SA-Drakensberg
Created by Lynn May Gosselin.

Looking for natural stunning beauty in a mountain setting? You can find some glorious, surprising mountainous scenery in Africa.

 

It’s not all plains of grass and wild animals in South Africa. The stunning Drakensberg Mountains are waiting to be discovered. Declared a World Heritage Site in 2000, this area spans a distance of 1000km in the Western Provinces of South Africa, with borders touching Lesotho, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Mpumalanga. The Dragon Mountains are at times desolate and barren, golden and snow capped and dotted with quaint towns. One never thinks of snow when entertaining thoughts of an adventure to South Africa but here in the Drakensberg the peaks are often glistening with white. At present the snowcaps are beginning to melt as the sun warms the Southern Hemisphere ready for the summer months.

Now, is a great time to pack your bags and plan an awesome hiking expedition to the Drakensberg. The area is vast, so it’s best to hone in on one area to call your base. Then discover the trails, rivers, golden sandstone cliffs and more that this stunning area is known for. We list below a few of the most impressive hikes to consider when planning your trip to this region of the world.

 

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Giant’s Cup

Forming a part of the Drakensberg National Hiking Way, this spectacular multi-day hiking adventure is for those looking to pack their goods and stay out in nature for a few days. The trail begins at Sani Pass, located in West KwaZulu Natal on the road running between this province and Lesotho. The clearly marked trail is best done as a group. Any multi-day hike is safer when accompanied by friends or knowledgeable guides. A number of tour organizations can provide trained hiking guides if required. KZN Wildlife organization maintains five, albeit rustic, cabins along the route for overnight.

You can expect some stunning scenery as you trek to Giant’s Cup. Streams, pools, caves, some with ancient San paintings and amazing weathered rock formations offer inspired views. Predominantly a treeless mountain range, the views of golden grasslands go on for miles and miles, occasionally broken by rivers and streams. While the distances between overnight huts are not lengthy, the trail often comes across steep climbs. Agility and strength should be considered when contemplating this hike. Giant’s Cup is not a round route, so prepare to be dropped at your starting point and picked up at the other end.

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The Amphitheatre

Dramatic and imposing, the Amphitheatre is the most photographed in the Drakensberg range. Rising 1000 meters from the Tugela Valley below, the perfect symmetry of a sheer rock wall, 5 kilometers in length, is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Amphitheatre. Another multi-day trip, the trail has recently been adapted to suit all ability types. Hikers of average fitness can now hike and easier trail for three days to reach the “top of the world.” Cabins are available along the trail to provide rest overnight but those wishing to pitch a tent and camp can do so as well.

The views are well worth the 25-30 km round trip journey. Majestic mountains, incredible waterfalls, including Tugela Falls the second highest falls in the world are yours to enjoy. As you work your way along this journey, you will literally feel on top of the world as you sit or stand on dramatic cliff edges, facing breathtaking views before you.

 

Amphitheater and Tugela river, Drakensberg mountains, Royal Nata

Tugela Gorge

For those looking for just a couple hours of adventure rather than investing days exerting energy in nature, try the Tugela Gorge trail. This moderate hike will take approximately two hours to accomplish. The scenery is stunning on this hike without being over the top adventurous. Weaving back and forth between protea veld, grassland and dense forest, this trail is a great way to spend your time in the Drakensberg immersed in nature.

 

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