A trekkers’ paradise.
The wild southern Drakensberg mountains in South Africa turns over a scenery that is beautiful and fascinating. A sublime composition of rough peaks, deep forests, waterfalls, and rivers make this prehistoric mountain range of 620 square miles feel like an ultimate adventure destination.
The name ‘Drakensberg’ refers to the Afrikaans (old Dutch) translation of ‘dragons mountain’. In Zulu, its name is ‘uKhahlamba’ or Barrier of Spears.
Four things to do here
Other than enjoying the scenery when you drive past the Drakensberg mountains, there are plenty of hiking opportunities and lovely camping placing (read below at “Where to stay?”). The scenic drive to Sani Pass (9,430 ft), the highest point in South Africa (with the highest pub), is the most unforgettable one. The Drakensberg mountains have a lot to offer. Tip: Injisuthi (in the central Drakensberg mountains) is a great place for complete wilderness hikes, whilst Champagne Valley is also beautiful, but more touristy.
Here are four recommended things to do in the southern Drakensberg mountains:
The legendary Sani Pass is the only road that crosses the peaks of the high Drakensberg. It provides the only road link between KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, which is very interesting to visit for at least a full-day.
The Sani Mountain Lodge is the highest pub in Southern Africa. It’s a basic chalet, but its cozy and you’ll have some amazing views up there.
Lesotho, hidden away in between high peaks, is a tiny independent highland country that’s completely surrounded by the South African expanse. It’s located just next to the Drakensberg mountains. Get ready for unforgettable hikes, cozy little villages with rondavel huts and breathtaking mountain views.Travel in Lesotho is affordable, off-the-beaten-path and you can easily it via the Sani Pass (read above here).
Based in the Northern Drakensberg mountains, the Amphitheatre is regarded as one of the most remarkable cliff formations on earth. It’s one of the major highlights of the Drakensberg mountains. The Amphitheatre is over 5 km(3.1 mi) long in length and rises approximately 1,220 meters (4,000 ft) high above sea level. The Tugela Falls, the world’s second tallest falls, is located over 948 meters (3,100 ft) from the Amphitheatre’s cliff peaks.
There are 2 famous hiking trails to the Amphitheatre in South Africa:
- One starts at Sentinel car park above the Witsieshoek Resort. As this resort is located at an altitude of over 2,500 meters (8,200 ft), the rest of the hike is a relatively short climb.The trip takes only 5 hours return, not including time taken on top of the mountain.
- Another trail to the foot of the Tugela Falls starts at Royal Natal National Park. The easy seven-kilometer gradient up the Tugela gorge winds through native forests.
At a height of 3,450 meters (11,320 ft), there’s the highest point of South Africa. Mafadi is a name of this peak, which is located on the border of South Africa and Lesotho. Climbing Mafadi can be quite a physical and mental undertaking challenge. It will take you about 4 days to reach the top. Only for badass adventurers!
How to get to the Drakensberg mountain range?
The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for over 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from the Eastern Cape Province in the South, then successively forms, in order from south to north, the border between Lesotho and the Eastern Cape and the border between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal Province.
It’s located in the middle from Jo’burg to Durban. Tip: renting your own bike or car is advised! Or you can book a tour, so you don’t have to mind about your own transport.
From Durban: drive inland on the N3 and branch off west: there are no north-south routes along the mountains.
Where to stay?
Amphitheatre backpackers lodge – Midway between Johannesburg and Durban on an idyllic piece of land, encircled by awe-inspiring mountains you will find Amphitheatre Backpackers. The lodge takes its name from “The Amphitheatre,” the most famous geographic feature of the Northern Drakensberg, South Africa.