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
Tel: +27 (0)31 355 7500
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.
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.
A handmade walking stick, made and sold at the roadside by the locals.