Introducing The Drakensberg
The tabletop peaks of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg range, which form the boundary between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, offer some of the country’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. This vast 243, 000-hectare sweep of basalt summits and buttresses are so recognisably South African that they’ve become tourist-brochure clichés. If any landscape lives up to its airbrushed, publicity-shot alter ego, it is the jagged, green sweep of the Drakensberg.
The Drakensberg (or the ‘Berg’, as it’s often called) is usually divided into three sections, although the distinctions aren’t strict.
The northern Drakensberg runs from the Golden Gate Highlands National Park to the Royal Natal National Park. Harrismith and Bergville are sizeable towns in this area.
The central Drakensberg’s main feature is Giant’s Castle Game Reserve, the largest national park in the area. Northwest of Giant’s Castle is the Cathedral Peak wilderness area. The towns of Bergville, Estcourt and Winterton are all adjacent to the central Drakensberg.
The southern Drakensberg runs down to the Transkei. This area is less developed than the others, but is no less spectacular. There’s a huge wilderness area, and the Sani Pass route into southern Lesotho.
There’s no single road linking all the main areas of interest so you’re better off selecting one (or a few only) places rather than spending most of your time behind a wheel in search of sights. In general, you must book all KZN Wildlife accommodation (except camping) in advance through either the Pietermaritzburg or Durban KZN Wildlifebranches. There are also several local information offices:
Central Drakensberg Information Centre (036-488 1207; www.cdic.co.za; Thokozisa; 9am-6pm) Based in the Thokozisa complex, 13km outside Winterton on Rte 600, this private enterprise is extremely helpful.
Okhahlamba Drakensberg Tourism (036-448 1557; www.drakensberg.org.za; Tatham Rd, Bergville; 9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat) Covers the northern and central Drakensberg.
Southern Drakensberg Escape Tourism Centre (033-701 1471; www.drakensberg.org; Clocktower Centre, Old Main Rd, Underberg; 9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-12.30pm Sat) Covers the southern region from Underberg, Himeville and Sani Pass.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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