Hiking, Biking & Nature Holidays in a World Heritage Site
In the eastern part of South Africa a lengthy volcanic spine of escarpment lies in prehistoric slumber, a magical place that has drawn humans to its peaks and crevices for hundreds of years. Rising to over 3000m, the Drakensberg mountain range is a super-sized playground of lofty terrain for hikers, climbers, photographers, birders and active families.
The Drakensberg, which quite literally means the Dragon's Mountain, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having qualified in 2000 for both its natural and cultural wonders. Most of the range encompasses the well managed uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park which falls under the auspices and protection of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
The range is made up primarily of sandstone with a chunky basalt cap. Centuries of wind, rain, sun, snow and ice took its toll on the basalt, forming the iconic steep-sided blocks and pinnacles of the range that attract visitors from all over the world. Brilliant green in summer and faded khaki in winter, the Drakensberg encompass sweeping grasslands that rise up into steep crevices dark with indigenous forest.
Culturally speaking, with over 40 000 individual paintings and over 550 sites to view San rock art, the Drakensberg are a literal outdoor gallery. It is fascinating to see how history is painted on to the sides of caves that were once homes to the San and due to the process of weathering over time - these paintings will not be here forever.
The Drakensberg Mountains are also the source of the Tugela River. Originating in the Northern Drakensberg, the river rushes into the spectacular Tugela Falls which drops 850m from the top of the Amphitheatre. Reputedly the second highest waterfall in the world, Active Escapes has designed a slackpacking trail which takes you right to the top of the mighty falls without having to be an extreme mountaineer.
While March to May is the best time for overnight hiking using caves and tents, the rest of the year is made perfectly comfortable with Active Escapes slackpacking options. To find out more about slackpacking click here. While we're well versed on where to stay in the Drakensberg, Active Escapes also offer horse back riding, trout fishing, birding, mountain biking, trail running and guided photography orientated walks.