Hiking the Little Berg, KwaZulu-Natal
Did you know?
The Kamberg rock paintings are sometimes called the Rosetta Stone of San rock art.
The uKhahlamba/Drakensberg was the first site in South Africa to be recognised as both a Cultural and Natural World Heritage Site. When you go hiking in the Little Berg you’ll find out why.
The Little Berg describes the foothills of the mighty Drakensberg – South Africa’s highest and most spectacular mountain range. Although the peaks offer the best views, when you hike the Little Berg you’ll still experience awesome scenery and, on some walks, San rock paintings – the finest collection in the country.
One lovely walk is the Rainbow Gorge hiking trail. It’s 5.5km and will take you approximately two hours, depending on your pace and how often you want to sit and admire the scenery, spot animals or gaze at the teeming birdlife.
The trail starts at Cathedral Peak Hotel and then winds through lush forest into the gorge, past rock pools, rapids and waterfalls. You’ll find out why it’s called the Rainbow Gorge when you see the rainbows dancing on the spray.
South of the Cathedral Peak area is Monk’s Cowl, a nature conservation service station that is the gateway for many ambles, rambles and day walks. If you’re really short on time then choose the 30-minute walk to Fern Forest.
Giant’s Castle Game Reserve is south of Monk’s Cowl and shelters the Drakensberg’s finest collection of more than 500 San rock paintings. Follow a winding but easy one-hour trail from reception to the main caves. A guide will interpret the paintings for you and point out their meaning and spiritual symbolism.
The Kamberg Nature Reserve in the Little Berg is also home to superb rock paintings. From the wheelchair-friendly Kamberg Rock Art Centre, take a three-hour guided tour to Game Pass Shelter, where outsiders first understood the spiritual significance of the art.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Central Drakensberg Information Centre
Tel: +27 (0)36 488 1207
Cathedral Peak Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)36 488 188
Inkosana Lodge & Trekking
Tel: +27 (0)36 468 1202
Didima Rock Art Centre
Tel: +27 (0)36 488 8025
How to get here
Best to start from the town of Winterton. The Central Drakensberg Information Centre in the Thokozisa Centre just outside town will give you all the information you need.
Best time to visit
April and May are the best months, although June through to September are also good months for hiking if you don't mind the cold.
Tours to do
Kamberg Rock Art Centre and the Game Pass Shelter Giant’s Castle rock paintings tour.
Length of stay
It's really up to you, the area is truly beautiful and will reward any length of stay. But if you are pressed for time, then choose a short day walk.
What to pack
Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or boots. Sunscreen, a hat and drinking water are essential. Take binoculars if you plan to do a spot of twitching.
Where to stay
Cathedral Peak Hotel is a perfect base from which to explore the Little Berg. Inkosana Lodge & Trekking is also a good option.
KwaZulu Weavers & Candles has great handmade rugs, carpets and candles for sale.