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

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Barn Swallows - a symbol of Spring (Source: Pixabay)


Spring is a spectacular season in the Drakensberg. The brown hues of this mountainous landscape are transformed into brilliant shades of green. Various plants bloom. Amongst them are the Bottlebrush and a range of proteas. Additionally, several bird species return from the north, including the Barn Swallow and Yellow Billed Kite. Furthermore, buck species such as the Eland move from the lower slopes of the Drakensberg to higher ground to enjoy the new grass sprouts of these areas. 

Spring is a perfect time to enjoy the wide range of outdoor activities in this region. The weather is warm and does not bring the heavy rain of summer. Tourists thus do not hesitate to make use of the many hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails that exist here. Additionally, they enjoy ziplining, hot air ballooning, a Scootour, white river tubing, or just sipping on a local draft beer or a cold glass of wine. The scenery is spectacular; you need to ‘take it in, and then you will come to grips with the slogan that has often been used to describe the Drakensberg as, ‘The Soul of the Zulu Kingdom’. 

Welcome to the Spring edition of ‘Berg Times’, an online publication that seeks to keep the tourism trade and potential tourists to this area informed about the majesty of the Central and Northern Drakensberg. This edition includes overviews of the:

Drakensberg Spring




The Barn Swallow

One of the most important signs of Drakensberg's Spring is the return of the Barn Swallow. This cheerful fellow is prolific in the open grasslands of this area. These swallows often use man-made structures for breeding, and their clay pebble nests are often seen under roof overhangs. Furthermore, they perch frequently on telephone lines, calling with a distinguished 'chirp'.


(Source: Pixabay)

Barn Swallows have red faces, blue breast bands and brown-white underparts. They can reach lengths of 19 cm and have wingspans of as much as 30 cm. They are insectivores and are often seen in large numbers swooping onto flying insects.


Drakensberg Photographers

John Hone

The late John Hone had a profound ability to capture the rugged nature of the Drakensberg in the finest detail. John was the managing director of Art Publishers. However, his inspiration was the Drakensberg. He spent decades photographing various scenes in this magnificent area.

Arguably, his finest work is captured in the book 'Encounters with the Dragon'. This masterpiece documents over twenty years of his photography. It is a detailed account of the complex nature of this region.

Jacob's Ladder and Stable Cave Hike

Jacob’s Ladder and the Stable Cave Hike is one of the longer hikes undertaken from the Monks Cowl Camp. This trail can be undertaken in a day. However, it is recommended that hikers overnight at Stable Cave.

 The duration of the hike is some ten hours and the total length some 20 kilometres. Take the route to Sterkspruit Falls, but cross the Mpofane River at the cairn marked four on the KZN Wildlife map for the area. Follow the way to the Hlatikhulu Forest and Makhulamane Rock. At the fork to the Hlatikhule Forest, follow the route to Makhulamane Rock. At the turn to Makhulamane Rock, carry straight ahead to Van Damm’s Cascade and Jacob’s Ladder. Be careful to fill up with water at Van Damm Cascade as there is no water on Jacob’s Ladder and very often none in Stable Cave.

 Ascend Jacob’s Ladder. At the top, turn right to an entrance in the fence. You will pass a spectacular sandstone overhang. Enjoy the magnificent views of the Valley below and Cape Vulture soaring overhead. The path turns to the right at a ‘V’ in this formation. 

 The path then follows a series of zig-zags for a while and then a slight uphill. At the top of this hill, you will note that the trail forks to the left. Follow this fork along a ridge. Finally, you will note the opening to the Stable Cave shelter.

 Stable Cave is a long sandstone overhang that can easily sleep up to twelve people. Enjoy the views of Cathedral Peak on the horizon.


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.

The Multivocal Approach to interpreting San Rock Art

Multivocality or  'many voices'; is an approach to archaeological reasoning that encourages articulating numerous different theories when interpreting archaeological sites. Modern interpreters of San Rock art are increasingly analysing these frescos from both a literal and symbolic or ‘Shaministic’ perspective. Much San rock is clearly an actual representation of some wildlife or human activity, whereas others are more complex and appear to have symbolic meanings.

A San rock art hunting scene in a shelter near Geluksberg could be interpreted from a literal perspective. However, other scenes are clearly symbolic in nature.

Drakensberg's TreesThe Mountain Cabbage Tree (Cussonia paniculata)

(Source Wikimedia Commons - Bernard du Pont)

The Mountain Cabbage Tree or Bergkiepersol has a distinctive thick, waxy and leathery grey-green foliage that looks like large cabbages from a distance. They are easily recognised on the rocky slopes of the Drakensberg.

The bark of this tree is grey and gnarled. The Mountain Cabbage Tree rarely exceeds 5 meters, possibly since it has to survive harsh winters and rugged landscapes. Umsengembuzi is often found at altitudes of some 2100 meters.



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 about a four hours drive 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.

The overall Drakensberg tourism market is worth in the order of a billion Rand per annum.

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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