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KwaZulu-Natal

AA haven for adventurous travellers. From the simple pleasure of walking one of many trails, to exploring the rugged mountain peaks the Zulus call uKhahlamba—“the barrier of spears”—the Drakensberg experience offers you adventure, nature, culture and angelic hymns.

Set aside a good few days for the Drakensberg tour as there is so much to see and do, so many villages in its valleys to explore, trails to hike, people to encounter and sites to visit. Located in the Midlands of the KwaZulu-Natal province, it is centred on the Drakensberg World Heritage Site, which includes Giants Castle and the Central and Northern Drakensberg. The route extends from Hidcote in the south to Sterkfontein Dam in the north.

Did You Know?
GGiants Castle, part of the Drakensberg Experience Route, was one of the first conservation areas on the continent.

VVisit the 900m-high Tugela Falls, or hike the Mnweni Valley, view Cathedral Peak Valley and the Rock Art Centre at Didima, then take a visit to Champagne Valley where Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak dominate. A must is Injisuthi Valley, which features South Africa’s highest peak, and Giants Castle with its famous San paintings. There is also a choice of three game reserves close by, one of which has the Big Five.

EExplore the Anglo-Boer battlefields like Spioenkop, Fort Durnford and Fere, the place of Winston Churchill's capture during the Anglo-Boer War. If you have extra time, a highlight of this area has to be a performance by the world-famous Drakensberg Boys’ Choir, with the magnificent peaks forming a perfect backdrop.

To the south, the freestanding basalt block of Giants Castle looms large, clouds streaming off its flanks. Just out of sight is another one of the Drakensberg's highest peaks, the delightfully named Old Woman Grinding Corn. Part of the magic of the mountains is in their names, given to them for their shapes, sculpted by water and weather: Cathedral's Peak, Devil's Tooth, Champagne Castle, Monk's Cowl, and the Sentinel, to name a few.

TThe Drakensberg is immensely important in terms of culture. Almost every rocky overhang has San rock art with an estimated 35 000 paintings in all. Some have said this mountain range is the greatest outdoor art gallery in the world.

The mountains protect rolling grasslands and endemic species, and are critically important in their role as a massive water catchments area. It was for these reasons that the Drakensberg Mountains were declared a World Heritage Site (natural and cultural) in 2000. Thendele Camp at Royal Natal National Park in the Northern Berg presents one of the Drakensberg Experience Route's most compelling views.

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"South Africa’s a very special country from coast to mountain. Cape Town itself is just an incredibly beautiful place also an incredibly diverse place, you have Table Mountain, you have indigenous forest and then you have this wealth marine life where you can see orcas and seals and penguins and whales and dolphins all on the same day and octopuses, massive invertebrate bio-diversity. I think, Cape Town is one of the most important bio-diversity hotspots on the planet and it’s also home to a huge community of endemic species and endemics are animals that you only find in that specific place and then when we talk specifically about the Great African sea forest, which is, the beautiful home of The Octopus Teacher. The thing about kelp forests is they cover 25% of the world’s coastlines, they are critical eco systems, they absorb carbon, they protect coastlines from storms and swell which is very important at this time because of rising sea levels and then they are just home to this unbelievable community of animals. They have some of the most bio-diverse habitats on Earth but, what’s happening, all over the world, because of climate change, is they are incredibly fragile. What’s incredible about the Greta African sea forest is the habitat is thriving, you know, it’s a very extensive kelp forest. It runs from De Hoop in the east all the way up the west coast to Namibia in the west and it’s healthy and the structure is there and although, you know, it’s not pristine but because the habitat is thriving the way that it is it really could be and you put your heard under the water there and you will see things that you never dreamed were possible and you’ll look up and there will be light playing through the forest and light rays shining down on you, and, it’s a dreamlike experience. It’s like being in a painting". Film Director, Pippa Ehrlich. We congratulate Netflix’s #MyOctopusTeacher​ for winning at The Oscars. The incredibly beautiful story of one of South Africa’s magical marine life and biodiversity, #MyOctopusTeacher​ was nominated for an Oscar award under the Documentary Feature category. Set in a kelp forest in #FalseBay​, #CapeTown​, South Africa, we say #MyOctopusTeacher​ definitely deserves the Oscar! #ShareSouthAfrica

We didn’t choose a location for this film because we never knew it was going to be a film, this is just what Craig does and what the C-Change project does, we live in Cape Town so we dive in Cape Town. And there are incredible dive sites all over the city, right on our doorstep and the incredible power of this film in some ways, and the joy of it from a filmmaking point of view is that, most natural history shoots you get flown off to some exotic location and then you’re under incredible pressure to get everything you need in three weeks. When you live and work in your home, you can be very picky about exactly the shot that you want. You know, you can wait for the best visibility, you can wait for the scariest storm. And the most amazing part of all of it is you go and dive, and you have these mind blowing experiences and you hold that feeling in your heart, and then you sit down straight afterwards and go back to the edit suite like this magical process of alchemy where it just pours into the film that you’re creating, so this was a once in a lifetime filmmaking process. It’s certainly changed my life." Film Director, Pippa Ehrlich. A showcase of South Africa’s beautiful biodiversity hotspot in a Western Cape kelp forest of #FalseBay​, Netflix's #MyOctopusTeacher​ has won an Oscar award under the Documentary Feature category. Good luck to the team for the brilliant story of a once-in-a-lifetime encounter in one of the most exquisitely beautiful environments on earth 🐙 #ShareSouthAfrica​ #CapeTown​ #FalseBay Learn more about the destination on www.southafrica.net

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