For the Tourism Trade and Visitors to the Drakensberg
Autumn 2021
Copyright: Cathkin Booking and Management Services

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Southern Ground Hornbill (Source: Pixabay)



Welcome to the latest edition of Berg Times a mobile-friendly e-newsletter aimed at keeping the tourism trade and visitors to the Northern and Central Drakensberg informed about this spectacular region. Autumn regarded as one of the best, if not the most memorable season of the year to visit the Drakensberg. It is the time of weddings, perfect weather for hiking and a range of special events in this area. The days are warm and sunny. There is very seldom and any likelihood of rain and the evenings are cool enough to light a log fire in one of the many accommodation establishments and enjoy a good glass of local red wine. 

These beautiful mountain’s scenery changes from a dark lush green to spectacular hues of red, yellow and brown. Sunsets are spectacular with the full spectrum of yellow, orange, red and purple on display. The night sky also puts on an exceptional array of stars and planets due to the crisp and crystal-clear skies.

As mentioned earlier, Autumn is the perfect time to hike in this area. The Northern and Central Drakensberg has one of the greatest concentrations of hiking trails in Africa. In this edition, as has been the case in the previous edition, a specific hike is highlighted. In this case, the Makhulamane Rock Hike.




Autumn in the Drakensberg (Source: Tourism KwaZulu-Natal)

Other articles in this edition include:

- Drakensberg's Red List birds;

- Drakensberg photographers;

- Makhulumane Rock Hike;

- Willcox's passion for San Rock Art;

- The Culfargie and Bell Park Community; and 

- Drakensberg's Tourism Market.



Drakensberg's Red List Birds

The Drakensberg has some 18 birds on Birdlife South Africa's Red List' of these three are critically endangered and six endangered.

The critically endangered birds are the Wattle Crane and Bearded Vulture. 

Wattled Crane (Source: Pixabay)

The endangered birds include the Grey Crowned Crane, Martial Eagle, Southern Ground Hornbill, Black Harriet,  Secretarybird and Cape Vulture. 


Cape Vulture (Source: Nick Kwan Unsplash)

The other birds on the 'Red List' are:

- Verreaux's (Black)  Eagle;

- Striped Flufftail;

Half-collared Kingfisher;

- White-bellied Korhaan (Bustard);

- Short-tailed Pipit;

- Yellow-breasted Pipit;

- Drakensberg Rockjumper; 

- Gurney's Sugarbird;

- Black Stork; and

Ground  Woodpecker. 

Several initiatives exist in the Central and Drakensberg to protect the 'Red List' birds. The most notable being, firstly, 'Vulture Restaurants'. Vulture Restaurants are bird hides where poison-free animal carcasses are placed. These facilities contribute to the survival of these birds. The most significant of these hides is the hide at Bergview estate driven by Roy Strydom, the Chairman of the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Honoury Officer team for Monks Cowl. A Vulture Count is held on the first Saturday closest to the 5 September, 'World Vulture Awareness Day'. Some 9 Bearded Vultures and 500 Cape Vultures were counted at the 'Bergview restaurant' in 2020. This tally was the most significant count in the Drakensberg and represented a substantial increase on previous counts. A significant achievement!

Secondly, Monks Cowl and Surrounds Southern Ground Hornbill Monks Cowl Forum. This initiative is a Whats App Forum that monitors a well-known Southern Ground Hornbill family and other groups in the Cathkin Park or 'Champagne Valley' area. Members provide 'dropped pins' of their sightings and photos of this rare bird. This is an important case study of the movement and behavioural patterns of this hornbill.


Drakensberg Photographers

Carl Smorenberg

Carl Smorenberg is a renowned South African landscape photographer. He is an exceptionally passionate photographer of Drakensberg scenes and from the edge of this escarpment.

Carl holds regular workshops and guided photographic tours. He recently settled in Hampshire in the United Kingdom.

He is a former student of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a scholar of Pinetown High School.

Makhulumane Rock Hike

The Makhulumani Rock hike is a moderate day hike of some four hours and nine kilometres. This hike begins at Monks Cowl Camp or Bergview Estate. From Monks Cowl follow the path and signs to Makhulumani Rock. Cross the Sterkspruit River until you meet a junction at the co-ordinates -29.04022 and 29.39365. Turn left up a path that meanders up a small valley and stream.

You will encounter the large 'monolith' Makhulumani, breathtaking forests, waterfalls, and a steep section of wooden ladders that takes you to the top of this valley.




Hiking Tips

Sign the mountain rescue register;

Wear sturdy hiking boots and carry a walking pole;

Wear a light rucksack even in the case of a walk;

Ensure it contains food items for at least one day, warm clothing and a poncho (the weather in the Berg can change suddenly), sufficient water, a small medical aid kit, a cell phone, map, torch, whistle and a box of matches; and ideally a bivy bag;

In case you encounter a bushfire try to get as quickly as possible to a small grove of trees or light a fire break around you. At worst run directly through the fire and roll;

If caught in a lightning storm, urgently head for a forest. At worst squat over a piece of insulating material and ideally cover your self with a poncho or raincoat. Discard any metal items and leave your backpack a distance from you. Do not lie down or stand under an isolated tree; and

Walk-in a group of at least three persons.


Willcox's passion for San Rock Art


A.R. Willcox 1911 to 1993 (Source: The Willcox Family)

The late Alexander Robert Willcox contributed substantially to San Rock Art documentation in the Central Drakensberg, the rest of this region and South Africa. He was a Quantity Surveyor by profession, but spent as much of his spare time as possible hiking to and reporting on San and other forms of rock art. He was the first researcher to record rock art in South Africa through colour photography. His love for rock art began when he joined the mountain club of South Africa and whilst he plied his profession in Johannesburg. He was one of the founding members of the South African Rock Art Research Association. His view regarding the literal interpretation of San Rock Art is highly regarded. 

He retired to the Central Drakensberg and 'Round The Bend', now the 'Dingaans Retreat' complex, at the early age of sixty to pursue his passion of recording rock art. He passed under tragic circumstances in 1993.

His son, Dave and daughter, Sandy, fondly remember taking part in these excursions and meeting with other renowned individuals such as the Pagers. This couple is famous for their recordings of the rock art of the Didima Gorge or Ndedema, the title of their much sort after publication of their paintings of these frescos.

A.R Willcox's books are now collector's items:

- The Drakensberg Bushmen and Their Art, 1990;

- Footprints on a Southern Land, 1988;

- Building of the Berg, 1987;

- Great River: the story of the Orange River. Winterton: Drakensberg, 1986;

Shipwreck and Survival on the South East Coast of Africa, 1984;

- The Rock Art of Africa, 1984;

- Southern Land: The Prehistory And History Of Southern Africa, 1976;

- The Archaeology of the Drakensberg Region of Natal, 1975;

- Rock paintings of the Drakensberg, Natal and Griqualand East, 1973;

- The Rock Art of South Africa, 1963; and

- Rock Paintings of the Drakensberg, 1956.

Additionally, he published a wide range of scientific papers a list of these is available at


The Culfargie and Bell Park Community

Culfargie is one of the most significant 'camps' or conservation areas in the Central Drakensberg. Culfargie and the residents on its border and Bell Park Dam form an important community. This community includes an important component of the AmaSwaZi Traditional Tribal Authority.

Bell Park Dam is a well-known fishing destination attraction. The area surrounding it is also an essential provider of tourism accommodation. The Cayley Lodge Resort and many well established B&B's such as Bell Park B&B and self-catering facilities are found in this area.

The Bell Park Dam was part of the Killen's Farm Bell Park, which was expropriated some 30 years ago. This dam was officially opened on 11 April 1986 The Killen family continue to farm in the area and operate Bell Park B&B.

The D53 accesses this area from the R600 and D277.

The view from Bell Park Peak

Drakensberg's Tourism Market

The Central and Northern Drakensberg has several major resorts that accommodate well more than 100 guests and a significant concentration of smaller self-catering, B&B's, lodges and Guest Houses. These are easily accessed from this regions core markets, namely Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. This area is a drive of about four hours from Gauteng and two and a half hours from Durban. It is possible to fly into Pietermaritzburg and cut down the driving time into this destination. 

The Drakensberg is positioned at the consolidation or mature stage of Butler's Tourism Area Lifecycle model in terms of domestic tourism, and the exploration phase with respect to the foreign market. The domestic market is mainly made up of leisure holiday tourists that self-drive to the area. They tend to be couples or family groups. There are the occasional conference and incentive group that visit the area. Particularly to resorts such as Champagne Sports Resort, Alpine Heath and Drakensberg Sun. These are the 'Well-to-do Mzansi Families', 'Spontaneous Budget Explorers' and 'Seasoned Leisure Seekers'.

Foreign tourists are predominantly self-drive young and middle age adventure seekers (Next Stop South Africa's and Wanderlusters from the Millennial and Generation X groupings). They are attracted to the area for hiking and other adventure opportunities such as ziplining, hot air ballooning and helicopter flips.

According to South African Tourism, some 65,000 foreign tourists visit the Drakensberg on an annual basis. This segment is approximately 8% of the foreign tourists that visit KwaZulu-Natal and 1% of all foreign tourists to South Africa. This portion seems to be a growing market as some 47,000 were estimated to visit this area in 2016.

It can be assumed that the nature of this market is in line with the foreign makeup of the KwaZulu-Natal overseas tourism market that predominantly comes from the UK, Germany, USA and France.

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal has determined that some 186,000 domestic tourists visit the Drakensberg on an annual basis. The key markets being the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Drakensberg's Weather Charts


Drakensberg Tourism Directory

Download the Drakensberg Experience Map

Adventure Operators

Active Escape

All Out Adventures

Berg Adventures

Cathkin Trails for Mountain Bikers

Drakensberg Ballooning

Drakensberg Canopy Tours

Drakensberg Hikes

Drakensberg Mountain Bike Trails

Dragon Peaks Resort

Four Rivers Adventures

Hot Air Ballooning SA


The Northern Horse

Ushaka Horse Trails

Westline Aviation

Battlefield Sites



Doornkop Laager site


Fort Durnford

Rensburgskop Battlefield

Siege of Ladysmith (various)


Thukela Heights (Various)



Willow Grange

Winston Churchill Capture Site

Zaailaager / Saailaager


Alkamia B&B

At Home

Bell Park B&B and S/C

Bingelela Restaurant / Pizzeria & B&B

Cathkin Cottage B&B

Easby B&B

Itumeleng B&B Bergville

Nzima B&B

Tugela Fall B&B


Amphitheatre Backpackers

Drakensberg Bush Lodge

Inkosana Lodge

Booking Agencies & Tour Operators

Africa Ignite

Berg Adventures

Cathkin Booking & Management Services

Cathkin Park Reservations

Golf got you

Ron Gold Historical Tours

Camping & Caravanning

Mountain Splendour Eco-Resort

Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort

Monks Cowl Camp

Royal Natal Camp

Injisuthi Camp

Coffee Shops & Restaurants

Ady's Coffee Shop

Berg Air Lifestyle Centre

Bingelela Restaurant / Pizzeria & B&B

Canaan Coffee & Gifts

Canaan Coffee & Gifts

Chefs Junction

Chocolate Memories

Chocolate Memories

Drakensberg Brewery

Pig & Plough

Scrumpy Jack Farmstall

The Coffee Patch

The Griller Restaurant

Thokozisa Restaurant

Valley Bakery

Waffle Hut

Conference Venues

Alpine Heath

Alpine Heath

ATKV Drakensville Resort

ATKV Drakensville Resort

Cathedral Peak Hotel

Champagne Castle Hotel

Champagne Sport Resort

Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort

Little Switzerland Hotel

Sandford Park Country Hotel

The Nest Hotel

Wits End Mountain Resort

Craft Shops


Cedarwood Village Shopping Centre

Chocolate Memories

Farm Friends Farmstall

KwaZulu-Natal Weavers

Sandra's se Winke;

The Oaks Supermarket

The Outspan


Game Reserves/ Conservation Areas

Kwaggashoek Game Ranch

Slievyre Game Farm

Spionkop Nature Reserve

Weenen Nature Reserve

Zulu Waters Game Reserve 

The Drakensberg World Heritage Site


Hlalanathi Berg Resort

Champagne Sports Resort

Cathedral Peak Hotel

Monks Cowl Golf Resort

Guest Houses

Ashtonville Terraces Guesthouse

Monte Vista

The Riverhouse

Lodges, Hotels & Resorts

Alpine Heath

Ardmore Guest Farm

Blue Haze Country Lodge

Cathedral Peak Hotel

Champagne Castle Hotel

Champagne Sports Resort

Cheetah Ridge Lodge

Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort

Esiweni Lodge

Ezulwini Berg Resort

Hlalanathi Berg Resort

Inkungu Lodge

Kwaggashoek Game Ranch

Little Switzerland Hotel

Mackaya Bella Lodge

Monks Cowl Golf Resort

Montusi Mountain Lodge

Sandford Park Country Hotel

Spionkop Lodge

The Cavern Resort & Spa

The Nest Hotel



Sandra se Winkel


Other Attractions

Cathedral Peak Wine Estate

Dragon Rock Reptile Centre

Drakensberg Boys Choir School

Drakensberg Brewery

Falcon Ridge Raptor Centre

H and D Honey Products

Public San Rock Art Sites

Injisuti Camp, guided tour to Battle Cave

Main Cave, Giants Castle Camp


Accommodation at Trek Trips & Trails

Alpine Heath

Alpine Heath

Ama Casa Self-catering Cottages

Amphitheatre Backpackers

ATKV Drakensville Resort

Bell Park B&B and S/C

Birdsong Cottages

Celtis cottage

Champagne Cottages

Champagne Lane Resort

Champagne Valley Resort

Dalmore Guest Farm

Didima Camp

Drakensberg Dream Cottages

Drakensberg Hikes

Drakensview S/C

Fernwood Shareblock (Pty) Ltd

Giants Castle Camp

Glenside Farmhouse

Goodhope Country Escape

Graceland Self-Catering Cottages

Highbourne Cottages

Hill Billy Cottages

Ihophe(Turtle Dove)

Ihophe(Turtle Dove)

iKhaya Lodge

Ikhayamalafu Mountain Hideaway

Ikhunzi Cave

Ledges Retreat

Little Acres

Linglela Lodge

Nambiti House

Oak Cottage

Ondini Guest House

Ouma se Opstal

Peak View Cottage


River Crossing

Rockwood Earth Lodge

Slievyre Game Farm

Sungubala Eco Camp

Swallowfield Rondavels

Tendele/ Royal Natal

Vultures View

Wits End


Alpine Heath

Champagne Castle Hotel

Champagne Sports Resort

Monks Cowl Golf Resort

Spoilt Green Eco-Spa

The Nest Hotel

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