South Africa's uKhahlamba-Drakensberg houses a treasure trove of an estimated 35 000 examples of San rock paintings, is home to protected plant and animal species, and contains a high-altitude, RAMSAR-accredited wetland system. 

Did you know?

The highest peak in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg is Thabana Ntlenyana, at 3 482m.

South Africa features many mountain ranges, none more impressive than KwaZulu-Natal's 200km-long uKhahlamba-Drakensberg escarpment.

With peaks that exceed 3 000m, the Berg – as it's more commonly known – forms the backbone of the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Area between the Kingdom of Lesotho and South Africa.

The uKhahlamba ('barrier of spears' in Zulu) is a biodiverse wonderland of river valleys, mountain streams, rugged cliffs, hiking trails and stunning scenery that attracts thousands of holidaymakers every year, mainly during the hotter summer months: December to February.

In winter the mountains are sporadically dusted with snow, transforming designated slopes into a winter playground for snowboarders and skiing enthusiasts.

The rugged landscape, traversed by gorges and rivers, lends itself to numerous outdoor activities such as kayaking, tube-riding, horse riding, 4x4 trails, hiking, hang gliding, mountain climbing, swimming, canyoning, fly-fishing and more.

Hundreds of caves lie hidden in valley folds and in the sandstone cliffs that typify the Drakensberg. It's on the walls of these caves that a living legacy of the nomadic San people is recorded in the form of paintings. An estimated 600 rock art sites feature in excess of 35 000 images depicting humans, animals and the complex spiritual life of the San over 4 000 years. Other 19th and 20th century paintings are attributable to the Bantu.

The Drakensberg is also acknowledged as a RAMSAR site for its high-altitude wetlands, which lie above 2 750 metres, and for its prolific birdlife.

Worth looking out for are the endangered Cape vulture and bearded vulture, that can be seen soaring from the cliff tops near Sani Pass, Sloggett's ice rat and the eland, a large antelope species successfully reintroduced to the region.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Tourism KZN
Tel: +27 (0)31 355 7500
Email: kznta@iafrica.com

How to get here

The Berg is divided into the southern, central and northern regions. The N3 national road between Durban and Johannesburg is well signposted to access routes for each of these regions.

Best time to visit

The summer months, December to February, are best to make the most of long days.

Tours to do

Tour companies offer bus tours packages that include luxury accommodation at top resorts and hotels.

Get around

If you're planning on exploring via the dirt roads of the region, a 4x4 vehicle is advisable.

What will it cost

The mountains comprise many nature reserves and Parks Board-protected areas, for which permits may be purchased on site for a nominal amount.

Length of stay

A weekend minimum, a week or more would be more beneficial and enable a well-rounded experience.

What to pack

Always pack thick socks, sturdy hiking boots, a woollen cap, jacket and water bottle.

Where to stay

Camping, caravanning, hotels, B&Bs, guest lodges and farm stays are plentiful in and around the Berg.

Best buys

A handmade walking stick, made and sold at the roadside by the locals.