Ukhahlamba Drakensberg

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Ukhahlamba (Drakensberg) or "The Berg" is a mountainous region in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

Map-South Africa-Ukhahlamba Drakensberg01.png

Understand[edit]

The name 'Drakensberg' is derived from the Dutch and means "mountains of the dragon". The mountain range was formed by a lava flow.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The N3 highway (a toll road) is the major road artery through KwaZulu-Natal and connects with Durban to the south and Johannesburg to the north. One of the regional roads leading off the N3 will get you to where you need to be.

By plane[edit]

There are no major airports in the region. The nearest international airport is in Durban. Pietermaritzburg has a smaller regional airport with daily domestic flights.

By bus[edit]

Baz Bus, runs a regular service between Durban and Johannesburg/Pretoria with stops in Pietermaritzburg and at the Amphitheater in the Royal Natal National Park.

Underberg/NUD Express runs door-to-door shuttle service between the Sani Pass lodges, Underberg, Pietermaritzburg, Howick, Kokstad,and Durban.

Get around[edit]

By car[edit]

The best way to get around is by hired car. Roads are tarred and for the most part well maintained and signposted.

See[edit]

Do[edit]

Northern Drakensberg

The Northern Drakensberg is generally the warmest area of the berg in Winter, with little to no snow and higher temperatures than Johannesburg.

  • Hiking around the Amphitheatre. Spectacular hiking around a mountain feature known as the "amphitheater" or "theater" for short. Hiking on top of the theater itself is possible. If you are staying in the Royal Natal, it is either a two day hike or to the top, or a one hour drive to a gate near the top. The hike on the top takes place on comparatively gentle terrain. At one point, it is necessary to either climb a steep gully or to climb up chain ladders. Chain ladders are the easiest but the gully may be more rewarding.
  • Royal Natal National Park features excellent hiking and accommodation facilities. In particular, there is the Tugela Falls Gorge Walk, which is about 22 kilometers on relatively flat terrain.

Central Drakensberg

Southern Drakensberg

The Southern Drakensberg is generally the colder area of the berg in Winter, with often thick snow and cooler temperatures than Johannesburg though spring and summer can be as hot.

Gateway to the Southern Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal is primarily through Underberg and Himeville.

Easterly access by road from the N3 is via Exit 99 Howick South onto the R617 via Boston and Bulwer to Underberg and Himeville.
Southerly access by road from the N2 is through Kokstad onto the R617 via Sartberg to Underberg and Himeville
  • Sani Pass. Sani Pass is an eight kilometer mountain pass that can only be traversed by four wheel drive vehicles. These eight kilometers are "no mans land" because the South African border post lies at the bottom and the Lesotho border post lies at the top. Four-wheel drive minibus taxis can be used by travellers to get up or down, but the wait might be considerable. Several tour operators/guides offer various excursions, from one to multiple days in Lesotho, up/down Sani Pass.
  • Giant's Cup Hiking Trail (1570m AMSL), KZN Nature Conservation Services +27 33 845-1000fax: +27 33 845-1001. This is a 5 day hike covering about 13km every day in unspoilt mountain terrain with ample pristine water sources and streams along its route. Being at altitude of about 1570m above mean sea level on average can in some cases be taxing on those with a medical condition of the lungs or heart, especially on hot days. In general, a very enjoyable and scenic route with lots of interesting fauna and flora to be discovered. Not to forget the historic rock art of the San people.

Eat[edit]

Drink[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • Amphitheather Backpackers Lodge (Follow the R74 north out of town for 21 km, signpost will indicate the lodge on the left),  +27 36 438-6675fax: +27 36 438-6675. Camping: R45, dorm bed: R75, basic twin: R85 per person, budget double: R100 per person, deluxe double: R110 per person.
  • Sani Lodge Backpackers Hostel. Located near Sani Pass. Accessible via Underberg Express shuttle service. Offers excellent multi-day tours to Lesotho and nearby hikes to Bushman paintings. Restaurant food is mediocre and overpriced at R50 for breakfast and R70 for dinner so it is advisable to bring food. Kitchen facilities are available. Camping: R60; Dorm bed: R90, Standard rooms: R240.
  • Drakensberg Express (Drakensberg Express), 21 Hawthorn St +27 39 727-4547. Drakensberg Express offers you a vast search for Accommodation, Activities and Cuisine in the Drakensberg region of South Africa.

The entrance and lounge area of this hotel personifies the warmth of the peaceful surroundings, so typical of the famous DRAKENSBERG community.

  • Witsieshoek +27 58 713-6361. Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge offers a variety of accommodation and activities, such as hiking trails, camping, bird watching and rock climbing. From R550.

Go next[edit]

  • Lesotho can be accessed via the Sani Pass and border post. A 4x4 is recommended for Sani Pass.
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