The “mountains of the dragons” can only be described with words such as awesome and spectacular. This safari entails a lot of walking in the mountains and requires some degree of physical fitness. The walks are over relatively short distances but the terrain can sap energy. Accommodation is provided in hotels and parks board camps. Some wildlife may be encountered, but this safari is really about spectacular mountain scenery.
These mountains had their origin some 200 million years ago when the vast land mass known as Gondwanaland (comprising Antartica, South America, New Zealand, Australia, Africa, India and many of the islands of the Indian and Atlantic oceans) still existed as a super-continent. About 160 million years ago Gondwanaland experienced catastrophic eruptions that caused molten lava pile up to a height of about 1500 metres. The lava then cooled whereupon the continents of Africa, South America, Australia and Antartica were created. About 145 millions years of weathering has formed the Drakensberg of today – a 200 km long spectacular mountain range between Mont-aux-Sources in the north and Sani Pass in the south.
The dominant feature is the mighty wall of the Drakensberg escarpment. In the south, between Cathedral Peak and Giant’s Castle, the “Little Berg” with its plateaux’s, spurs, waterfalls and forests are equally prominent. The resulting scenery is some of the most breathtaking on planet earth.
Need comfortable walking boots, sun screen, rain coat, a hat and sunglasses. Rain and snow is possible any time during the year. This is one of Africa’s summer rainfall areas and 85% of the rainfall occurs between October and March, the wettest period being January to March. The summer mornings are usually clear with bright sunlight providing excellent photographic opportunities with excellent natural lighting. Thunderstorms occur in the afternoons but are usually of a short duration.
Snow can occur at any time between April and September, but have historically been recorded in each month of the year. The snows are usually restricted to the summit and near summit areas, but may also occur in the low lying areas. It rarely lies for very long except for the south facing slopes at high altitudes.
The Drakensberg climate is generally conducive to outdoor recreation with few drawbacks for visitors, but one should be prepared for all weather conditions
Major Drakensberg attractions:
- Breathtaking mountain scenery
- Hiking, walks and climbs
- San (i.e. “Bushman”) rock paintings
- Horse riding and horse trails in certain areas
- Birdlife ( almost 300 species have been recorded)
- Wildlife (e.g. eland, black wildebeest, blesbok, reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, grey rhebok, red hartebeest, klipspringer, bushbuck, etc)
Places typically visited on a Drakensberg tour:
- Royal Natal Natal National Park
- The Cathedral Peak region
- The Champagne Castle and Injasuti areas
- Giant’s Castle Game Reserve
- Sani Pass