If any landscape lives up to its airbrushed, publicity-shot alter ego, it is the jagged, green sweep of the Drakensberg’s tabletop peaks. This forms the boundary between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, and offers some of the country’s most awe-inspiring landscapes.
Within the area is a vast 2430-sq-km sweep of basalt summits and buttresses; this section was formally granted World Heritage status in 2000, and was renamed uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. Today, some of the vistas are recognisably South African, particularly the unforgettable curve of the Amphitheatre in Royal Natal National Park.
Drakensberg means ‘Mountain of the Dragons’; the Zulu named it Quathlamba, meaning ‘Battlement of Spears’. The Zulu word is a more accurate description of the sheer escarpment, but the Afrikaans name captures something of the Drakensberg’s otherworldly atmosphere.