Known as "Ukahlamba" (the barrier
of spears) by the Zulus and the "Drakensberg" (dragon mountain) by the
Voortrekkers. the mountain range is a rampart of sandstone and basalt,
separating the lush Indian Ocean coastline from the dryer and harsher interior
of the region. Most of this escarpment falls under the Ukahlamba-Drakensberg
With simply gorgeous scenery,
the grasslands are green in the summer following the rains and a lighter,
more delicate, blonde colour, often touched by snow, in the winter.
The area is a top notch hiking
destination with a range of different trails from one to two hour hikes
right through to the epic Drakensberg Traverse, which takes around three
to four weeks..
art discovered in the area tells the history of the San - or Bushmen -
who originally made the area their home, before more aggressive tribes
people pushed them out.
Besides the mountainous scenery,
the area is home to more than 2,500 flowering plants, many endemic to the
Drakensberg, along with a range of game including eland, other antelope
and baboons. Birding is an adventure, where fans can spot the rare Lammergeier,
or bearded vulture, swooping in the skies.
Talking of swooping, the
slopes of the mountains are ideal for paragliding, especially at Oliviershoek
and Bulwer, while brave ice climbers can test their skills on the frozen
waterfalls in winter.
Other sports activities include
mountain biking, 4x4 trails and pony trekking up in the hills.
Africa's Singing Ambassadors - The Drakensberg Boys' Choir. They Will Rock
You! by Brian Kemp
The Drakensberg Boys' Choir
School was founded in 1965, with 20 students. The dream? To build something
that would rival the Vienna Boys' Choir. But not in a European city steeped
in history and tradition. In the boondocks. In the middle of the magnificently
scenic Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg.
They call them South Africa's
singing ambassadors. And if you're planning a trip to South Africa this
is something you just have to put on your itinerary. Yes, yes I know you're
going to Cape Town and you want to do a wildlife safari but this is not
to be missed. They'll give you goosebumps and they'll make you cry. And
you'll never forget them. They tour and compete internationally every year.
Now, they take in about 100
children a year. It's not that easy to get in and auditions are held countrywide.
They get a first-class education and a very active outdoor lifestyle in
their rugged Drakensberg paradise. So think crisp mountain air. Big blue
skies. In the winter, snow-capped peaks. And exquisite tenor harmonies.
Where, when and how much?
Let's start with where. Well once you've ticked the Big 5 and had your
fill of Table Mountain, you're going to need to take a little detour into
KwaZulu Natal. Find Route 600 into the Central Drakensberg and you're there.
When? Every Wednesday afternoon during school terms at 3:30. (Although
it's a relatively big 600-seater auditorium in the middle of nowhere, booking
is essential - phone (+27 (0)36 468 1012).
And the music? Well the first
half of the 3-hour concert is classical. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven - they
do the gamut. Then hang onto your seat and prepare yourself for diversity.
It could be Queen, music from the movies or gut-wrenching African rhythms
and harmonies. A spellbinding and enthralling performance.
South Africa's Singing Ambassadors
- The Drakensberg Boys' Choir. They Will Rock You!
Guest Farm, Guest House, Bergview, CENTRAL DRAKENSBERG We provide personal, farm-style
accommodation on a Dinner, Bed & Breakfast basis. Ardmore Guest farm
is situated in the enchanting Champagne valley of the central Drakensberg,
just below the majestic Champagne Castle (2nd highest peak in South Africa
at 3377m) and Cathkin Peak Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Your hosts, Sue and Paul Ross, will conspire with the magnificent scenery
and tranquil atmosphere to make your visit a memorable experience. Ardmore
– the perfect lodging when you travel South Africa. Our guests can
choose between our three types of en suite accommodation all with tea/coffee
Nest B&B, Winterton, Battlefields, CENTRAL DRAKENSBERG Swallows Nest Bed and Breakfast
is situated in the village of Winterton, within 20 km from the Drakensberg
mountain range. It features a garden and free WiFi in the reception and
dining area. Individually decorated rooms offer a patio and come equipped
with satellite TV, a microwave and tea-and-coffee-making facilities. The
en-suite bathroom includes free toiletries. Swallows Nest serves breakfast
daily in the dining room and dinner is available upon request. Guests can
make use of the barbecue facilities. Nearby attractions include Spioenkop
Battlefield and Nature reserve and the Winterton Museum & Info Centre.
Activities such as hiking, mountain biking, river rafting and quad biking
are popular in the Central Drakensberg region, and there are a number of
golf course nearby..
Country Lodge @ Rose Cottage, B&B/Self-Catering, CENTRAL DRAKENSBERG A perfect stop over or hide
away from everydays chaos! Romantic and quaint! Abundant birdlife with
peace and tranquility! Indulge yourself in our lovely garden, cool
down in the inviting splash pool or try some flyfishing in the dam. Enjoy
a sundowner in the lapa, overlooking the majestic drakensberg. Treat yourself
with a homestyle cooked dinner at candle light. A hearty farm breakfast
will be served in the charming dining room or in the lapa. Arts & crafts,
golfing, hiking, horseriding, game reserve, quad biking, river rafting,
well known Drakensberg boys choir School and much much more, close by!
Make your pleasure our pleasure!!
RECOMMENDED BY OUR TRAVEL PARTNER: Drakensview
Self Catering, Holiday Apartments, Winterton, NORTHERN DRAKENSBERG Drakensview Self Catering
is located 5 kilometres from Winterton. The property offers landscape views
of the scenic surrounds and majestic Drakensberg mountain range. The modern
apartments come complete with a patio offering views of the mountain and
garden. These open plan and air-conditioned apartments feature a private
entrance, small seating area and a kitchen. Extras include a flat-screen
TV and desk. Drakensview Self Catering offers BBQ facilities and activities
in the surrounding area include cycling and fishing. The Winterton Museum
is a 5-minute drive away and the Spioenkop Nature Reserve is within 13
Kop Lodge, Self-Catering/B&B, Winterton, Battlefields, CENTRAL DRAKENSBERG SPION KOP LODGE : (KwaZulu
Natal) tranquil and relaxing with a choice of activities, has been transformed
into a beautiful 4 Star Lodge, offering an Out of Africa Experience, with
warm hospitality, 8 well-appointed, double-ensuite bedrooms, plus two self-contained
cottages, is set in tranquil, park like grounds. Housing a library,
cosy pub, conference centre, swimming pool and dining room with breathtaking
views, fine cuisine. This owner-managed destination, situated on
a 703 hectare ecco farm, offers Battlefield Tours, Birding, Boat cruises,
Game Viewing, Drakensberg Mountain Hikes and Horse-riding amongst the animals.
Relive the past that changed the future!
RECOMMENDED BY PREVIOUS GUESTS: Treks,
Trips and Trails, Self-Catering Chalets, Bergview, CENTRAL DRAKENSBERG Offering
views of the Bell Park Dam and the distant peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains,
Treks, Trips and Trails features well-appointed self-catering chalets in
the Champagne Valley. Each of the free standing chalets features a kitchen
with microwave, oven, stove and kitchenware as well as a seating area with
sofa. Guests can enjoy views of the valley and the mountains. Treks, Trips
and Trails has a rock pool and BBQ facilities. An array of activities can
be enjoyed on site or in the surroundings, including cycling, fishing and
hiking. The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is about 145 km away.
Peak Hotel, DRAKENSBERG PARK Cathedral Peak Hotel is
famous for warm hospitality, luxurious accommodation and excellent cuisine.
This award winning resort has achieved the perfect balance between being
a family resort and a premier conference venue. Accomodation, ranging
from Deluxe Suites to Family Interleading Duluxe Suites, is available to
Safarinow.com clients. A wide range of sporting facilities offered
at the Hotel includes daily guided walks, guided horse and pony rides,
tennis, squash,swimming, bowls, volleyball, table tennis, badminton, floodlit
mini-adventure golf & trout fishing. The hotel’s immaculate 9-hole
golf course has been termed “the thinking golfer’s course” and has alternate
tees for a challenging 18-hole game. A stunning recreational area
complete with heated pool, gym and steam bath is set against the backdrop
of the spectacular Cathedral range. The pool bar & braai boma offer
spectacular views of the valley and golf course.
BY OUR TRAVEL PARTNER: The
Nest Drakensberg Mountain Resort Hotel, DRAKENSBERG PARK This hotel offers spacious
accommodation with views of the garden or Drakensberg Mountain. It is surrounded
by lush green fields in the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg UNESCO World Heritage
Site. The bright rooms are situated throughout the grounds and feature
a traditional, country-style décor. Heating and a fan are available
for climate control. Toiletries are provided in the bathroom. The Nest’s
restaurant serves traditional South African country cooking, including
a 6-course dinner. In the morning and afternoon, tea and coffee is offered
on the veranda overlooking the Drakensberg Mountain. In the main building,
there is a bar with a lounge area featuring plush chairs and a fireplace.
Guests can play a game of billiards or swim in the outdoor pool. Younger
guests can enjoy the playground.
As in many parts of the world,
the later part of the 19th Century was a time of conflict and confrontation
in South Africa, particularly the area we now call KwaZulu-Natal. The British
were at the height of their empire-building zeal, the Zulu nation was one
of the most powerful in Africa, and the Boers had shaken the dust of British
colonialism off their velskoens, and set off into the interior to take
control of their own destiny.
that sounds like a recipe for disaster. And it was - for everyone concerned.
A real free-for-all scrap, there were skirmishes, stand-up battles, sieges
and ambushes. No one - Boer, Brit or Zulu - came away unscathed. The stories
are fascinating, and the KZN battlefields are remarkably well preserved.
It's not just a raa-raa recreation of sabre-rattling macho imperialism,
and it's certainly not a celebration of all things bellicose.
Guided tours offer you the
opportunity to stand on the very spot where history was made and hear of
how decisions (good and bad) were taken; hear of heroism and heartache,
of victory and defeat and of death and destruction. It's definitely food
for thought - and it leaves almost everyone pondering on the futility of
For the historically inclined,
these battles include Voortrekker-Zulu war (1836-1852), the Anglo-Zulu
War (1879), two Anglo-Boer wars, one in 1881, and the big one, otherwise
known as the South African war (1899-1902), and the Bambata Rebellion (1906).
An interesting thing about these battlefields is that some of the biggest
players on the planet chose to spend time there.
You can't help but wonder
how different world history would have been if the young Winston Churchill
or the equally young, zealous and idealistic Mahatma Gandhi had succumbed
during these battles. Or if Prince Louis Napoleon, the last of the Bonaparte
line, had survived his little altercation with a small band of Zulu warriors
and had gone on to meet some lovely young lady and perpetuate the dynasty.
You can visit the Ultimatum
Tree, near Tugela Mouth, where the British pulled a fast one on the Zulu
chief Cetswayo, or Gingindlovu, where the Zulus were more than a little
surprised to be the first people in the world to feel the force of the
Gatling gun (precursor to the now ubiquitous AK 47s, Uzis and other automatic
weapons), or mGungundlovu, where the Zulu chief, Dingaan, feeling somewhat
threatened by the Boer's obvious land-lust, did away with the Voortrekker
Piet Retief and his followers in a rather grisly way.
This was followed by a raid
on the Boer encampment at Bloukrans, where the Zulus pretty well trashed
the Boers. Oh - human history - and then the Boers sent a punitive expedition
after the Zulus and, after making a deal with god (I kid you not) trashed
the Zulus at the rather ironically named Ncome River (which means peace).
It was consequently renamed Blood River, which seems far more appropriate.
It's like kindergarten - 'but he hit me first....' We never learn, do we?
Other oft-visited sites include
Isandlwana - the site of Britain's most humiliating defeat - and the nearby
Rorke's Drift where a handful of resourceful redcoats did what they could
to salvage imperial pride (not to mention their own skins), Ladysmith,
site of one of the longest sieges (119 days) in the South African War,
and Dundee, with its Talana Museum on the site of the Talana Battle.
area known today as Zululand was, initially ignored by the British when
they imperiously annexed what was then referred to as Natal and the Zulus
retained sovereignty over all the land north of the Buffalo and Tugela
Rivers - for a while, at least. The overlap is quite broad - the battlefields
comprises large parts of Zululand and extends as far as Pietermaritzburg,
almost to the foot of the Drakensberg, and Zululand covers much of the
battlefield territory, while extending further north to St Lucia in the
southern part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, where the border between
northern Zululand and southern Maputaland is rather hazy. Zululand also
includes the fantastic Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, which is the ancestral
home of all the white rhinos now living in southern Africa. Seriously -
they were extinct everywhere else and were brought back from the brink
in this rather lovely park. Imagine - we came a hair's breadth from never,
ever seeing a white rhino.
There's loads to do here.
A tour of the battlefields is a given - either by vehicle, by foot or on
horseback. And it probably won't be long before someone offers cycle tours.
There are some great river trips, with the Tugela and Buffalo Rivers throwing
up some challenging white water. Wilderness walks in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi
are a truly awesome adventure - it's a real wilderness experience in Big
Five country. If you want to see the picture-book Zulus, there are a handful
of cultural villages that offer dancing, an insight into traditional crafts
and some historical and cultural insights. And, of course, there are the
beaches - all long and lovely.