For the Tourism Trade and Visitors to the Drakensberg
Spring 2022

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       The Gaudy Commodore (Hannes Scharf)

Spring - encounter the full hue of green in the Drakensberg. The Drakensberg is perhaps the best area in South Africa to experience the wonder of Spring. This escarpment's dry, rugged landscape sheds its kaleidoscope of brown, and its grasslands are transformed into all the various colours of green imaginable, similarly to its thickets of Paperbark Acacia. This is a beautiful time to be outdoors and experience the many adventures of the Drakensberg.

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome" Anne Bradstreet.

Photo credit: Mike Morgan

This edition includes overviews of:





Drakensberg's Butterflies

The Drakensberg is a paradise for the 'Butterfly Spotter' or Lepidopterists. Observe many of South Africa's estimated 801 butterfly types or taxa in this region.

The Gaudy Commodore is frequently noted throughout the year. This butterfly is predominantly blue in winter and red in summer. They congregate in holes in river banks and under rock overhangs at night and in the early morning in winter. It is a spectacular sight to see such a gathering.

A congregation of Gaudy Commodores on Drakensberg Dream Estate. Photo Credit: Hannes Scharf

Other butterflies frequently noted in the Drakensberg and surrounds include the African Clouded Yellow, African Grass Blue, African Migrant, African Monarch, Brown-veined White, Bush Bronze, Citrus Swallowtail, Common Diadem, Common Dotted Border, Common Hottentot, Common Zebra Blue, Garden Acraea, Geranium Bronze, Meadow White, Painted Lady, Pea Blue and the Yellow Pansy.


Dating Drakensberg's San Rock Art

Archaeologists use a fascinating technique known as Carbon-14 dating to determine the age of artefacts they discover on an 'archaeological dig'. This technique is based on the principle that radioactive Carbon-14 is absorbed by plants and animals when they eat or consume other organisms. This process stops when organisms die, and then Carbon-14 decays at a known rate.

Dr Mazel and Dr Alan Watchman used this technique to determine that San Rock Art in the Central and Northern Drakensberg is some 3,000 years old. They removed small flakes of organic material from paintings in this area and applied Carbon-14 dating technology to ascertain this.


The Drakensberg's Basket Weavers

Basket Weaving is an art practised skillfully by many Zulu-speaking women in the Drakensberg. It is a tradition handed down from generation to generation. Baskets, bowls and mats are created in various colours. Admire their skills at spots such as 'Basket Weaver Corner' at the junction of the R600 and R160 to Drakensberg Sun, on the lawns outside Champagne Castle Hotel, and the KZN Wildlife Camp at Monks Cowl and Royal Natal. Purchase one of these intricate pieces of art made from local indigenous grass. You will not be disappointed.



Drakensberg Breakfast Venues

Many of Drakensberg's guests use self-catering accommodation and are thus often on the lookout for an excellent breakfast venue. The Central and Northern Drakensberg has many of these. Good examples are:

Dragon Peaks Resort

Mac's Cafe

The Champagne Valley Bistro?

The Bakery


Farmer's Fork

The Waffle Hut

Pig and Ploug



The Outspan

Mike's Pass 

This walk-up Mike's Pass near KZN Wildlife's Didima Camp and Cathedral Peak Hotel  provides stunning views of notable peaks in this area. These include Cathedral Peak, the Bell, the Inner and Outer Horn, and the Chessmen.

Follow one of two routes to reach the top of Mike's Pass. The first starts at the Didima Reception or from Cathedral Peak Hotel and follows a path more or less perpendicular to these venues. See the trails marked on the map below. The path then follows the ridge of Mike's Pass until the top. An alternative is to park at the base of the 4x4 road and walk up that route. This moderate hike is 14.5 km and takes about 5 hours to complete.

Source: All Trails

The top of Mike's Pass in early spring

Hiking Tips

Sign the mountain rescue register;

Wear sturdy hiking boots and carry a walking pole;

Wear a light rucksack even for 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 bivvy 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 people.

Spring at the base of Cathkin Peak

Drakensberg Trees - The Paperbark Acacia

Acacia trees are an iconic symbol of Africa. The Paperbark Acacia or Vachellia sieberiana welcomes tourists as they enter the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and lowlands of the Drakensberg. Easily recognised by its flat-top shape and flaky light-coloured bark. It is a tree that is very resistant to frost and bush fire. This tree can reach heights of 15 metres. 

A Paperbark Acacia in Winter

An outstanding feature of Acacia Trees is that they are deciduous or lose their leaves in late Autumn. They put on a brilliant display of new leaves in Spring.

Paperbark Acacia's Springing to life at Four Rivers Adventures September 2022


Rock Art Research Institute

The Rock Art Research Institute of the University of Witwatersrand is one of the leading research institutes for rock art research. This institute has played a crucial role in interpreting and documenting the San Rock Art of the Drakensberg. In addition, this institute contributes substantially to a global digital archive of rock art. Please refer to This resource is also the South African Rock Art Digital Archive (SARADA), which they maintain.

Sterkspruit Waterfall Viewing Site Restored

Under Roy Strydom's leadership, the Monks-Cowl Honorary Officer Group recently helped restore the Sterkspruit Falls Viewing Site. Sterkspruit Falls is the most leisurely walk in the Monks Cowl Camp area of Central Drakensberg. The Sterkspruit Loop is a walk of an hour or 3.4 kilometres. The views of Cathkin Peak are spectacular along this short trail.

Source: All Trails



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



1 Oct: The Farmers’ Lawn Market. Amy 0824647803

1 – 2  Oct: Run the Berg Challenge 50km, 32 and 16km

4  - 9  Oct: X- Berg Challenge Xtreme

6 – 9  Oct: X- Berg Challenge Mini

8 Oct: Blommevrou at Cathedral Peak Wine Estate Eldri 0829086517

14  Oct: Winterton Pink Walk at The Waffle Hut details to follow

21  -23  Oct: Ride the Berg

28  – 30  Oct: Kudu Canter . Linwood farm Bergville


5  Nov: Street Festival in Winterton 0825489910

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


16  -18  Dec: Lube and Tube Amy 0824647803

Ann Gray

9  September 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 visiting KwaZulu-Natal and 1% of all foreign tourists visiting 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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