The Drakensberg is immensely important in terms of culture. Almost every rocky overhang has San rock art with an estimated 35 000 paintings in all. Some have said this mountain range is the greatest outdoor art gallery in the world.
The mountains protect rolling grasslands and endemic species, and are critically important in their role as a massive water catchments area. It was for these reasons that the Drakensberg Mountains were declared a World Heritage Site (natural and cultural) in 2000. Thendele Camp at Royal Natal National Park in the Northern Berg presents one of the Drakensberg Experience Route’s most compelling views.
Visit the 900m-high Tugela Falls, or hike the Mnweni Valley, view Cathedral Peak Valley and the Rock Art Centre at Didima, then take a visit to Champagne Valley where Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak dominate. A must is Injisuthi Valley, which features South Africa’s highest peak, and Giants Castle with its famous San paintings. There is also a choice of three game reserves close by, one of which has the Big Five.
Explore the Anglo-Boer battlefields like Spioenkop, Fort Durnford and Fere, the place of Winston Churchill’s capture during the Anglo-Boer War. If you have extra time, a highlight of this area has to be a performance by the world-famous Drakensberg Boys’ Choir, with the magnificent peaks forming a perfect backdrop.
To the south, the freestanding basalt block of Giants Castle looms large, clouds streaming off its flanks. Just out of sight is another one of the Drakensberg’s highest peaks, the delightfully named Old Woman Grinding Corn. Part of the magic of the mountains is in their names, given to them for their shapes, sculpted by water and weather: Cathedral’s Peak, Devil’s Tooth, Champagne Castle, Monk’s Cowl, and the Sentinel, to name a few.