The Drakensberg mountains, or ‘The berg’, as South Africans call it, is a spectacular region to visit in KwaZulu Natal. It offers everything from serious mountain hiking to gentle rambles beside crystal streams and through wooded glades. It was South Africa’s second World Heritage Site.
The main pleasure of the Drakensberg mountains is the glorious walking on offer, but there are other delights. The Drakensberg offer some superb examples of ancient Bushmen rock paintings at Giants Castle and Kamberg nature reserves. You can visit many arts and craft studios in the Central Drakensberg, such as the famous Ardmore studios. There are also weekly musical recitals by the world-class Drakensberg Boys Choir – if you time your visit right!
Things to do in or near the Drakensberg Mountains
- The Drakensberg mountains are perfect for families & keen walkers alike
- Stunning mountain hiking with daily guided walks from many mountain resort hotels
- Walks to superb Bushmen rock art sites at Giants Castle & Kamberg
- Didima Rock Art Centre near Cathedral Peak Hotel
- Ardmore Pottery Studio
- Drakensberg Boys Choir with weekly performances
- Horse-riding for beginners & experienced riders
- Treetop canopy tours
- Midlands Meander Arts & Crafts route
In the Southern Drakensberg, you can take the guided 4×4 ascent to the top of Sani Pass to Africa’s highest pub in the rugged Kingdom of Lesotho. (Note that you will need to stay in the Southern Drakensberg for the preceding night).
Hotels in the Drakensberg Mountains
Where you stay depends on what you want to do. Broadly speaking, you can choose between staying at one of the traditional mountain resort hotels such as Cathedral Peak Hotel or The Cavern Hotel or smaller country retreats such as Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, or Montusi Mountain Lodge which are further away from the main peaks. The traditional mountain resort hotels are a little old-fashioned in feel but they are perfect for keen hikers and families with their prime locations and excellent sporting facilities (horse-riding, tennis, bowls, even a nine hole golf course). There are complimentary daily guided hikes starting from each hotel. These walks vary with gentle ambles on some days to serious hikes on others.
In contrast the country retreats offer intimacy and tranquility, and in the case of Cleopatra, some of the best food in the country. These are perfect for people who want to see the Drakensberg but who are not so into walking and so don’t mind driving from their hotels to get to the high mountains.
The Natal Midlands
At the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains lies the Natal Midlands. This offers a gentler sort of beauty with rolling hills and picturesque river valleys. It is home to a number of charming country house hotels such as Hartford House on a horse stud farm, Fordoun Hotel & Spa and Karkloof Safari Spa. It’s the perfect place to relax at the start or end of your South African holiday, enjoying delicious food and pampering spa treatments as well as the well-known Midlands Meander arts and craft route. From here you could visit some of the central Drakensberg sites for the day such as Giants Castle, enjoy the treetop canopy tour at Karkloof or visit the very moving Mandela capture site and museum.