The Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa are known far and wide for their majestic beauty. The jagged peaks, rocky rivers and green valleys have been attracting mountain climbers, adventure seekers and nature lovers for years. Given that the mountain system is so vast, however, it's difficult to know exactly where to go and what to do when you only have a limited period of time. We look at the top 5 recommended destinations within the Drakensberg.
1) Penwarn Country Lodge is located outside Underberg in the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg. It actually consists of the lodge and Waterford Farm and stretches over 3800 hectares, bordering the Ukhahlamba World Heritage site. There are catering and self-catering accommodation options available at the Mthini and Indabushe Lodges, as well as the Log Cabin, Kudu Lodge and Riverside Cottage.
It's location in the valley provides for a range of activities, including a guided dairy tour (the farm is the largest dairy farm in Kwa-Zulu Natal); horse trails, birding tours where you can see rare species such as the Wattled Crane, Bearded Vulture and Bald Ibis; trout and bass fishing in the over nearby 50 dams and the Nqwaqwane and Nqwaqwanyana rivers; guided and self-guided hikes (of course); and rock art tours.
2) Champagne Castle Adventure Centre is located beneath two of the Drakensberg's most famous peaks: Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak. The centre provides a variety of adventurous activities for people of all ages, including a Kiddies Adventure Park for children aged three to seven years old. Family-appropriate activities include tubing, canoeing, archery and a series of four zip-lines. Extreme adventures include kloofing, white water kayaking and abseiling.
There is also a spa for members of the family who prefer to take it easy.
3) The Midlands Meander is an attraction in its own right, but within the Meander is something even more special: Karkloof Canopy Tours. Guests are driven up to the top of the Karkloof Valley where they attach themselves to steel cables and begin their aerial tour of the forest below. The tour is broken up by seven platforms, where guests are given the opportunity to admire the spectacular views and listen to their guides explain the wonders of the natural eco-system.
Tours last approximately three hours and are suitable for anyone aged seven to seventy years old.
4) The Tugela Falls and Tugela Gorge are considered to be nigh unmissable. The Tugela Falls are accessible by only one trail and that starts in the Sentinel car part at Witsieshoek. It'll take you approximately 2.5 hours and you'll have to climb two chain ladders, but once you reach the top of the Amphitheatre and see the falls in all their glory you'll be grateful you made the effort.
You can see the falls from another angle if you follow the Tugela Gorge, which takes you through gorgeous indigenous forests and up yet another chain ladder. Once again, the view makes it all worthwhile.
5) Giant's Castle Nature Reserve is a park within a park. The reserve is located in the centre of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park. It is famous for its hiking (day and overnight hikes); bird watching (over 170 known species including the Bearded Vulture and Black Eagle); trout fishing; ice climbing; and rock art.
We write about Transgariep Venues for Central South Africa Portfolio, your one-stop-shop for leisure, sport and business travel in and around the diverse landscape that makes up central South Africa.
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