Famous for its San rock art, the Drakensberg was named ‘Ukhahlamba’ by the Zulu people and ‘The Dragon Mountain’ by the Dutch Voortrekkers. The awe-inspiring Drakensberg Mountains, with their massive cliffs towering over grasslands, riverine bush, lush yellowwood forests, fresh mountain streams and cascading waterfalls, form an enormous barrier separating KwaZulu-Natal from the Kingdom of Lesotho.
In combining sheer natural beauty with a wealth of biological diversity, this 243 000-hectare mountainous region known the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park well deserves its international status as a World Heritage Site.
The lower slopes of these mountains were once teeming with herds of eland, prized game for the San, the original inhabitants of this region. Some 350 years ago they were displaced by African tribes and the arrival of early European settlers, but evidence of their reverence of the eland can still be seen as rock art in numerous cave and overhang sites between Royal Natal National Park in the north and Bushman’s Nek in the south.
The popular and easily accessible Giant’s Castle Main Cave Museum is the commercialised of any rock-art site and is a mere half-hour hike on well-marked paths.
But for a more off the beaten track experience visit the Kamberg Rock Art Centre for a guided four-km hike up to the Game Pass Shelter to view the incredibly well-preserved San paintings depicting their way of life – chances are you’ll be the only ones visiting.
Your local guide will explain the history and culture of the San people as well as the meaning behind the art.
Enjoy the wildflowers and diverse grasses on-route, look out for eland, bushbuck and gazing skywards one might be lucky and spot a Lammergeier, the endangered bearded vulture.
Specials for birders in this region are the Drakensberg siskin and the Drakensberg (orange-breasted) rock jumper.
It is a tough hike if you’re unfit but take it slowly, enjoy the views and fill your water-bottle from the mountain stream… the result is well worth the effort!
Read more beach, bush and battlefields off the beaten track experiences in Responsible Traveller digital mag HERE