For the Tourism Trade and Visitors to the Drakensberg
Summer 2022/ 2023

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       Drakensberg Rockjumper (Doug Newman)

Summer - engage the warmth of the Drakensberg. This season is a period of hot, balmy weather and wonderful festive gatherings. Also, experience the magical electrical summer storms. Few areas in South Africa can compete with these beautiful displays of nature's power.

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time." — John Lubbock

This edition includes overviews of:





Drakensberg Rockjumper

The Drakensberg Rockjumper or Orange-breasted Rockjumper is endemic to South Africa. They live at 1000 metres or higher on rocky slopes. For this reason, they are seen frequently in the Drakensberg, in pairs, jumping from rock to rock. They are 20 cm long and run around with their tail feathers erect. Please see the cover image of a Drakensberg Rockjumper.

The origin of the San 

Recent genetic research undertaken by the University of Pretoria shows that modern man or Homo Sapiens Sapiens may have originated from the Okavango and Zambezi Basin areas in Southern Africa. However, archaeologists also concur that Homo Sapiens originated in Eastern or Southern Africa. Additionally, they agree that modern man migrated deeper into South Africa into the West and Centre and later into the East. Moreover, they acknowledge that the San are direct descendants of these migrants.

The earliest site of Homo Sapiens Sapiens in South Africa is Florisbad, where a modern human skull was dated to 260,000 BP. Other important sites of early Homo Sapiens Sapiens activity include Klasies River Mouth Caves (some 150,000 BP) in the Southern Cape, Nelson's Bay Cave, the Southern Cape, and Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal (125,000 BP). There is a concerted effort to have Klasies, and Border Cave declared World Heritage Sites.

Klasies River Mouth Cave - Photo: John Atherton: Wikimedia Commons

The rock art of the San in the Matobas of Zimbabwe has been dated to some 12,000 before the present (BP). In the case of the Southern Drakensberg, 8,000 BP and the Central and Northern Drakensberg, 3,000 BP. 

The KhoiKhoi or Khoekoen only migrated into the Northern and Western Cape some 2,000 BP. They were pastoralists who coined the term 'San'. They referred to the San as 'people of the bush' or Soaqua or San. The San were hunter-gatherers.

Andrew Smith has just published an enlightening book on the Khoisan titled, "First People. The lost history of the Khoisan. It is worth a read.


Lutheran Mission Stations of the Central Drakensberg - Emmaus

The Berlin Missionary Society (BMS) was a German Protestant or Lutheran Christian missionary society that was constituted on 29 February 1824 by Prussian nobles. This movement was one of four German Protestant mission societies active in South Africa before 1914. The BMS sent its first missionaries to South Africa in 1834. Unfortunately, this organisation struggled to deal decisively with injustice and racial discrimination. As a result, it ended its operations in South Africa.

The first BMS mission in South Africa was Bethanienin in the Free State. Missionaries Karl Wilhelm Posselt and Wilhelm Güldenpfennig founded Emmaus, the first BMS station in KwaZulu-Natal, in 1847. Christianenberg and Hermannsburg Missions were amongst other mission stations founded in this province.

Reverend Bernhard Schiele and his wife, Dr Magdalene Schiele, were missionaries from Berlin, Germany.  They founded the Hospital. Dr Magdalene Schiele noted the need for the hospital whilst doing home rounds.  

 The South African Government took over the hospital In 1970. The hospital is now managed by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.

Rev. Karl Zunkel was a renowned pastor at Emmaus in the 1850s. His family become prominent farmers in the Northern and Central Drakensberg. Gerald Zunkel established the Cathkin Park Hotel, which later became the Drakensberg Sun and Resort.


Drakensberg Trees - Outhout

Ouhout or Old Wood (Leucosidea sericea) is a common small tree or shrub found in the Lower Drakensberg. The trunk and branches are rough or gnarled and reddish brown. This is the reason for its name. It is noted along streams and areas such as crevices where it is protected from fire. 

This tree grows to heights of seven metres and five metres wide. It is low branching. The leaves are compound and covered with silky silver hairs. Each leaf has three to four pairs of leaflets. These leaves are dark green above and a lighter green on the underside. The leaves are deeply serrated.

Ouhout or Old Wood

Brandwag Buttress Hike 

The Brandwag Buttress Hike is in the Golden Gate National Park. This circular route hike starts at the park's main camp, Glen Reenen. Follow the signposts and ascend the buttress to the lookout point. Then follow the route on the opposite side of the buttress and down to the R712. Follow the R712 back to Glen Reenen. The hike is some three kilometres and two hours in duration. It is an easy hike.

Source: Komoot

Brandwag Buttress Photo: Hendrik van den Berg: Wikimedia Commons

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.

Drakensberg's grasslands

One of the most important ecological features of the Drakensberg is its grasslands. The Drakensberg grasslands are among the most extensive ecosystems or floral kingdoms in Southern Africa. Furthermore, grasslands are South Africa's second most crucial biome. They sustain a significant array of plant and animal life. They are located in the lower regions of Drakensberg and are extensively in other regions of South Africa, such as the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Free State and Gauteng.

Good examples of the common birds that can be noted in the Drakensberg grasslands include the Hadeda Ibis, the Barn Swallow, the Helmeted Guineafowl and the Long-tailed Widow. Notable trees and bushes in these areas are Tree Ferns, Cycads, Ouhout, Bracken Ferns, Proteas and Bottlebrush. 

The Drakensberg's grasslands are a mix of sweetveld and sourveld. The south-facing slopes, less exposed to sun and heavy rain, are covered with grasslands made up of sweet perennial grasses. These grasses contain high nutrients in the growing seasons and provide winter grazing. They are easily identified by their shiny texture, sweet smell and root systems which have a purple hue. 

The other slopes comprise sourveld grasses. They are suitable for grazing in Spring and Summer but less so in Winter. Red Grass is a common Drakensberg sourveld grass. Common Thatch Grass is another. Other interesting examples are Natal Grass, Caterpillar Grass, Weeping Love Grass and Toothbrush Grass.

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



23rd Dec: The Ultimate Christmas market 3 pm – 9 pm at Farmers Lawn


24th Jan: Spionkop Battle 123rd Anniversary. Lynette Heron  0825730224

5th Feb: Wagondrift Challenge at Wagondrift Dam. Shane Dreyer 0768214834

3th -5th  Mar: Drakensberg Northern Trail @Alpine Heath Resort

27th – 30th April: Music in The Mountains

16 – 18th June: Berg and Bush Descent.

24 – 25th June: Berg and Bush 2 day

24th June: Drakensberg Polar Bear Swim Challenge at Dragon Peaks. Belinda 0837737450

1st – 2nd Sept: The Berg Show at Winterton Country Club. Joanine 0828564368

8th -12th Dec: Christmas in the Berg at the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School

Source: Ann Gray 28 November 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&Bs, 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 reduce the driving time to this destination. 

The Drakensberg is positioned at the consolidation or mature stage of Butler's Tourism Area Lifecycle model in 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 two billion Rand per annum.

This market is beginning to recover from the ravages of COVID. The Smith Travel Research (STR) Statistics for the Drakensberg Midlands and as supplied by Tourism KwaZulu- Natal have revealed that:

South Africa's occupancy rate for hotels, lodges, etc., for January to September 2022 was 51.8% versus 30.9% for the same period in 2021. South Africa's Average Daily Rate or ADR was R1,225.00 as opposed to R1043.00 in 2021. The Revenue per Available Room or REVPAR was R650 versus R322 in 2021. 

In the case of the Drakensberg & Midlands, the occupancy rate was 67% vs 44%. ADR R1123 vs R1027 in 2021 and Revpar R750 vs R448.

South Africa's foreign tourism arrivals were up 164% for January to September 2022 as opposed to the corresponding period in 2021. The number of foreign tourists for the 2022 period was 3,9 mn vs 2,3 mn in 2021.

Globally, tourism is expected to recover to 2019 levels in 2024.



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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