For the Tourism Trade and Visitors to the Drakensberg
Autumn 2022

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Drakensberg Crag Lizard (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Autumn - Drakensberg's kaleidoscope…observe how a landscape changes from dark hues of green to a broad spectrum of red, yellow, orange and red. The perfect season for adventure...warm, clear days and cool, clear nights. The time to sip red wine and hot chocolate...it is the time of the Easter holidays. Mesmerizing.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower" – Albert Camus

This edition includes overviews of:

 

 

 

 

The Drakensberg Crag Lizard

Pseudocordylus subviridis, is endemic to South Africa and mainly found in the Midlands and Drakensberg regions of KwaZulu-Natal. It is a significant lizard of some 25 centimetres. Their skulls are highly pliable, enabling them to wedge themselves in cracks as a defence mechanism. They also have very scaly tails.

The Crag Lizard's lower abdomen has a distinctive yellow colour. They also give birth to live young. Their diet comprises beetles and other insects.

A close relative of the Drakensberg Crag Lizard is the Lang's Crag Lizard, which is only found at altitudes of 2,700 meters and more in the Drakensberg and Lesotho.

The Adventurous Nature of the Central and Northern Drakensberg

The Central and Northern Drakensberg has evolved from a region offering an assortment of adventurous activities to a professional centre of such services. The Drakensberg is now a South African epicentre of adventure tourism. These pursuits range from hiking, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, trail running, zip-lining, white river tubing and horse trails to some new or novel activities for South Africans such as a cable trail and Scootours. The following table provides a list of these operators and some of the experiences they offer:

Operator Pursuits Email
Active Adventures Guided mountain bike and hiking tours tours@active-escapes.co.za
All Out Adventures Ziplines, bungee, paintball, quad biking, mountain biking, team builds info@alloutadventures.co.za
Berg Adventures Professional mountain guiding service drakhike@gmail.com
Berg Ventures Youth camp and adventures bergventure@futurenet.co.za
Cathkin Trails Mountain bike trails, trail running little.acres@live.co.za
Dragon Peaks Trail Rides Horse riding & trails dpp@dragonpeaks.com
Drakensberg Ballooning Hot air ballooning adventures. info@drakenbergballooning.com
Drakensberg Canopy Tours A conglomerate of zip lines. info@drakensbergcanopytour.co.za
Drakensberg Hikes Guided Drakensberg hikes info@drakensberghikes.com
Drakensberg MTB Trails Mountain bike trails  
Drakensberg Trails Trail running  
Drakensberg Treks Guided hiking  
Four Rivers Adventures White river tubing, quad biking, archery, paintball, zip line info@fourriversadventures.co.za
Hike The Berg Guided hiking 0794936424
Hot Air Ballooning SA Hot air ballooning adventures. Info@hotairballooningsa.co.za
Itchy Feet SA White river rafting, mountain climbing, guided hiking Gustav@itchyfeetsa.co.za
Leap Adventures Guided quad bike trails, archery, paintball  info@leap-adventures.co.za
Mountain Splendour Mountain bike trails info@mountainsplendour.co.za
Northern Horse Horse riding & trails thenorthernhorse@gmail.com
Scootours & Vertical Rush Scootours, abseiling, White water tubing, cable trail drakensbergscootours@gmail.com
Umpafa Berg Tours Hiking and cultural guides umphafa@gmail.com
Ushaka Horse Trails Horse riding & trails info@monkscowl.com
Westline Aviation Helicopter tours info@bergflying.co.za

 

Drakensberg Photographers

Jacques Crafford

Jacques Crafford is an acclaimed South African visual artist and travel filmmaker. His masterpieces include 'This is South Africa', 'Tourism Turkey' and 'Patagonia Landscape', His 'Drakensberg Amphitheatre' is a sensational introduction to the Drakensberg. His scenes of the Mnweni Valley in 'This is South Africa' are equally spectacular.

Jacques is also committed to fine still photography, and he has captured many memorable Drakensberg scenes. Additionally, he has been one of the early adopters of 'reels' for tourism destination promotion. Reels are 15-second video clips that capture a tourism experience. These are very popular with Gen Z, and Millenials who want information in a concise and impactful format. Finally, he actively shares his abilities through online training videos on his website and workshops.

 

 

Hlathikulu Forest Hike

This is an easy hike of some nine kilometres in total. The duration is approximately three hours. Start at Monks Cowl Camp and follow the cairns marked Mkhulumane Rock and Hlathikulu Forest. Cross the Sterkspruit River and ascend to a cairn that shows the route onto Mkulumani Rock and left to Hlathikhulu Forest. Continue along the path. You will encounter a magnificent forest and a route back down to the river and Monks Cowl Camp. Alternatively, follow the route to Nandi Falls, cross the Sterkspruit River at the point marked 1 on the following map and up to the Hlathikulu Forest marked 2 and then onto Monks Cowl Camp. Please note that various sources spell this forest's name differently - Hlathikhulu, Hlathikulu, Hlatikhulu and Hlatikulu.

 

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 to a small grove of trees as quickly as possible 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.

 

Hideski Organix

You can't but love Collette's delightfully wicked smile, her quick wit, honesty and no-nonsense attitude. Collette is the owner of Hideski Organix and is one of 'the Valley's most colourful characters.

Hideski Organix is the supplier of the finest hides in the Drakensberg, as well as other leather goods and 'memorabilia'. So, if you are in the market for a quality and guaranteed hide. You will not be disappointed.

Location - Cedarwood Shopping Centre, Cathkin Park (Champagne Valley). FaceBook

Some new perspectives of the Drakensberg San

A range of excellent research papers have been published over the past ten years regarding Drakensberg's San. Some examples of these findings are:

Recent archaeological excavations have revealed that the San and their ancestors were skilled freshwater fishermen. Large middens of fish bones have been discovered in shelters in Lesotho (Plug & Mitchell).

The previously held view that San raided cattle for survival was perhaps simplistic. Recent analyses of San Rock art, particularly the Amatola, have revealed that sophisticated, creolized bands sometimes undertook these raids. Raiding cattle by the San provided them with a reliable food source and helped them to build relationships with Nguni and Sotho tribes (Smith)

Didima Gorge has the most significant concentration of San rock art in the Drakensberg and South Africa. This array represents approximately ten percent of these paintings in these mountains or just over 3,900 examples. eSibayeni Cave, Botha's Shelter and Junction Shelter have most of this art. Eland's Cave, which is on the periphery of the Gorge, is the site with the next most significant concentration. However, more importantly, the shelters of the Didima Gorge have a prevalence of frescos with figurines and therianthropes in ritual like scenes. (Mazel, 2011 & 2022).

eSibayeni Shelter

Mazel believes that Didima Gorge was the site of many rituals as a result of its excellent acoustics.

Therianthropes eSibayeni Shelter Didima Gorge

Berg Air a vibrant lifestyle centre

Berg Air is a remarkable success story in the Catkin Park area of the Drakensberg. This centre of gastronomic and lifestyle delights is the result of the tenacity and innovativeness of the Scharf family and exceptional tenants. Established in the latter half of 2017 with three anchor services, Berg Air has grown into a substantial tourism venue. The offering now includes: 

Venue Offering Telephone
Drakensberg Brewery Exceptional draft beer.  0603826225
Drakensberg Chocolate Memories & Berg Bean Roastery Chocolate creations. Excellent Coffee. 0833650391
The Cheese Shop Artisan cheese products. Charcuterie. Deli items. 0844729606
Champagne Bistro-Cafe Culinary masterpieces. Breakfast and lunch 0603310284
Farm Friends Farmstall Gifts, craft, quality meats, gelato and 'lekker' home-cooked goodies 0834501450
Hot Air Ballooning SA Hot air ballooning experiences 0836554658
Hillbillies (Champagne Valley Farm Produce) Quality farm produce 0848926679
Pilot's Cabin Quirky accommodation 0829255508

Zimela Ceramics

The Drakensberg is fortunate to have many outstanding artists and crafters. Zimela Ceramics is an exceptional example. Victor Shabala, an artist who Ardmore trained, established it. He, however, continued his work in the Central Drakensberg when Ardmore moved its workshop and gallery to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. 

Victor has trained his team of ceramists who create magnificent art pieces for collectors and art galleries. These ceramics reflect rich coloured wildlife themes. They take on many forms from centrepieces, sculptures, vases, platters, teapots, etc.

Zimela Ceramics has a gallery at the Cedarwood Shopping Centre in Cathkin Park or the Champagne Valley. Their workshop is based in Loskop at the Children's Village, on the Injisuthi Clinic Road. Easily accessed from the Loskop Road (P10-1), some five kilometres from Thokozisa. See their FaceBook page or email at zimeleceramics@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Drakensberg Events in the Central and Northern Drakensberg

Every Saturday morning, Winterton Park Run from the Waffle Hut starting at 08.00

Cathkin Park Community Projects Run takes place on the last Friday of the month at 17.00 at Drakensberg Brewery at Berg Air Complex

2022

24-27 March: KTM Rally at Champagne Sports Resort. 

 

26th Mar: Farmers Lawn Market  .Amy 0824647803  SANBS donation

28th -April: - 1st May Music in the Mountains www.dbchoir.com.

7 May: Mweni Mountain Run www.kzntrailrunning.co.za

14th-15th May: Yellow-billed Oxpecker Trail Run   www.theoxpecker.co.za

21st – 22nd May: Red-billed Oxpecker Trail Run   www.theoxpecker.co.za

28th – 29th May African Oxpecker Trail Run   www.theoxpecker.co.za

14th – 16th June: The Berg and Bush Tour www.bergandbush.co.za

18th - 19 June The Berg and Bush 2 Day www.bergandbush.co.za

24th – 26th June: The Berg and Bush Descent www.bergandbush.co.za

25th June: Drakensberg Polar Bear Swim Challenge at 12noon at Dragon Peaks. Contact Belinda 0837737450

30th July: L O C K K  Riders at Winterton Country Club. Jess 0826000258

2nd – 3rd Sept: The Berg Show at Winterton Country Club. Joanine 082856368

8th Oct: Blommevrou at Cathedral Peak Wine Estate Eldri 0829086517

 16-18th Dec: Lube and Tube Amy 0824647803 lubeandtubewinterton@gmail.com

 Source - Ann Gray  

Drakensberg's Tourism Market

The Central and Northern Drakensberg has several major resorts that accommodate over 100 guests and a significant concentration of smaller self-catering, B&B's, lodges and Guest Houses. Easily accessed from this region's 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 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 who self-drive to the area. They tend to be couples or family groups. There are the occasional conference and incentive groups 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). Attracted to the area for hiking and other adventure opportunities, such as zip-lining, hot air ballooning and helicopter flips.

According to South African Tourism, some 65,000 foreign tourists visit the Drakensberg annually. 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 estimated 47,000 visited this area in 2016.

The nature of this market can be assumed to be 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 annually. The key markets are 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

Hike The Berg

Hot Air Ballooning SA

Leap Adventures

Scootours

The Northern Horse

Ushaka Horse Trails

Westline Aviation

Battlefield Sites

Bloukrans

Colenso

Doornkop Laager site

Elandslaagte

Fort Durnford

Rensburgskop Battlefield

Siege of Ladysmith (various)

Spioenkop

Thukela Heights (Various)

Vaalkrans

Weenen

Willow Grange

Winston Churchill Capture Site

Zaailaager / Saailaager

B&Bs

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

Backpackers

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

Mac'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

Four Rivers

Kabbo Burger Factory

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

BergAir

Cedarwood Village Shopping Centre

Chocolate Memories

Farm Friends Farmstall

KwaZulu-Natal Weavers

Sandra's se Winke;

The Oaks Supermarket

The Outspan

Thokozisa 

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

Golf

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

Museums

Ladysmith

Sandra se Winkel

Winterton

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

Self-Catering

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

Pumeleni

River Crossing

Rockwood Earth Lodge

Slievyre Game Farm

Sungubala Eco Camp

Swallowfield Rondavels

Tendele/ Royal Natal

Vultures View

Wits End

Spas

Alpine Heath

Champagne Castle Hotel

Champagne Sports Resort

Monks Cowl Golf Resort

Spoilt Green Eco-Spa

The Nest Hotel

 
 
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