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

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Common Eland - Taurotragus Oryx (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. The winter chill tends to come slightly earlier to the Drakensberg than the official commencement date of 21 June and extends slightly later than 22 September. Winter transforms the lush green landscapes of this rugged mountain range into various hues of brown. These turn to beautiful shades of orange and pink as the sun rises later in the morning and descends earlier in the evening.

This 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.

Early morning is a 'frosty affair' when the grasslands turn white, and you can hear the distinct crunch of ice beneath your feet. It is a magnificent scene to behold.

The period between mid-morning and mid-afternoon are relatively warm. This is a perfect time to take a long walk or hike along one of our many trails in the Central and Northern Drakensberg. Strong inland high-pressure systems cause this pleasant weather.

Evenings are times to cosy up with your family or loved one in front of a crackling fire. To play board games, eat a hearty meal with a good bottle of red wine, read a good novel, relax, and sleep in a little later than usual.

You may also be able to experience the wondrous sight of snow on the high peaks of the Drakensberg due to the odd Cold Front creeping through. Or the marvel of an unusual snowfall at a low level. These are always festive occasions when families build snowmen, and snowball fights are the order of the day.



Drakensberg Winter

Other articles in this edition include:

- Drakensberg's Eland;

- Drakensberg photographers;

-  Thukela Gorge Hike;

- The “Osborn” Trail

- David Lewis-Williams's spiritual interpretation of San Rock Art

- Drakensberg's Trees

- Farmers Lawn Market



Drakensberg's Eland

The Drakensberg is home to the second-largest antelope, the Common or Southern Eland. This magnificent creature is often seen on the slopes of this escarpment, especially in the Lotheni, Giants Castle and private estates in the Monk's Cowl Camp area.

Eland Group, Drakensberg Dream Estate

The distinguishing features of the Common Eland are its size, straight spiral horns and dewlap. Their colour is brownish-yellow, which lightens with age. The average height of these browsers and grazers is 1,7 metres. They weigh some 700 kilograms.

The San revered them, and they formed an essential component of these people's diet.  These people believed that Eland was an intermediary between God and their ancestors. Eland could assist them in engaging with their ancestors and God. Eland is often depicted as entering a crack in a rock face. San believed that rock art sites were ‘veils’ to the spiritual world. These sites are thus sacred and should be treated with respect.

Eland are prolific 'jumpers' and can even clear fences of 2,5 metres in height. 

They wander as individuals, small groups and occasionally large herds. Adult males are often solitary. They are found on the higher grasslands of the Drakensberg in summer and in larger groups. In Winter, they move to the lower grasslands and mingle in smaller groups.

Drakensberg Photographers

Stephen Pryke

Stephen Pryke is one of South Africa's most acclaimed photographers of nature and scenic beauty. His work has been used extensively to promote the province of KwaZulu-Natal or the 'Zulu Kingdom' as an attractive tourism and investment destination.


Near Giants Castle

Stephen is also the author of the book "Secrets of the Mountains and Hills". This book is an excellent photographic excursion of the Drakensberg, parts of the interior of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Free State.

The Eye of The Needle

He owns  Stephen Pryke Photography and studied at the University of the Witwatersrand. Stephen lives in Hilton, which is an important element of the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal.

The Amphitheatre


Thukela Gorge Hike


The Thukela Gorge Hike is one of Drakensberg's 'must do' hikes and is perhaps its most well-known excursion. Queen Elizabeth undertook this hike when she was a Princess and visited South Africa in 1947.

Princess Margaret, King George VI and Princess Elizabeth at Royal Natal

This hike is a moderate hike of some 14 km. The duration is some five hours. Start the hike at the Gorge parking site, which is just below the Thendele Campsite.

The Sentinel

Follow the well-worn path until you reach the mouth of the gorge. Here you will need to do a bit of boulder hopping and the odd swim through a pool or two until you reach the end of the gorge.

When you return, turn up the little valley leading towards Devil’s tooth for about three hundred metres. A path takes you up to a spectacular rock overhang and viewing site of the Amphitheatre and the Thukela Falls.


The “Osborn” Trail


The Scharf family have established an exhilarating new guided trail on the Drakensberg Dream Estate. The trail features two San rock art sites and four magnificent waterfalls. 

There are two routes, a short and a long route. The duration of the short route is some fifty minutes and the long route ninety. The trail is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Ages minimum 12 years, Maximum 68 years.

For more information, contact Hannes on +27825512592.

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;

If 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 yourself 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.

David Lewis-Williams 'Spiritual Interpretation' of San Rock Art

Professor James David Lewis-Williams

Professor  James David Lewis-Williams regarded as one of the most prominent theorists concerning the meaning of San Rock Art. In the Autumn edition of the Berg Times, a brief overview of the outstanding work of  Alexander Robert Willcox 'realistic perspective' to the interpretation of San Rock Art was provided. David Lewis-Williams offers a different view for such interpretations. He bases his view on his ethnographic research of the San and his understanding of their religious beliefs.

He believes that much of their frescos reflect or are symbols of their belief in Anthropomorphism. Additionally, he believes that San Rock Art Sites are essential spiritual places for the San and served as 'gateways' to their spiritual realm. 

David Lewis-Williams founded the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of Witwatersrand. He was a director of this agency. He is currently a professor emeritus of cognitive archaeology at this university. The National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa recognises him as a leading international researcher.

Some of David Lewis-Williams most important works include:

  • The enigma of Palaeolithic cave art;
  • The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness And The Origins Of Art;
  • A cosmos in stone: interpreting religion and society through rock art;
  • Stories that float from afar: further specimens of 19th Century Bushman folklore;
  • Images of Mystery: Rock Art of the Drakensberg; and
  • Consciousness, Intelligence and Art: A view of the West European Upper Palaeolithic Transition. 


Drakensberg's TreesYellowwood - Podocarpus Latifolius

Yellowwood is South Africa's national tree. It is found extensively in the ravine or valley forests of the Drakensberg. This tree has been present for 100 million years and is thus 'primaeval' or from the earliest of time.

Giant Yellowwood Tree near Cleo's Falls - Cathkin Park

They can grow to a height of 40 metres and a diameter of 3 metres. Yellowwood has grey bark that is deeply split and peels off in strips. It has multiple leathery, long and. Thin green leaves. 

The wood of this tree has been extensively exploited. This was certainly the case before the Drakensberg was declared a World Heritage Site. It produces excellent furniture.

Farmers Lawn Market

The Farmers Lawn Market is Central Drakensberg’s first-ever permanent artisanal market located on Gourton corner on the R600 near Winterton.

– local produce, bespoke goods, and services;

– eatery and beer garden;

– family-friendly; and

– promoting economic growth and eco-sustainability locally.

Certainly worth a visit. Contact Amy at



Drakensberg's Tourism Market

The Central and Northern Drakensberg has several major resorts that accommodate 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 concerning 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-aged 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

Dragons View Lodge

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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