The Dutch Voortrekkers named them ‘the Dragon Mountains’ due to their resemblance to a dragon’s back, whereas the Zulus named them uKhahlamba, meaning ‘barrier of spears’. The mountains stretch 1000 kilometres, but the best-known area is in KwaZulu-Natal and borders Lesotho. The uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park is here and was made a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2000. It is home to 48 species of mammal and over 200 species of bird, including the bald vulture and bearded ibis.
The Drakensberg is the perfect venue for keen walkers and hikers, as there are countless trails to choose from. Rock climbing is also popular, as is horse riding, mountain biking and fishing. Those requiring a little more culture can explore the nearby battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer wars, visit the famous Drakensberg Boys Choir, or admire some of the numerous paintings made on rock faces and in caves by the San Bushmen hundreds of years ago.
Where to stay
There are numerous hotels, guesthouses and campsites in the Drakensberg. Our personal favourites are Cathedral Peak Hotel and Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse.
Time of year to travel
Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to May) are the most popular times to visit the Drakensberg as the weather is relatively stable and it isn’t too hot for walking. The summer months can be unreliable with many dramatic thunderstorms, whereas the winter months are very cold and there can be snow.