For the Tourism Trade and Visitors to the Drakensberg
Autumn 2023

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       Drakensberg Dwarf Chameleon - Nick Evans

Autumnrendezvous with the Drakensberg’s cathartic energy as it slowly transforms into the period of sleep, which is Winter. Absorb the full spectrum of orange and red as this region’s vegetation changes colour to its winter cloak of various hues of brown. This season is perhaps the best time to visit the Drakensberg. The days are warm, relatively rain-free, and the evenings cool. This period is a perfect time for the many outdoor adventures of the Drakensberg.

“Fall has always been my favourite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” – Lauren DeStefano

This edition includes overviews of:





Drakensberg Dwarf Chameleon

The Drakensberg Dwarf Chameleon or Bradypodium dracomontanum is a tiny ‘fellow’ of some 12 to 14 centimetres. Discover this endemic in the Drakensberg at some 1,500 to 2,000 metres. Find it in forests, scrub and tall grass near streams. The diet of this tiny creature is insects. This species is rare and near threatened.

The evolution of the shamanistic or neuropsychological model for interpreting San rock art 

Current theorists have labelled the notion that San Rock Art was primarily the result of various stages of shaman trances as being simplistic. The early shamanistic theory explains certain forms of San Rock Art but not all of it. Not all ritual scenes in this art form relate to trances or states of unconsciousness. Salomon has shown that San Rock Art ritual scenes often relate to visual “meanings,” visual diversity, and artistic praxis. Analysis of gendered imagery has highlighted social dynamics and contexts unconnected to trance and healing. 

Neuropsychological models of rock art of the San have developed to incorporate history, diversity and the temporality of human action into account. Please refer to Salomon’s articles:

  • "Rock Art Shamans and Grand Theories", 2017, in "Oxford Handbooks Online";
  • "Myths, Making, and Consciousness: Differences and Dynamics in San Rock Arts", 2008, in "Current Anthropology", for a helpful overview of the evolution of the neuropsychological model for interpreting San rock art.

Children's Activities in the Drakensberg

The Drakensberg is an ideal destination for children. There is a myriad of activities to keep them busy all day long. Some resorts even provide childminders, and special children's activity programmes, to enable parents to relax and do the activities they want to do. The following are some examples of children's activities in the Drakensberg:

  • Dragon Rocks Reptile Park;
  • Falcon Ridge bird park;
  • Drakensberg Canopy Tour;
  • Pony Rides at various venues;
  • Scootours and Cable Trail;
  • A wide range of playgrounds at venues such as Dragonview Lodge, Cedarwood Shopping Centre, Berg Air and the Waffle Hut;
  • Chocolate Memories at Berg Air;
  • Museums in Winterton Estcourt and Ladysmith;
  • All Out Adventures in the Northern Drakensberg; and
  • Short hiking trails at the various KZN Wildlife Camps in the Central and Northern Drakensberg



Drakensberg Trees - Natal Bottlebrush

The Natal Bottlebrush, also known as Greyia sutherlandii, Glossy Bottlebrush, Mountain Bottlebrush or Beacon Tree. This South African endemic is a small deciduous tree that grows to a height of between three to seven metres. The bright red flowers of the Natal Bottlebrush are perhaps its most prominent feature and resemble a bottlebrush. You can note these in spring and early summer. The leaves of this tree also turn into shades of red in late autumn.

The wood of this tree is pink and soft. This tree’s bark is rough, and its leaves are simple.

Natal Bottlebrush

Steilberg Hike 

The Steilberg Hike is a challenging hike that starts at either Monks Cowl Camp or Bergview. Please obtain permission to start the hike from Bergview and ensure you have paid the necessary fee and filled in the hiking register at Monks Cowl. The recommended route for this hike is to ascend to the Steilberg via Makhulumane Rock and the Makhulame River Valley.  The forest and waterfalls of this Valley are spectacular.

Once at the top, follow the route as marked on the map. You can follow the loop via Three Pools Cave or the shorter route, which connects the path for the descent of Steilberg. The descent is steep and slippery in parts. You should carry a short rope to deal with the steeper sections.

The hike is a total of some 11 kilometres from Bergview and 15.5 kilometres from Monks Cowl Camp. Expect to be on the trail for some five hours.

Source: Komoot

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 vegetation belts

The Drakensberg has three vegetation belts: Montane or Mountain, Sub-Alpine and Alpine. These belts are determined by altitude. The Montane belt occurs roughly below 1,600 metres; the Sub-Alpine belt is between some 1,600 metres and 2,600 metres; and the Alpine Belt at higher altitudes. There is a strong correlation between the geology of the Drakensberg and its vegetation belts. The Alpine belt is found in the basalt band, Sub Alpine above the Cave Sandstone deposits and Montane below the Cave Sandstone deposits.

The vegetation belts' vegetation is determined by slope and orientation (aspect) to the sun (north facing or south facing), as illustrated in the following table.

Belt Orientation Altitude Vegetation
Montane North 1300m to 1800m  Protea Savanna
  South   Podacarmus or temperate Forest
  Parallel   Boulder bed scrub
Sub-Alpine North  1800m to 2800m Thermeda (temperate) & Festuca Grassland
  South   Fynbos
  Parallel   Thermeda (temperate) Grassland
Alpine North 2800m plus Erica-Helichrysum
  South   Heath
  Parallel   Erica-Helichrysum

Source: Kilick, 1963

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 occurs on the last Saturday of every month from 5 pm at Mac's Café, Cedarwood Shopping Centre. Dave: 0822527768


21st- 23rd April:  The Lynx Ultra 50km and 25km

27th – 30th April: Music in The Mountains

6th- 7th May: Mweni Mountain Run:

6th – 7th May: Yellow-Billed Oxpecker.

13th – 14th May: Red–Billed Oxpecker

20th – 21st May: African Oxpecker

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

30th Sept: Run the Berg.

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

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&Bs, lodges and Guest Houses—easily accessed from this region's core markets, 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 mainly comprises leisure holiday tourists who self-drive to the area. They tend to be couples or family groups. Occasionally conference and incentive groups visit the area, particularly 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 December 2022 was 55% versus 36% for the same period in 2021. South Africa's Average Daily Rate or ADR was R1316.00 as opposed to R1108.00 in 2021. The Revenue per Available Room or REVPAR was R720 versus R398 in 2021. 

In the case of the Drakensberg & Midlands, the occupancy rate was 67% vs 47%. ADR R1146 vs R1083 in 2021 and Revpar R771 vs R505.

South Africa's foreign tourism arrivals were up 153% for January to December 2022 as opposed to the corresponding period in 2021. The number of foreign tourists for 2022 was 5.7 mn vs 2,3 mn in 2021.

Tourism picked up a bit more in the Drakensberg and Midlands in January. STR indicates occupancies were 55.5% vs 48.8% in 2021. ADR R1,322 vs R1,167. Revpar was R733 vs R570.

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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