5 reasons to visit Kwazulu Natal and the Drakensberg Mountains

KwaZulu Natal lies on South Africa east coast and offers huge tourism experiences with two World Heritage sites, fabulous beaches, the Big Five, historic battlefields and a colorful Zulu culture. With the Drakensberg Mountains at its center Kwazulu Natal offers cultural experiences, beaches, wildlife experiences, food and wine and some riveting historical tours of its battlefields.

Culture

This historic Zulu kingdom is steeped in history and culture, from ancient San Bushmen rock art sites in the UNESCO World Heritage uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountain range, South Africa’s highest mountain range, to a living museum in Hluhluwe where traditional Zulu dancing and craftwork are demonstrated. The remnants of the British colonial era blend with Zulu, Indian and Afrikaans traditions to give this province a rich cultural diversity.

Beaches

Beautiful beaches stretch every which way from the gateway city of Durban and, being on the Indian Ocean coast, the added benefit is that the water is actually warm while shark nets and lifeguards ensure that time in the water surfing and swimming is spent safely. Alluring cafes and sophisticated restaurants line the stylish Umhlanga Rocks area near Durban, perfect for downtime after a long international flight.

Wildlife

Abundant wildlife can be experienced along the Elephant Coast to the north of Durban. Within iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a 328,000 hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site benefitting from beautiful beach and reef habitats of the Indian Ocean on one side and steamy tropical lake, forest and wetland habitats on the other, visitors can canoe, trek, fish and wander along stunning beaches in search of leatherback turtles, dolphins and whales. Inland at Phinda Mkuze, a private game reserve, you can stay in luxurious safari camps and see all the Big Five as well as a host of other wildlife including wild dogs. This area is known for its thriving black and white rhino population, following concerted conservation efforts.

Food and wine

Take the Midlands Meander, a food and wine trail where farm stalls like Piggly Wiggly, cafes and restaurants beckon. Viticulture is in its first decade of development but there are already notable labels including Abingdon and Lion’s River to sample along the way. Finish the Meander with a stay at Antbear Drakensberg Lodge where you will be awed with good food and some of the most artistic styled buildings that you will have ever experienced.

Luxury Cave at antbear Drakensberg Lodge

Luxury Cave at Antbear Drakensberg Lodge

Battlefields

No trip to KwaZulu Natal would be complete without a stay in the Battlefields. An area made famous by the Anglo-Boer Wars. The quiet hills now ring with the voices of expert guides who tell visitors of South Africa’s bloodiest chapter in history, of the struggle at Isandlwana where the British were defeated by the Zulu in 1879 and then just days later how the British defended Rorke’s Drift so gallantly.

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4 comments on “5 reasons to visit Kwazulu Natal and the Drakensberg Mountains
  1. Reon van Wyk says:

    Dear Sir/ Madam

    Please send me some information of activities for the Drakensberge. Also affordable accommodation at the Drakensberge.
    Thanks.Reon van Wyk. Cell nr.+264 81 274 0499

  2. Kylie says:

    Please email me different places to visit in drakensberg and things to do. I want to have a list of things to do when I go there in December. Thank you

    • wpadmin says:

      • Bushman Rock Art. Game Pass Shelter in the Kamberg offer the most exquisite examples of San rock art that can be seen anywhere in South Africa. Not only is the rock art very well preserved but the spiritual aspects of the rock art are clearly visible. This rock art site is considered to be the key to deciphering all bushman rock art and is also referred to as the Rosetta Stone of bushman rock art. There are a number of other rock art sites available both guided and unguided. This rock art experience is guided by a local guide from the village. The tour starts with a lovely video presentation which changes the dynamics of the tour into a conversation. And often we find that this tour becomes the highlight of our guests South Africa experience

      • Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains. Giants Castle Game Reserve offers the most spectacular hiking trails available in the Drakensberg. Hikes start from the highest of the KZN Wildlife camps giving the advantage of not having to hike up the extra 500 meters of elevation. There are hiking trails both easy and difficult and the scenery is as dramatic as it comes. This reserve is also famous for its caves and shelters are rich in San rock art. There are a number of other parks that make up the Drakensberg and the location of the lodge makes Royal Natal, Cathedral Peak, Monks Cowl, Injisuthi, Giants Castle, Highmoor and Kamberg all options for day visits

      • Vulture hides Another popular attraction is the Lammergeyer hide at Giants Castle where Lammergeyers (an endangered bird of prey) and Cape Vultures can be viewed and photographed feeding.

      • Game viewing There are a number of game viewing options including The Weenen Game Reserve, Spionkop Game Reserve and Zulu Waters Private Game Reserve. Malaria free with options of horse trails inside Zulu Waters Private Game Reserve

      • Horse Trails We offer horse trails right here at the lodge that are ideal for beginners. We practice the arts of horse whispering to train our horses and go for slow outrides on the farm. A number of other horse trail providers in the area offer varying horse trail options. Trails go up into the Drakensberg foothills or even in a game reserve. All horse trails are professionally guided trails. There are also options for a sun downer ride and day tips for more experienced rider.

      • Midlands Meander Antbear Lodge is part of the famous craft meander. The old world charm and tranquil countryside has attracted a new breed of people who have taken residence among the farmers. These are creative crafters, sculptures, potters, weavers and leather workers who ply their trade in quaint old cottages and farmhouses and welcome the curious. The Midlands is dotted with cosy country inns just perfect for unhurried lunches or just tea and home made jam scones.

      • The Mandela Capture Site. An impressive steel sculpture and visitor centre has been created to give full recognition to the significance of this spot. Designed by artist Marco Cianfanelli (of Apartheid Museum fame) with the help of architect Jeremy Rose, the sculpture creates something of an optical illusion. From a distance, the 50 steel poles of varying heights simply look like a random collection of poles, but as you approach to within 35m of the sculpture, they merge to form an image of Mandela’s face. The new capture site museum is well worth a visit.

      • The Howick Falls. The Howick falls makes a worth while day trip. The waterfall falls some 90 m and the little trail down into the gorge is wonderful. On the way back why not stop at La Lampara the most excellent Italian restaurant in our region. Also the Karkloof Falls are nearby and are even more worth visiting than the Howick Falls

      • Tugela Falls The Amphitheatre, Oliviershoek pass and the Sterkfontein dam make a lovely drive in the northern part of the Drakensberg. For the more adventurous a visit to the top of the Drakensberg is essential. The 2½ hour trail to the top of the escarpment takes you to the edge of the Tugela falls, the second highest waterfall in the world. It falls some 950m and in Winter has been known to freeze solid. The last leg of the trail involves the climbing of a chain ladder to get to the top. For those without a head for heights the drive to the start of the trail is one of the most beautiful roads that one could imagine.

      • Karkloof Canopy Tour Situated in the tranquil Natal Midlands, the Karkloof Canopy Tour offers an unequalled experience gliding along steel cables between eight canopy level platforms built high within the Karkloof forest. Safely harnessed in state of the art climbing gear and under close supervision of a professional team of guides, prepare yourself for a three hour adventure that will take you amongst the birds, monkeys, trees and plants of this magnificent forest. The slides are up to 175m long and provide unforgettable rides and spectacular views of the forest canopy including a little waterfall.

      • Sani Pass Why not go on a day trip to the Sani Pass, if you have a 4×4 then it makes for wonderful driving. The back roads hug the berg and the lack of other vehicles along this way is almost suspicious. 4×4 Tours up the pass can also be arranged.

      • Golf A number of golf courses can be found in the area, both 9 and 18 holes. Boschhoek is only 40 minutes away and it is a stunning course. The Champagne Sports Resort is an hour away. This top 30 ranked 18 hole championship golf course has been rated as SA’s most beautiful golf course in recent years with the clubhouse rated in the top five 19th holes in South Africa.

      • The Drakensberg Boys Choir The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School is an internationally acclaimed choir school, situated in the Drakensberg. The boys have toured both nationally and internationally. They perform a wide range of music from classic choral work to modern arrangement and their African choral work and gumboot dancing is spell-binding. They hold weekly concerts on Wednesday at 3.30pm during term times. Bookings essential

      • Hot Air Ballooning If you don’t mind getting up early, this is something special. The balloon flight launch from the front lawn of the lodge so all our guests need to do is fall out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and become involved in the inflation of the hot air balloon. The views are incredible. So is the silence. And it is followed by a champagne breakfast.

      • Helicopter Flips Experience the mighty Drakensberg from the seat of one of the helicopters operating in the Central Drakensberg or from Cathedral Peak Flights vary in duration from 20 minutes upwards. The scenery is awe-inspiring and this is an experience never to be forgotten. You may even land on the little Berg and enjoy a picnic complete with champagne before continuing your flight and returning to base

      • Fly Fishing Fly fishing in the Drakensberg? If you would like us to recommend a good guide for a fly fishing day, we can certainly do so. For rivers it is the headwaters of the Bushman’s River (in the Giant’s Castle nature reserve) or the Little Mooi (in the Kamberg Valley). Both in the foothills of the Central Drakensberg. Dams? Too many to count. If you have never tried fly-fishing, it is a fabulous day out in beautiful surroundings.

      • Hlatikulu Crane Sanctuary Take a guided tour around the Hlatikulu Crane Sanctuary. It’s free. But donations are appreciated. There are only 200 – 300 Wattled Crane left (in the world) and they’re working hard to try and bring these magnificent birds back from the verge of extinction. This is a Drakensberg conservation effort that deserves your support.

      • Bird of prey display Falcon Ridge is home to a wide variety of raptors, some of whom have been rehabilitated after suffering from injuries. Daily shows begin at 10.30 am (except Fridays) See these magnificent birds fly and feed off the wing. The show includes a presentation by the excellent handlers so you can learn more about these magnificent birds. During peak holiday season, and weather permitting, they offer a second show each day.

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