filled with the eclectic mixture of Zulu culture, history and traditional crafts. The lush green fields and pine forests surround glistening dames and lakes, and the majestic flow of magnificent waterfalls lend itself to the perfect and most serene picnic spots in Africa. A perfect balance of dramatic mountainous force, majestic natural serenity, culture coupled with history; and heritage, all for you to discover.

Access Details

By road, the Drakensberg is situated approximately 4 hours from the city of Johannesburg and 3 hours form Durban. Both Durban and Johannesburg airports are accessed by daily international and national flights.

Suggested Stay Details

The Drakensberg is a great family holiday destination. Most of the accommodation offer a resort experience with a range of activities. We propose a minimum of 3 nights.

Type of Experience

The dramatic landscape of the Drakensberg is one of the most remote and historically significant areas in southern Africa. As a cultural and natural World Heritage Site, the mountain range possesses the most concentrated collection of rock paintings in southern Africa. These rock paintings are reminders of the San people who occupied and hunted in the region for more than four millennia. Journey back in time and explore the richness of more than 35000 bushman paintings dispersed over 600 different sites.

The Midlands Meander is reported to be the first of its kind in South Africa and is situated between Howick and Nottingham Road. Visit the charming towns situated in the Natal-Midlands and explore experience traditional Zulu culture. There are many art and craft centres from the Drakensberg into the Midland areas which are perfect to stock up on souvenirs from antique shops or galleries.

Infrastructure

The low slopes of the Drakensberg are largely developed areas with hiking trails, resorts and hotels blending along the slopes of the mountain. Protected areas include Himeville Nature Reserve, Sehlabathebe National Park, Sterkfontein Dam and Royal Natal National Park. The Natal Midlands offer serene countryside scenes and luxurious farm houses and lodges.

Geography

Consisting of layers of basalt and sandstone, the mountain range is coloured by light browns to rustic oranges. The rugged landscape is cut by river valleys, high grounds have many waterfalls and the slopes are covered in grass plains. The Natal Midlands are lush in pastures and pine forests surround lakes and dams.

History

The areas of the Drakensberg are believed to have human occupation dating back to 1 million years ago. Rock art indicates ancestral relations to the San hunter-gathers. During the 13th century, farmers occupied the hills and slopes and in the 16th century, the Zizi and Tholo occupied the northern and central regions of the Drakensberg. With the rise of Zulu power, lead by Shaka Zulu, many were forced to migrate northward into the Drakensberg in the 19th century.

Arriving in 1837, Voortrekkers occupied the foothill regions of the mountain, farming and hunting which caused conflict between them and the San until the 1930s. During the 1860s and 1870s, conflict between these two groups caused the demise of the San tribes.

Activities & Highlights

DRAKENSBERG SPLENDOUR: The mountain range divides into for scenic valleys. Royal Natal National Park is most popular for the Amphitheatre Valley and exploring it will lead you to the world’s second highest waterfall, the Tugela Falls. Journey to Cannibal Cave and learn the history behind the eerie name of this site. The Lost Valley and Middledale Pass has historic significance as the site which was occupied by Piet Retief’s descendants when first entering Natal. Access the remote Cathedral Peak Area via 4x4 vehicle and follow Mike’s Pass to Rainbow Gorge in the Mweni Valley. Champagne Valley is surrounded by some of the highest mountain peaks of the Drakensberg; most notable are Champagne Peak, Giant’s Castle, Cathkin and Monk’s Cowl.

DRAKENSBERG ACTIVITIES: The remote regions of the Drakensberg lend itself to many exciting activities. Allow yourself to fully take in the splendor of the Drakensberg while gently riding through the scenes on a traditional Basotho pony. Golf is taken to another level with challenging 9 to 18 hole courses back dropped by the rugged soar of Drakensberg cliffs. Absorb the atmosphere while hiking through numerous paths such as the Gorge walk, Dorin Falls Walk, Mike’s Pass and Rainbow Gorge. You can even fly-fish or quad-bike or even rock climb your way to elevated heights.

WILDLIFE: The diverse landscapes offer both natural beauty as well as natural habitats for mountain wildlife. Abundant in plant species, the Drakensberg mountain range has 119 species which are endangered and 98 species which are near-endemic or endemic. With lush grass planes covering the mountain ranges, more than 290 bird species are attracted to these slopes and mountain peaks, from the Cape Vulture and the Lesser Kestrel to the Drakensberg Siskin, Yellow-breasted Pipit and the Rudd’s Lark. The long-toed tree frog and Natal Midlands dwarf chameleon can be found here as well. The Southern White Rhino has been nurtured along the slopes of the Drakensberg and wildebeest, reedbuck, eland and oribi can be seen in large herds too.



Season Travel Details

October to April is summer which is gloriously hot and humid. The season has many thunderstorms, and green valley’s are filled with blossoming flowers.

The winter months between May and September are dry, with frequent frosts and snowfalls in mid winter. We suggest the best time to visit is during autumn, winter and spring months.

Hartford House

Hartford House

Hartford House, situated in the Natal Midlands (KwaZulu Natal), with a backdrop of the great Drakensberg Mountain Range. This Greenlife Safaris offering provides premier accommodation and excellent cuisine, in a beautiful country setting.

Isibindi Zulu Lodge

Isibindi Zulu Lodge

Isibindi Zulu Lodge situated in the heart of the battle fields in KwaZulu Natal. This Greenlife Safari’s property overlooks the famous Talana Hill and is situated in beautiful surrounds.

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