Five fabulous outdoor experiences in the Drakensberg
Known by locals as 'the Berg', the Drakensberg mountains are an easy drive from Durban or Johannesburg and offer visitors a variety of outdoor activities in any season.
1. Take a helicopter ride
The Drakensberg offers some of the most splendid scenery in South Africa, and there’s no better place to take it all in than from above. Experienced chopper pilots can take you deep into the heart of the mountains to places that would otherwise be inaccessible, providing you with a whole new perspective on this spectacular landscape.
2. Play a round of golf
Golfers have a number of options when visiting the Berg, including the 18-hole course at Champagne Sports Resort and the nine holes at Cathedral Peak. Both courses provide some interesting challenges as they wend through magnificent settings. In fact, it may be worth walking the courses even if you’re not a golfer.
3. Zip through the tree tops
Floating above the mountains in a hot-air balloon as the sun rises is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If your idea of fun involves whizzing through the tree tops suspended from a zipline, you have plenty of options in the Drakensberg. The Champagne Castle Adventure Centre offers a one-hour tree-top zipline adventure with an optional 'king swing' to really get the adrenaline pumping.
All Out Adventures in the northern Drakensberg has an 'extreme cable tour' on its menu, promising 'an exhilarating and scenic ride on 900m of cable between seven forested platforms'.
Both adventure centres provide a host of other activities, including quad biking, paintball, mountain biking and abseiling.
4. Ascend in a hot-air balloon
Floating above the mountains in a hot-air balloon as the sun rises is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list (or 'basket list' as the case may be). Drakensberg Ballooning, in association with Westline Aviation, offers flights every morning, operated by qualified, experienced pilots.
The views stretch from the Amphitheatre in the north right the way down to Giant's Castle in the south. This trip is well worth getting up early for.
5. Take a hike
Whether you have a few days or just an hour or two to explore the Berg, there’s range of hikes that’s perfect for everyone. Most hotels and campsites have a variety of recommended routes catering to novices, experienced hikers and anyone in-between. You'll find something special in every season – the spectacular streams and waterfalls in summer (November to February) and splendid snowscapes in winter (among other things). The Drakensberg is truly a hiker’s paradise.