Central Drakensberg activities and attractions

Central Drakensberg activities and attractions

The Drakensberg offers a huge range of activities and attractions for your enjoyment. Its all about these unique experiences that make the Drakensberg Mountains the most interesting adventure activity destination in South Africa. Much of this can be attributed to the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains declared a World Heritage Site on two counts.

Gentle attractions and activities in the Drakensberg

  • Falcon Ride bird of prey show – Daily bird of prey demonstrations except closed on fridays.
  • Cathedral Peak Wine Estate. This is wine estate that was established in 2008 offers an excellent wine tasting experience
  • The Drakensberg Brewery, which is producing a range of exceptional beer types ranging from red Ales, blonde Ales, Indian Pale Ale, Pilsners and Stout. This brewery, which is open for light lunches and tasting, is a must visit.
  • The Drakensberg Boys choir – Sublime performances and should you find yourself in the Drakensberg on a wednesday afternoon this is something you should not miss. Start 15:30
  • The Champagne Valley also offers a Park Run, a 5 km experience from the Waffle Hut near Winterton. Guests are welcome to join this community spirit. Additionally, engage with locals over waffles and coffee on Saturday morning. The run starts at 08h00.
  • The Giants Castle Slack Packing Trail – This hike is a luxury trail and is perfect for those hikers who want to sleep in a comfortable bed each day, enjoy 3 course dinners, hearty breakfast, picnic lunches and tea and scones along the way. Its very much about taking things easy and at a leisurely pace enjoying the Lowlands Conservancy and Zulu Waters Private Game Reserve.
  • Day hiking trails through the Drakensberg Mountains – There is a lot to choose from here. easy half hour strolls right through to moderate half and full day trails for beginners. Giants Castle offers some of the most diverse day hiking options in the Drakensberg and the trails start 500m higher than the more popular Monks Cowl and Royal Natal just making things that much easier for yourself. Remember the higher you go the better the views.
  • Sandra se Winkel” Museum on the way to Ardmore Guest Farm is a fascinating trip into the past of frontier life of the Drakensberg. It is a genuine trading store from a by-gone era. Many of the goods in the museum are still in their original packaging!
  • Mandela Capture Site – An incredible sculpture reminding the world of an incredible personality. Nelson Mandel has left a mark on South Africa for us all to be be inspired from and  and thankful for.

Adventure attractions and activities in the Drakensberg

  • Scootours – A group of 6 adults going down a hill with scooters …. at first thought a NO NO . But is a great experience and fun going down on narrow pathways with a scooter. Great views, great fun and a great guide.
  • Drakensberg Canopy Tours, Situated in an indigenous forest of the Central Drakensberg, in the shadow of the towering Cathkin Peak, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour® awaits you. Boasting Africa’s first elevated rock face walkway with a good mix of both cliff face and treetop platforms, and cable slides over the forest up to 60 metres high, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour® must automatically go to the top of your “must do” list.
  • White Water Rafting – Zingela Safaris offers some lovely white water rafting options on the Tugela River.
  • Hot Air Ballooning Hot air ballooning should be on your bucket list and there are few places in the world to fly in that’s as spectacular as the Drakensberg Mountains.
  • Hiking the high DrakensbergThere can be few more inspiring places on earth than looking out at the view from the top of the Drakensberg Escarpment. Getting up there is a slog and hiring a hiking guide that knows the places to camp and caves to sleep in can help alot
  • Cathkin Trails – Valley is becoming increasingly popular for mountain bikers and trail runners. The community of this area has seen the potential of those sporting pursuits and as a result, established has an extensive mountain biking and trail running trails.

Champagne Valley

Champagne Valley

The Champagne Valley is the main tourism hub of the Central Drakensberg

The Champagne Valley is situated in the Central Drakensberg Mountains between Cathkin Peak and Champagne Castle.  The Champagne Valley can be reached via the N3  through the towns of Bergville and Winterton. Its by far the most popular family holiday destination in the Drakensberg region so if you head this way plan for busy. The Champagne Valley is ideal for hiking and mountain biking and lots of adventure activities.  It is famous for it being home to the internationally recognised Drakensberg Boys Choir, whose mountain-top performances have awed all who have heard them perform.

Hand picked accommodation in the Champagne Valley

  • Ardmore Guest Farm
  • Little Acres
  • The Nest Hotel
  • Bahati Tree House
  • Drakensberg Sun
  • Dragon Peaks Resort

Champagne Valley Activities

  • Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Centre.
  • Drakensberg Boys Choir performances on wednesdays at 15h30.
  • Scootours
  • Drakensberg Canopy tours
  • Valley Bakery
  • Quad Biking
  • Hiking

Champagne Valley hiking trails

  • Sterkspruit Falls
  • Blind Mans Corner
  • Breakfast Falls

 

 

 

Family-friendly Drakensberg Hiking Guide

Family-friendly Drakensberg Hiking Guide

Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains is one of the top activities in South Africa. So whether you’re an international traveler or a local South African make sure the Drakensberg Mountains are part of your holiday plans. Actually you should just add them to you bucket list for planning future holidays. The Drakensberg is a must do once in a lifetime experience experience if you’re a nature lover or outdoor enthusiast. Its a remote wilderness isn’t always the easiest choice when you have a family with young toddlers.  This non-camping and children-friendly Drakensberg hiking guide will change all of that

It’s easy to see why the Drakensberg is a natural heritage site, but why cultural? It is estimated that there are over 20,000 San rock paintings hidden across the Drakensberg Mountains. And these should be included in your Drakensberg holiday. It is the highest mountain range in South Africa at a maximum height of 3,482 metres above sea level.

There are an unlimited number of hiking trails in the Drakensberg. You can hike the Drakensberg all year round. However, the best time to visit the Drakensberg is during Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to May). The temperature is more moderate during these months. If you love flowers and plants, November is the best month to see South Africa’s indigenous fauna growth. Summer (December to February) is great if you fancy swimming after your hikes. The rivers are usually full this time of the year and wonderful for swimming. Just be wary that summer is the rainy season and afternoon thunder storms may interrupt your activities. In the winter months (June to August) you’ll be able to enjoy hiking under clear, sunny days. . If you’re lucky, you may even see some snow capped peaks at higher altitudes. The views are always incredible

Unfortunately there are no direct flights to the Drakensberg. The best option will be to fly into either Johannesburg or Durban and rent a car. That will likely be the cheapest option for a family or group larger than 3 people to get to the Drakensberg. Depending on which part of the Drakensberg you’re heading to, it will take 2 hours to 5 hours to drive there.The drive should be pleasant and pretty easy to do. The roads are  well maintained so you won’t need a 4X4 or 4 wheel drive to get to the Drakensberg. Just watch out for the occasional pot hole once you get onto the rural back roads.

Bus or public transport from Johannesburg and Durban to the Drakensberg is limited. There are Greyhound buses That will get you to the smaller towns. Uber does not exist here so you will then be reliant on the shared mini bus taxis and you might need to offer the taxi driver a little bit extra to get you all the way to the National Park Gate. There is also the Baz Bus which is a backpacker bus that drops off and picks up from a few of the backpacker establishments in the Drakensberg. The backpackers offer great options of tours to get out into the mountains.  Still the best recommendation is to have your own vehicle or hire a car. If you not able to stay overnight in the Drakensberg but keen to experience some day hikes, you can join full day hikes from Durban. This is a great option if you’re travelling solo because the tour includes transfers from Durban to the start of the hiking trail. Another plus is that these hikes are guided.

The most frequently asked question asked in South Africa is “Is it safe?”. Well the Drakensberg does come with some risks of you plan things a bit and are aware of the risks you will not have any issues. You will instead wonder what all the fuss was about. Simply don’t create temptation by wearing flashy and expensive jewelry, hang your camera or smartphone around your neck, carry large wads of cash on you, wander around alone at night or pick up random hitch hikers along the side of the road. Drakensberg is relatively safe because it is quite remote and far away from big cities and towns, but it may still be helpful to exercise normal caution anyway. Go on guided hiking tours if you’re extra cautious. If you are a solo traveler its best to hook up with others at hostel or backpackers. Its just silly to hike alone. You might fall and need help in remote places where cell reception is scarce and alone you simply are left to your own devices.

Family-friendly Drakensberg Accommodation Options

The best way to decide where to stay with your family, is to start off by deciding which hiking trails you would like to explore and finding accommodation around that area. The Drakensberg region is huge, so if you plan on doing hiking trails that are far apart from each other, then plan a route and book short stays at hotels close to these trails. Some hiking trails will be directly accessible from your accommodation, whilst others will require a short drive. Make sure that these hiking trails can be completed in a day unless you want to brave camping in the wilderness.

  • The Cavern Resort & Spa – Situated in a beautiful mountain location, this hidden gem is a popular getaway resort for  those seeking comfortable accommodation, great country cooking, outdoor adventure and  attractions. Because the resort is located within a valley, each of the beautifully decorated  rooms offer guests tranquil views of the surrounding nature and scenery. Families can  choose from many activities for all ages such as a playground, a games room, horse riding, a  bowling green as well as a swimming pool
  • Cathedral Peak Hotel –  Cathedral Peak Hotel is an all year-round destination in the Drakensberg, offering visitors an  experience of incredible summers to wonderful winter snow. The resort is extremely  popular to those who love nature and the outdoors. Situated against the breathtaking  Cathedral Peak mountain range, the 4* hotel attracts many travelers including families. Its  array of children activities make this an extremely sought after family friendly property.
  • Antbear Lodge – They understand the importance of making sure your children are well looked after so that adults can enjoy a well deserved break. Antbear Lodge welcome children of all ages into a wonderfully child-friendly, safe environment, and with a selection of child friendly activities. Its clear your children will be sure to have a fun- and variety-filled country holiday. Youngsters will be occupied for hours exploring the grounds, visiting the farm animals, watching a cow being milked and riding horses. And they can also arrange a baby-sitting service at a reasonable hourly rate.
  • The Nest Hotel – One of the few Resort Hotels offering a sumptuous Table d’Hote included in your tariff. Wholesome six-course traditional dinners, full hearty breakfasts, light country-style lunches and morning and afternoon teas. And all in a child friendly environment.
  • Ardmore Guest Farm – Situated in the heart of the scenic Champagne Valley in the central Drakensberg mountain range. Surrounded by breathtaking views and fantastic opportunities for hiking and exploring the local area. Wake up to a traditional farmhouse breakfast (full English) overlooking Ardmore’s extensive gardens. Child friendly with lots of tame farm animals on the guest farm.
  • Drakensberg Mountain Retreat – A stunning destination in the northern Drakensberg with breathtaking views. Accommodation at the Lodge is fully catered for breakfast and Dinner. Lunch can be ordered and can be enjoyed on the patio or a picnic basket for your walk in the mountains. The rooms range in quality and size so chat to the management if you want something specific. There are 2 luxurious rooms for romantic couples wanting a totally private retreat. Our pet friendly rooms have enclosed gardens and our large family rooms are wonderful for relaxing with the kids. There are no fixed entertainment activities for the kids
  • Alpine Heath Resort – Situated close to Bergville, this family friendly 4* hotel is the perfect location for those in  search of tranquility, relaxation and majestic views. For those who opt to  venture out a bit, there are options of outdoor activities and nearby attractions. Families  can enjoy their stay in one of the many luxury chalets with incredible views of the  mountains.
  • Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort  – Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort is a family resort situated in the heart of the Champagne Valley, Central Drakensberg. The resort offers a variety of accommodation types to suit the whole family. Our accommodation ranges from camping and caravan sites through to numerous self-catering options. We offer from our most affordable Drakensberg Park Homes which are 2* through to our newly built 4* Lakeside Suites.
  • Little Switzerland Resort – If you’re looking to bring family together from Durban and Johannesburg, then this holiday  haven is perfectly situated in the middle of the two major cities. This 4* resort offers guests  both peace and tranquility amongst the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains. Views of the  surrounding nature and wilderness, as well as nearby waterfalls, streams and forests, allows  for family to explore and enjoy the very best of nature. The resort is suitable for families and  friends to share self-catering chalets with the ultimate comfort as well as a choice of a  mountain, garden or pool view.
  • Drakensberg Sun Resort – This 4* resort in the Drakensberg, provides guests with the ultimate luxury and comfort. This also includes spectacular mountain views. Its great variety of both indoor and outdoor  activities includes canopy tours, mountain biking, boating, horse riding, volleyball and trout  fishing for families seeking adventure. Guests at the resort can also enjoy the views of a  beautiful private lake.
  • Champagne Castle Hotel – This 4*family friendly stay is situated within a world heritage site offers exciting activities  and attractions for the whole family to enjoy. This accommodation offers a window to some  of the most beautiful mountains in the world. The resort is not short of activity options, such as horse riding for the teenagers, pony rides and animal farm with a petting zoo for the  little ones, Trout fishing for mom and dad, tennis courts, bowls, volleyball, badminton, croquet, rounders, games room with table tennis, pool and football, board games, darts and hiking trails for the friends and extended family who have also been included in the family  holiday.
  • Dalmore Guest Farm – Perfect weekend getaway. Nestled in the heart of the Drakensberg, this working farm offers luxurious accommodations, hearty, home-cooked meals and tons of activities for the entire family. Zip line and children’s play area
  • Sani Valley Lodge – A private nature lodge only 2 hours from Durban. It sits within the dramatic Drakensberg mountain range, borders a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the closest luxury lodge to the famous Sani Pass.
  • Inkosana Berg Lodge – The lodge is “eco friendly” and sustains itself from using resources of the land such as mountain water, fresh vegetables and herbs from the herb garden, solar lighting and outdoor eco showers, gas cookers and wood fired pizza oven.
  • Penwarn Farm Lodge -An Unforgettable Farm Lodge Experience. Penwarn Farm Lodge, in the heart of the Underberg, provides guests with that authentic farm experience, but without sparing any of the luxuries you’d expect to enjoy on your holiday. There a range of accommodation options available at Penwarn Farm Lodge, with choices to suit couples, friends and families alike.
  • Injisuthi Camp – Hiking and camping in Drakensberg parks such as this will be a memorable experience for older children and teenagers.

Family-friendly activities in the Drakensberg

  • Antbear Lodge horse trails – Ideal for beginners and children. The horses are very calm and rides are not about speed. For children the horses are led with someone walking with the horse or little children can get some exposure inside the round pen just to get used to things.
  • Falcon Ridge bird of prey show -Highly recommended (including a TripAdvisor Badge of Excellence), The Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Center is found in Champagne Valley in the Drakensberg. Open every day apart from Fridays, the “shows” are thrilling; highlighting the power, speed and intelligence of the birds. An insight into Falconry is included in the show and the public will learn how these birds of prey use their wings and sharp beaks and claws to their advantage.
  • Dragons Rock Reptile center – An exciting tour that is fun and educational. Come and feel the reptiles and learn all about them. Anything from snakes to hedgehogs. This really is a gem of an attraction for families and children.
  • Scootours and kidies adventures – Down hill scooters are lots of fun even for the adult kids. Here You will find zip lines, tree climbing, paintball, King Swing @ One Venue in Central Drakensberg
  • African Bird sanctuaryIncredibly informative, beautiful birds and the only place in the world that has Bearded Vultures in captivity (they’re part of a breeding program to try up their numbers) in Pietermaritzburg, and watch some awesome predators like owls, falcons and hawks in action in an open-air amphitheater and learn their stories. Don’t miss the vulture feeding sessions, on weekends and public holidays at 12:30. Afterwards, visit the Kestrel Cafe for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, while the kids burn off some extra energy at the jungle gyms or feeding the rabbits and guinea pigs.
  • All Out AdventuresAwesome activities to get the adrenaline pumping…nice coffee shop…safe…owner manages
  • Drakensberg Boys Choir – The Drakensberg Boys Choir School is one of the few South African Schools whose fame extends around the world. This school offers a unique educational opportunity for boys; it stimulates their spirit of adventure and exploration in our beautiful surroundings, while nurturing the development of the mind and expression in innate musical talent. Set on a 100Ha estate, the school draws its inspiration from the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, a World Heritage Site in KwaZulu-Natal, and is filled with the sound of boys singing, surely one of the purest of musical delights in the world. Don’t miss our popular Wednesday concerts at 15h30, every Wednesday during term time!
  • Piggly Wiggly Country Village – With various activities for the entire family, the Piggly Wiggly Country Village has something for everyone. The Candle Dipping Shop invites little piggies of all ages to create candle art by dipping their candles into different colours of wax while mom and dad shop or do some wine tasting at Meander Fine Wines. Kids can also play putt-putt at the Piggly Wiggly Putt Putt or get creative at the Zulu-Lulu Ceramic Boutique. Offering wholesome family fun and plenty of opportunities to bond with your kids, the Piggly Wiggly Country Village is a must visit this winter holiday. They also have great Kiddies’ Party Packages!
  • Karkloof and Drakensberg Canopy Tours – For an adventure activity that you and your kids will remember, go on a canopy tour with Karkloof Canopy Tours. Unleash your inner monkey by joining the Samango monkeys in the Karkloof forest canopy. Suitable for children from the age of seven, the two-hour eco-experience will afford you the opportunity to traverse from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended 35 meters from the forest floor. With nine platforms and eight cable slides, it’s a zig-zagging experience the whole family will enjoy.
  • Chocolate dipping at Cockolate Heaven – For a sweet experience that will certainly give you the parent-of-the-year award, go chocolate dipping at Chocolate Heaven. The chocolates are hand molded and are created with premium Belgian chocolate. It is an activity dunked in fun that will hopefully leave more chocolate in your belly than on your face.
  • Funtasy Toy Shop – After a term filled with learning and homework, don’t you think it’s time to reward your little bright spark? Funtasy Toy Shop offers a wide variety of different toys and games most of which are not found in commercial stores. The quaint toy store offers carefully handcrafted toys for both boys and girls. At Funtasy Toy Shop the kids can create their own special soft toy which has its own heart and passport. Hours of fun can be had with the unique bears.
  • Mandela Capture site – For an educational experience these holidays, why not visit the interesting Mandela Capture Site. Learn about how Mandela was captured on his return journey from Johannesburg and afterwards, have a snack at Truth Cafe. You can also visit the Impumelelo Bead Shop and sample the beaded artwork and jewelry produced by a group of women.
  • Hot Air Ballooning – This is one of the most romantic outings for adventurous couples. The ride takes you over the majestic mountains to have a bird’s eye view of the highest peak in SA. Breathtaking

Family-friendly day hikes in the Drakensberg

  • Main Caves at Giants Castle -This is a short and easy hike that leads to a site with reasonably good examples of bushman rock art. Whats particularly interesting for families with children is that they have setup an out door museum where children enjoy their exposure to lost culture.
  • Giants Castle Slack Packing Trail – A luxury slackpacking trail that runs between 3 lodges. You are accompanied by a professional hiking guide, all your meals are catered for and your luggage is transported to the next lodge. The trail is easy and children are welcome to accompany parents on the trail.
  • Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve – For a chance to see wildlife in the Natal Midlands, why not visit the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, a part of WESSA (The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa). Your kids will have a field day spotting giraffe, zebra and a variety of antelope in the reserve. With an indigenous tree trail surrounding the main Education Centre, self-guided walks enable mingling with the animals in the reserve. The largest part of the reserve is located in the stunning gorge below Howick Falls, guaranteeing impressive views.

Champagne Castle Peak

Champagne Castle Peak

This hiking trail is doable for most people who have a moderate to high fitness level and some hiking experience will make this a more enjoyable trip. Although not a true expedition style trip, you need to be prepared for all types of weather as this area is known to have all four seasons in one day. Care also needs to be taken on Gray’s Pass as the path is not always well defined and taking the wrong turn could lead you into a precarious position.

The trail starts at Monks Cowl main camp and follows the standard route up to the Sphinx and then on to Breakfast Stream where you will appreciate a well-earned break and a chance to fill up water bottles and from here the path is an easy walk to Blindman’s Corner. At the junction you want to turn right and for the next few kms you will be following the contour path all the way past Hlathikulu Neck, this section is the same route on the Zulu Cave hike. Follow the path down, but not all the way down to the river, there is a path that will lead off to your left hand side and will take you up into the Mhlatswini Valley. In front of you, you will see Gat Berg and the Dragons Back. The path will follow the side of the valley before dropping down into the river and you will follow the path crossing the river a few times before reaching Keith Bush Camp. The campsite is located on the right hand side of the river as you look up the valley and is suitable for a couple of tents. There is a feint path that leads down to the river and in summer water is not an issue. In summer you might have to look for water higher up or lower down. At the campsite you will be surrounded by towering peaks on 3 sides and be treated to an awesome sunset as the clouds get painted by the setting sun.

After and good night’s rest and packing up camp as early as possible, find the path that leads up the spur to Gray’s Pass. The climb is steep and the going will be slow with a heavy pack, remember to fill all you water bottles as there is no water on the pass until you reach the top of the pass. There are quite a few paths made by smugglers, find the path that’s in the best condition and follow it. At a rock band the path disappears and it looks like it carries on into the valley but it actually swings back and up the rock band. Take care here as a few people have gotten lost here. The path climbs up until you are in the shadow of the basalt cliffs and then contours around to the last little crux and then you enter the last rock scramble to the top. The scree is loose so make sure that the group is spaced out so that loose rocks will not hit each other. Once on top you follow the path to the stream and this is a good place to have a break and replenish your energy levels. Consult your map and plan a route to the top of Champagne Castle peak, the easiest route is to follow the valley as it tops out close to the highest point. On top of Champagne you will have awesome views over the KZN midlands and looking south you will see the other two highest points in South Africa namely Magadi and Injasuth Dome. Follow the same path back that you came in with. At the river you will find a few flat camping spots close to the small waterfall. Remember to practice LNT principals and carry out all your trash and if you need to go, walk away from the river to dig your cat hole.

Your last day is going to be a long day so an early start is to your advantage. The route follows that same one you took up but now in reverse. Take care at the crux as it does look quite intimidating when you stand above it. Find a save way down and take special care when wet. The downhill is taxing to your knees so go slowly and steadily. Be careful on the loose rocky section. When looking down the pass you can actually see the route the smugglers use and it is easy to follow it all the way back to Hlathikulu Neck. The contour path section is going to feel like it never ends but before long you will be at Blindman’s Corner and the end is in sight. Remember to fill your water bottle up regularly and to keep hydrated especially in summer. By the time you reach the last downhill by the Sphinx your legs will be tired so take care on the last section especially on the loose rocks. You will appreciate reaching the camp and if you are in time you can still enjoy a cold cooldrink at the little shop.

Zulu Hut and Inkunzi Cave

Zulu Hut and Inkunzi Cave

Situated in the foothills of the Central Drakensberg mountains, in the beautiful Champagne Valley, are three totally unique self-catering units. Inkunzi Cave has a San theme, with rock art and carvings on the walls. The Zulu Hut has an African theme and is decorated in true Zulu style and Diddly Squat has a “squatter” theme!

Each of the three units has a braai facility and is completely private from the main house and other units. Roads are tarred all the way. The area boasts several places of interest, as well as shops, restaurants and loads of adventure activities. We are situated only 2.5 hours from Durban and 4 hours from Johannesburg.

The pools on the property are not fenced and as a result children who cannot swim are not accommodated.

Self Catering Accommodation

Inkunzi Cave (sleeps 4)
Inkunzi Cave has a rock finish inside and out, with rock art and carvings on the walls, ensuring a real “bushman” experience. It is fully equipped for self-catering, with a cooker, microwave, fridge, electric fireplace heater, DStv and sound system. The lounge / kitchen area has a double sleeper couch and separate toilet and “rock” shower, and the main bedroom has a toilet and amazing rock bath.

The large rock pool adjoins the cave which makes it unsuitable for families with toddlers or very young children. It sleeps 2 couples comfortably although it only has one separate bedroom. Uninterrupted views of the mountains and the surrounding hills are amazing.

The Zulu Hut (sleeps 4)
The Zulu Hut is like a traditional ‘mud’ hut, but the additional bathroom and large double shower are done in a unique rock finish. It has a cooker,fridge, TV, microwave and electric fireplace heater. Lie on the bed in the separate bedroom and watch the mountain change to a champagne colour as the sun rises.

There is a double sleeper couch, as well as a suspended single bed, in the lounge / kitchen area. This is ideal for families with children. There is a lovely little splash pool outside the hut.

Diddly Squat (sleeps 2)
Our third unit, Diddly Squat, is ideal for couples wanting to experience something really different. It has a double bed in a bed-sit style single room, with shower and toilet. The most exciting feature is the old wood stove for cooking, although there is also a 2-plate gas cooker and a large fridge.

There’s no TV so bring along your laptop with lots of movies. As you lie in bed, or sit in the ‘kitchen’, you’ll be able to see Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak perfectly through the window. There’s also a small splash pool outside where you can cool down after your hike up the mountain! Enjoy a ‘budget’ style stay at real budget prices.

Zulu Cave

Zulu Cave

Zulu Cave is situated on a cul-de-sac and fell out of use for a number of years, but being only one of a few caves that can be used for overnight trips it’s worth a visit. The route follows the main path from the Monks Cowl forest station up to the Sphinx and then on to Breakfast Stream. From here you follow the path that slowly takes you closer to the mighty peaks towering over the area and joining the contour path at Blindman’s Corner. Turning left will take you to Injasuthi, but we want to turn right and follow the path all the way to Hlathikulu Neck. Some of the peaks that will tower over you will be Cathkin Peak, Sterkhorn, The Tower and the Amphlett. At the Neck follow the path that leads to Keith Bush Camp, and before you turn off to the left, you will find a feint path that leads off to your right while the main path goes down. The path leads down the spur and you might lose it in places but  follow it down the spur keeping a lookout for the proper path. Your aim is to follow the spur to where the two streams meet and after crossing the eMhlawazini River, stick to the left hand side of the stream and follow the path that will first cross a bigger stream and later a smaller stream before crossing a bulbous spur. Once around the spur, it turns up into the valley and you don’t actually see the cave until you actually walk into it. The trees in front of it, not only hides it but gives it protection from the wind and rain. The cave can sleep 12 people with comfort and the waterfall is a source of water as well as a good swimming spot in summer. Unfortunately you don’t have a view of the peaks from the cave, but depending on the time of the day you can explore the valley below the cave as far as you dare to.

Dragon Rock Reptile Center

Dragon Rock Reptile Center

Dragon Rock Reptile Centre is situated in the heart of the beautiful Drakensberg in Kwazulu Natal. We are a nature and reptile centre. We believe education is the most powerful weapon with which we can change the world around us. That is why we strive to educate people about the animals we have and animals in general.

Combining the nature centre with our reptile centre we aim to send people home more aware of their environment. This is a great child friendly activity

Falcon Ridge – Bird of prey show

Falcon ridge bird of prey display

Watch as our magnificent raptors perform in the skies above the Majestic Drakensberg Mountains…  For an unforgettable experience join Mark, Greg and Alison at Falcon Ridge.

Falcon Ridge is a bird of prey centre in the Champagne Valley that includes large birds rehabilitated from injury, and provides an excellent opportunity to see these magnificent sky warriors in action. Daily shows include an informative talk and a memorable performance of avian acrobatics, as the resident birds of prey swoop down to seize tasty morsels of meat midair.

Open every day except Friday …  weather permitting.

Flight Displays at 10:30a.m. and last about an hour.

Bring Hats and Sun Block.

Dragons Peak Helicopter flips

Dragons Peak Helicopter flips

Based at Cathedral Peak and Dragons Peak , take a one hour or a fifteen minute helicopter flight, sip a glass of champagne on top of the peaks, or enjoy a high altitude picnic lunch.

Fly to the battlefields in Northern Natal and get met by a guide who will tell the story or get flown to a number of golf courses in the area.

Let your imagination fly and we’ll take care of the rest.

Drakensberg Canopy Tours

Drakensberg Canopy Tours

Situated in an indigenous forest of the Central Drakensberg, in the shadow of the towering Cathkin Peak, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour® awaits you. Boasting Africa’s first elevated rock face walkway with a good mix of both cliff face and treetop platforms, and cable slides over the forest up to 60 metres high, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour® must automatically go to the top of your “must do” list.

Experience nature like never before as you slide through the forest canopy and enjoy a unique birds-eye view on the world around you. Set within the magnificent Blue Grotto forest, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour® is guaranteed to take your breath away. The forest is home to over 150 species of birds including the rare Bush Blackcap.

Led by trained guides as you glide between platforms perched in trees and on cliff faces, allow your senses to flood with the timeless atmosphere of the forest. The inspiring nature of the majestic Drakensberg, the ancient indigenous forest, waterfalls and the cascading stream make this an opportunity not to be missed.

What to Expect

The Drakensberg Canopy Tour® starts with a safety briefing and demonstration at our reception, after which you are kitted up with a full body harness, pulley, gloves and safety helmet.

Your group will then be transported in an open vehicle to the start of the tour. From the moment you launch off the first platform, a new world unfolds as you slide on steel cables across to the next viewpoint. At each platform we encourage you to enjoy the view while your guide points out interesting features and facts about the surrounding ecology.

Two professional guides escort all groups at all times. Your safety is paramount and there are strict procedures in place to ensure that you are constantly connected to either the cable or the platform. Each tour lasts typically 3 hours and upon returning to the reception you are given a well-deserved light meal.

Individuals & Small Groups

The tour will accommodate single individuals, couples and groups. Give us your preferred date and time of day and we will do our best to accommodate you

School Outings

Drakensberg Canopy Tour® is a fantastic idea for school outings. We offer discounted rates to school groups and can tailor make a package for your group. We guarantee a fun filled adventure for your pupils.

Accommodation can be arranged at a number of resorts in the area, depending on your budget.

Teambuilding

The Drakensberg Canopy Tour has linked with African Fig to bring you a truly unique teambuilding experience. Our frustration with traditional teambuilding is that while everyone has a lot of fun, there is often no real change/growth in our teams when we get back to the workplace. Together with African Fig we have developed a facilitated experience that not only builds your team spirit but also encourages personal growth whilst experiencing the unforgettable adventure of the Canopy Tour. Although the focus is on team dynamics, leadership, potential, and fear of unknown our aim is to tailor the day around your specific objectives and desired outcomes.

It is our wish is to provide you an opportunity to invest in your staff or team and to realise a positive outcome. For those who want to just chill and enjoy the enchanted forest we are able to arrange large group tours for business morale boosters and get-togethers. Ideal for end of year parties. Please discuss your requirements with us – we are able to provide and assist with all arrangements. We can accommodate up to 150 people per day depending on the type of package needed.

Your day may be put together as follows:

  • Arrive, tea and coffee
  • Facilitated interactive group session: introduction to teamwork
  • Facilitated interactive group session: overview and influences of fear
  • Tea, coffee and muffins
  • Facilitated interactive group session: transformational communication Canopy Tour® safety briefing and kit up
  • The Canopy Tour® experience (2.5hrs)
  • Light lunch or braai
  • Team wrap up, insights and conclusion
  • Certificate award ceremony
  • Departure

A film crew is available to take pictures and videos of your Canopy Tour® which is available as an additional purchase.

Scootours

family friendly drakensberg activities

Enjoy an exhilarating 5.4 km downhill descent on the monster mountain scooter, crossing steep terrain, meandering grasslands and an indigenous forest. A free 4×4 ride takes you to the top of the hill. Scooters are non-motorized making this Eco-friendly. These Swiss-designed scooters are used in the Alps during the summer season on the ski slopes when the snow is gone.

Drakensberg Scootours are 4 hours away from Johannesburg and two and a half hours away from Durban, the perfect gateway off the N3.

Scootours Drakensberg is based in the Central Drakensberg, KZN, South Africa at Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort. We are located on the R600 via Winterton next to the world famous Drakensberg Boys’ Choir.

Blogging about the Drakensberg

Blogging about the Drakensberg
Monk's Cowl National Park
That silly idea I’ve always had about one blog per country unless I live there is becoming untenable. Finally the Drakensberg has done it. After three trips to South Africa I finally made it to the Drakensberg Mountains and if I would have known how stunning it is I would have been here sooner.Our favourite type of exploring involves mountains so in South Africa that had to involve the Drakensberg. The dilemma was whether to go on a couple of multiday hikes or numerous single day hikes. Multiday hikes would take us well off the beaten path but would mean taking camping and cooking equipment so lugging large bags – not just on the hikes but also for the rest of our time in the country.

The infamous Chain Ladders
The infamous Chain Ladders
We decided on choosing a few bases to do day hikes from, which also meant hiring a car would be more cost effective and we wouldn’t have problems of parking it in one place then somehow getting back to it after a multiday A to B trek.
There are a lot of potential hiking destinations in the Drakensberg and we chose three based on things like Google Images searches, an ancient Lonely Planet and reviews of places to stay. The accommodation inside the national parks can be really expensive whereas some of the other places to stay advertised as being in the Drakensberg are actually quite far away. The original plan was for one destination in the South African Drakensberg and the rest of the time in Lesotho but that had to change when we found out at the last minute that we needed a visa.Royal Natal National Park

Rather than stay down in the national park, we stayed up on the ridge at Witsieshoek. This was definitely a good idea. The views were great in all directions and especially across to the Amphitheatre. There are lots of hikes that could be done directly from the lodge without having to drive. However, we mostly chose it for its proximity to the Sentinel car park which was about 20-minutes away up a sometimes terrible dirt road (though we managed it in a little hire car). The Sentinel car park is the start of the lovely then scary then lovely hike up onto the top of the Amphitheatre and is reputed to be the easiest way up onto the High Berg plateau. The scary bit I’m talking about is the infamous chain ladders. I’d read about these and was looking forward to a bit of a via-ferrata style climb to add some excitement. However, they were higher, longer and wobblier than I expected. The AmphitheatreThe AmphitheatreIt never crossed our minds to not climb them, especially seeing as a very large group of teenagers with big rucksacks had recently passed us who must have come down them and because we had read they get easier as you get higher, but I occasionally had a bit of a shake going on in my hands and knees. Up on the top was a different world from the lush green gorges and high cliffs that we’d been walking among and looking down on. Above the ladders, it is a fairly flat rocky plateau with little vegetation. There should have been a great view off the Amphitheatre escarpment, including of Tugela Falls, the second highest in the world at 948 m, however, we could see precisely nowt. The clouds were blowing up the valley and sitting just off the escarpment, occasionally blowing over the top reducing visibility to just metres. Our plan was to hike up to Mont-aux-Sources and when the clouds came in we followed a compass bearing, when they cleared we realised we had done a pretty big loop and gone up the mountain the long way round. Although, Battle Cave, Injisuthiour route was much prettier than the shorter and direct route down. Going back down the chain ladders was again a little leg wobbly especially as there was a bit of a queue including several hysterical people who wouldn’t get onto the ladders. They may well be still up there… This ended up being the only hike we did in the Drakensberg when we actually saw any people. The following day we set off in thick fog towards Surprise Ridge and Cannibal Cave. When the fog eventually cleared, it was beautiful and we only saw three shepherds all day who tried to sell us some unidentifiable meat! I will point out that our map and route descriptions talked about paths down into the Royal Natal National Park valley from the ridge we hiked along somewhere near Cannibal Cave but we couldn’t find them. Every time we looked over the edge where the path should be there were just vertical drops so bear that in mind if you are out that way.

Monk’s Cowl National Park

Unexpectedly the photos from Monk’s Cowl have turned out to be the most dramatic and, although it’s not that we didn’t appreciate

The infamous Chain Ladders

it at the time, there were parts of this hike that were a bit boring but looking back it appears to have been entirely spectacular. Monk’s Cowl has lots of short loops that are well marked and last a few hours each that could be pieced together into a lovely day. We decided to get up above the marked routes onto the lesser frequented paths. Unfortunately, these turned out to be much less frequented paths so, while easy to follow, they were a bit overgrown and scratchy on the legs. We saw a couple of people at the very beginning and a couple at the very end, otherwise nobody all day.

Injisuthi

It might look close to Monk’s Cowl, it is close to Monk’s Cowl, but the road in is a shocker. If I would have known it was that bad I wouldn’t have taken the little hire car in. But we made it, albeit going extremely slowly for the final 10 or so km weaving around boulders and stubborn cows. The setting is stunning and the hike up to Battle Cave was a nice change from our previous days’ hikes. There were no serious climbs, just little ups and downs along a river valley with a few stream-crossings thrown in though along a surprisingly overgrown path.

The clouds mark the edge of the AmphitheatreThe clouds mark the edge of the Amphitheatre We’d been in a few caves while in the Drakensberg to look for the San rock art and Battle Cave was by far the best we saw. The San Bushman are the earliest still-in-existence inhabitants of Africa, who used to inhabit these parts before being pushed out to continue their hunter-gatherer lifestyle now mostly in the Kalahari Desert. Their cave paintings are anything from a few hundred to a few thousand years old. Battle Cave is so called as, in addition to the cattle, rhinos, giraffes, and other animals as depicted elsewhere, there are a lot of people with bows and arrows seemingly having a big fight – though some reckon this is symbolism for something rather than representing an actual battle. Saw 5 people all day.

Sani Pass

Our final Drakensberg hMonk's Cowl National ParkMonk's Cowl National Parkike was up the pass from Sani Top so over the border in Lesotho. See the next blog for a tale of climbing Thabana Ntlenyana; Lesotho and Southern Africa’s highest mountain. Saw one person all day.

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