For the Tourism Trade and Visitors to the Drakensberg
Winter 2022

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       Natal Chirping Frog (Nick Evans)

Winter - Drakensberg's frosty affair…wonderful to encounter. White fields of frost at dawn, snow-capped peaks, and the opportunity to experience snowfall and build a snowman if you are lucky. Crystal clear skies at night, perfect for stargazing. Sunny days, the chance to enjoy a day hike and admire the rugged beauty of this magnificent escarpment.

"To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold" – Anonymous

This edition includes overviews of:





Drakensberg's Frogs 

The Drakensberg has a fascinating community of frogs. Frogs are the only amphibians that are found in this region. The Natal Chirping Fog (see image at the beginning of this newsletter)  is an interesting character. They are rarely seen but noted because of their distinctive chirping calls. They are common in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and the Drakensberg. Their colouring is variable from yellow to orange-brown. 

They lay eggs in damp vegetation and not pools of water. The tadpoles remain out of the water and wriggle around in wet vegetation. They quickly metamorphose into froglets.

Other frogs that are noted in the Drakensberg include the Golden Spiny Reed Frog, Rain Frog, Drakensberg Toad, Common Toad, Dainty Frog, Heleo Frog, Running Frog, Puddle Frog, Bull Frog, Natal Pyxie, Common Rana, Drakensberg Rana, Striped Rana, Water Rana , Spotted Rana and the Platanna.

The Geology of the Drakensberg

An extended period of sedimentation, volcanic flow, massive continental upliftment and ultimately the erosion of the thick volcanic cap of basalt defined the geology of the Drakensberg. As a result, this escarpment is one of the world's best examples of an erosional mountain.

Water-driven sedimentation

 The lowest layer of the Drakensberg is the Molteno group of deposits. A sedimentary layer of approximately 450 metres thick in this region. It comprises sandstone and shale layers rich in insect and plant fossils, which reflect lush riverine or swampy vegetation over what we then knew as Gondwanaland. This supercontinent was established about 450 million years before the present until some 200 million years before the present. 

The Elliot Formation followed this layer. A layer of mudstones on what was a semi-arid flood plain. Dinasoar fossils have also been found in this layer.

 Wind-driven sedimentation

The Elliot period was followed by wind-driven reddish fine sand deposits from an extremely dry period over Gondwanaland. The Clarens Sandstone Formation was a narrower layer. This band is up to 90 metres in thickness. A softer yellow aerial deposit followed, sometimes known as the Cave Deposits or Cave Formations.

 The Gondwanaland split

Volcanic rock or magma forced its way up fissures in the sandstone about 180 million years ago. This magma formed a thick cap of basalt or a peneplain across much of what is now southern Africa.

Approximately 150 million years ago, Gondwanaland was uplifted and began to split and drift apart into various continents. Africa was one of these. 


The eastern part of South Africa was uplifted before the split, creating fast east-flowing rivers. These rivers slowly eroded the basaltic layers to create the stark, rugged cliffs and peaks for which the Upper Drakensberg is renowned. The rapid fluvial erosion of the sandstone layers below established its deep valleys and the Little or Lower Drakensberg. The Drakensberg has slowly eroded some 150 to 200 kilometres from the present coastline at some 1.5 mm a year.


The Gastronomic Delights of the Drakensberg

Visitors to the Drakensberg are never disappointed by the vast array of coffee shops, pubs, eateries and caterers in this region. These gastronomic delights range from fine dining to exclusive steak houses, a 'burger factory' and farm-style cuisine. The following is a list of some of these establishments:

Bingelela Restaurant / Pizzeria & B&B

Canaan Coffee & Gifts

Champagne Bistro

Chocolate Memories

Drakensberg Brewery

Farmers Fork

Four Rivers

Kabbo Burger Factory

Mac's Coffee Shop

Pig & Plough

Scrumpy Jack Farmstall

The Coffee Patch

The Griller Restaurant

The Salesyard

The Tower of Pizza

Thokozisa Restaurant

Valley Bakery

Waffle Hut


Drakensberg Photographers

Gareth Roberts

Gareth Roberts is a Howick-based professional photographer and traveller. He is renowned for his images of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Drakensberg. His passion is to be a storyteller through imagery. The following are some of the magnificent photos he regularly shares on Facebook forums, such as the Champagne Mile:




Battle Cave Hike 

This walk is one of Drakensberg's most fascinating hikes as it includes a visit to the Battle Cave shelter, just below the Lower Injisuthi Cave and just after the turn to Fergy's Cave. Battle Cave is one of the most concentrated and best-preserved collections of San Rock Art in this World Heritage Site. The shelter is fenced and gated and may only be accessed with a San Rock Art Custodian or guide.

The hike of some twelve kilometres in total starts at the Injisuthi Camp. The duration is approximately four hours. Start at the Injisuthi Camp and follow the route to the Injisuthi River bridge. Before the bridge, you will notice a cairn indicating the Marble Bath and Lower Injisuthi Hike routes. Follow this path and cross the river where there is a steel rope to assist you in passing. Unfortunately, it is often impossible to get over here when the river flows strongly. If this is the case, follow an alternative route which starts at a cairn just after the main river bridge.

Follow the path to Marble Baths until it splits to the Lower Injisuthi Cave route. You will encounter a significant sandstone shelter and the fence around Battle Cave. Return the same way.


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.


Drakensberg Trees - The Drakensberg Cycad

The Drakensberg Cycad is a living fossil that has existed for some 250 million years. Moreover, they are conifers with cones. Encephalartos ghellinckii is also threatened and protected by law. They can grow up to two metres in height and are common in the Drakensberg sub-Alpine Fynbos regions. They grow in rocky outcrops in such areas and on the mountain's slopes.

Mazel's critical contribution to the study of the Drakensberg San

Aron Mazel is one of the more recent theorists that has written extensively regarding the Drakensberg San. He worked for many years as an archaeologist in South Africa. First, for the Natal Museum, where he was an Assistant Director. Later, as the Director of the South African Cultural History Museum from 1998 to 2002. He later moved on to the University of Newcastle. He has also done extensive research for the Bradshaw Foundation, culminating in a comprehensive website on global rock art

His paper, 'Changing fortunes: 150 years of San hunter-gatherer history in the Natal Drakensberg, South Africa', was seminal and provided a concise overview of the earliest views of the Drakensberg San. He makes the critical point that until the 1970s, very little serious academic research had been done regarding the Drakensberg San. He feels that the story of the Drakensberg San was ignored mainly; unfortunately, their history has never been documented from the perspective of these people. As a result, much of what has been written is very subjective and ideological. He is critical of the views that the San were 'Brutal Savages' and the later romantic view that they could be regarded as 'Noble Savages'.

He also expresses the view that the San occupied the Southern Drakensberg some 8000  before the present (BP). Some moved into the Thukela Basin area around 1000 BP and back to the Drakensberg in the late 18th Century. The Northern Drakensberg was occupied by them some 2000 BP.

Mazel also carefully synthesized the work of the Pager's and also through his work in the Didima Gorge. The Didima Gorge is a special conservation area of the Drakensberg World Heritage Site and has the most important concentration of Drakensberg San Rock Art. Please see the section on the San Rock Art of the Drakensberg on the Bradshaw Foundation website. Please also refer to the Autumn 2022 edition of Drakensberg Times

Mazel believes that one reason the Didima Gorge has such a significant concentration of San Rock Art, particularly human-like images, is that it was the site of many rituals because of its excellent acoustics.

The following is a list of some of his most important publications:

Aron Mazel. 1989. People making history: the last ten thousand years of hunter-gatherer communities in the Thukela. PhD Thesis. 

Aron Mazel and John Wright. 2007. Tracks in a Mountain Range: exploring the history of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg;

Aron Mazel, George Nash and Clive Waddington. 2007. Art as Metaphor: The Prehistoric Rock- Art of Britain;

Aron Mazel and John Wright. 2012. uKhahlamba: Umlando wezintaba zoKhahlamba/History of the uKhahlamba;

Aron Mazel and George Nash. 2018. Narratives and Journeys in Rock Art: a Reader; and

Aron Mazel, Carole Charette and George Nash. 2021. Indigenous Heritage and Rock Art: Worldwide Research in Memory of Daniel Arsenault



Drakensberg Events in the Central and Northern Drakensberg

Winterton Parkrun takes place every Saturday morning 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  in Summer and 16.30 in Winter at Drakensberg Brewery at Berg Air Complex.

Drakensberg Boys' Choir School has a concert on Wednesday afternoons during term times

Mountain Music Club takes place on the last Saturday of every month from 5 pm at Mac's Café, Cedarwood Shopping Centre. Dave: 0822527768

24th – 26th June: The Berg and Bush Descent

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

4th _-  9th Oct: X- Berg Challenge Xtreme 

6 – 9th Oct: X- Berg Challenge Mini

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

21st -23rd Oct: Ride the Berg

5th Nov: Street Festival in Winterton

8th – 11th Dec: TBC. Christmas in the Berg at the Drakensberg Boys' Choir School 

16th -18th Dec: Lube and Tube Amy 0824647803

 Source: Ann Gray, 3rd June 2022


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-hour drive from Gauteng and two and a half hours from Durban. It is possible to fly into Pietermaritzburg and cut down the driving time to 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 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 an 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


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

Bingelela Restaurant / Pizzeria & B&B

Canaan Coffee & Gifts

Champagne Bistro

Chocolate Memories

Drakensberg Brewery

Farmers Fork

Four Rivers

Kabbo Burger Factory

Mac's Coffee Shop

Pig & Plough

Scrumpy Jack Farmstall

The Coffee Patch

The Griller Restaurant

The Salesyard

The Tower of Pizza

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


Estate Agents

Chas Everitt - Pierre de Wet 0645120809

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

Road Side Assistance

Tyre Roadside Assistance 0617821591


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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