Did you know?
Lesotho's ponies are famed for their sure-footedness and pony treks into the mountains are a popular attraction.
The Maloti-Drakensberg Heritage Route is a joint eco-tourism initiative between South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho. The route features approximately 13 000km2 of the most awe-inspiring mountain scenery along South Africa's north-eastern border with Lesotho, including parts of the Drakensberg Mountains on the KwaZulu-Natal side, a Lesotho national park and the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site.
Famous names like the Amphitheatre and Giant's Castle fall within its ambit and if you're a hiker or nature lover, you will fall in love with the wild all over again as you amble along the contour paths that criss-cross these popular and scenic parts of the Drakensberg range.
More than 22 000 San rock art paintings, recording the daily lives and spiritual adventures of the so-called First People, are to be found on this route,
In summer, the Maloti Drakensberg Heritage Route is a place of extraordinary beauty – pistachio-green grasslands, high twists of montane forest, clear streams, a fairy world of tree ferns and mosses that begs to be explored on foot.
But winter is when the mountains are at their grandest, their most implacably majestic, covered in a fondant-white snow and beckoning adventurers to take to their slopes at Afriski or watch raptors soaring above the escarpment at Sani Pass.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Maloti-Drakensberg Heritage Route
Cell: +27 (0)83 320 0081
How to get here
One of the most convenient starting points is Clarens in the Free State, a three-hour drive from Johannesburg. But if you'd prefer to start from the Eastern Cape side (there's an airport in Port Elizabeth), head for the mountains near Lady Grey and Tiffindell.
Best time to visit
Bear in mind winter can get really cold and some of the roads may be closed by snow. Summer is a mild, beautiful time, enlivened by wicked thunderstorms. November and December are particularly lovely because of the wild flowers that bloom.
Around the area
Must-sees in the area include Cathedral Peak, Champagne Castle and the Royal Natal National Park, the Amphitheatre, Sentinel, Eastern Buttress and Mont-aux-Sources – the summit of which can be reached via a 100-rung chain ladder.
Tours to do
If you have two days or more to spare, consider a guided pony trek in Lesotho. You can do an overnight tour, staying in a Basotho village.
Hiring your own vehicle is best if you want to fully explore the route.
Length of stay
Dedicate at least five days to this experience.
What to pack
In winter, bring your warmest woollies. In summer, light clothes and perhaps a raincoat for the thunderstorms. You will want your camera and lightweight binoculars. And don't forget your passport for forays into Lesotho.
Where to stay
There is a range of accomodation available all along the route, from hotels and B&Bs to basic camp sites.