An Introduction to the Drakensberg. A World Heritage Site

The Drakensberg's Amphitheatre (Source: South African Tourism)
The Drakensberg’s Amphitheatre (Source: South African Tourism)

The Drakensberg Mountains, by virtue of topography, is an adventurer’s paradise. “An Introduction to the Drakensberg. A World Heritage Site”, has to emphasize that it offers a wealth of outdoor activities to satisfy all. This mountain range is a 243 000 hectare mountainous region, named ‘Ukhahlamba’ by the Zulu people. So it well deserves its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This escarpment offers massive cliffs towering over riverine bush, lush evergreen forests and cascading waterfalls and mountain streams. So there are many hiking paths that invite exploration. It has seasonally snow-capped peaks, sheer cliffs, and deep gorges and rolling hills. They offer memorable experiences and activities to suit everyone, from the adrenalin rush of tubing down the mighty Thukela (thunder) to a leisurely round of golf.

Furthermore, this Introduction to the Drakensberg also needs to stress that the ‘Drakensberg’ is divided into three regions, southern, central and northern Drakensberg. All three Drakensberg regions are easily accessible by road. Visitors to each of these regions have a wide variety of accommodation venues to choose from. So these range from luxury boutique hotels ideal for executive breaks. Hotels catering larger groups with onsite team-building facilities, to picturesque ‘camps’ with chalets set in the Drakensberg. So conference and Incentive Planners will be spoilt for choice with any number of options available when planning a ‘must-do’ memorable event.


The SOUTHERN DRAKENSBERG offers visitors a wealth of outdoor activities. Ranging from trout fishing, and hiking to 4×4 excursions. The Sani Pass is ideal for traversing the highest pass-road in South Africa by 4×4. This route takes visitors along the upper Mkomazana River up Sani Pass to the border with Lesotho (2874 meters above sea-level). Here delegates can enjoy lunch at the highest pub in Africa. Or experience the awesome Drakensberg on horseback. From hour-long rides in the foothills to a three-day expedition into Lesotho in the safe hands of a local guide and a sure-footed Basotho pony.

So selecting a country lodge or guest house for your conference or leisure experience invariably offers a more bespoke option. Because they are more likely to be more flexible with regards to meals, activities and even the location for meetings. The rocky hillsides in the vicinity of Ixopo and Creighton are ablaze with aloes during the winter months. This is a great excursion, especially aboard the Sisonke Stimela. This is a restored steam train, which during July operates the Creighton Aloe Festival excursion.


THE CENTRAL DRAKENSBERG is centre for the adventurous and offers several teambuilding options. So take the challenge of one on the many rock-climbing routes in the central Drakensberg. Feel the adrenalin rush provided by abseiling, kloofing and white water rafting. Alternatively, take a helicopter ride to view the majestic peaks from above. This is a great ‘wow’ experience to include in an incentive itinerary. But this part of the Drakensberg is also home to the world-renowned Drakensberg Boys Choir. This is a boarding school for boys where choral music is used as a vehicle for holistic education. So visit the school to hear the Choir perform (their schedule permitting). But you can also invite them to perform at a gala dinner or special event.


The NORTHERN DRAKENSBERG is home to the spectacular Amphitheatre.  So this is the most photographed feature of the region. It is also the source of the Tugela (uThukela) River which plunges some 950 meters over the edge of the Mont-aux-Sources Plateau in spectacular fashion. Additionally, this region has several options catering for medium to small conferences. Moreover, The Mweni Cultural Centre offers a glimpse into the local culture and the opportunity to purchase handcrafted goods and medicinal plants. The centre also provides accommodation and a range of activities, including hiking, swimming, canoeing, horse riding, and bird watching.

This Drakensberg introduction also offers the following useful sections. So click on them to learn more about this magnificent region:


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