Drakensberg

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ClickDrakensberg

 

I’ve traveled the world, and have yet to find a mountain range as beautiful as the Drakensberg! No other place on earth enjoys such diversity of scenery. From the rolling foothills, with their richly-covered grassy slopes, indigenous forests, stately proteas and wild flowers (mostly in Spring and Summer), to the summit escarpment with its free-standing peaks, pinnacles, towers and rocky buttresses – not to mention the great wall of the ‘berg with its sheer precipices down which tumble gigantic waterfalls (the Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world) – the Drakensberg is unique. The seasonal changes in this mountain terrain are also unmatched – nowhere else can one find such a huge variation between Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring – a photographer’s paradise!

I was fortunate to spend my boyhood years exploring the Drakensberg with my father, Reg Pearse, who in his lifetime became the undisputed authority on the ‘berg, having spent a lifetime mapping the area (early 1950s), and doing research into the history of the climbs, the early settlers, the rock art, the flora and fauna, and the geomorphology of the area. This research led to three magnificent books on the ‘berg: the classic Barrier of Spears, Mountain Splendour, and Dragon’s Wrath.

Today, this mountain paradise attracts serious climbers, hikers, as well as holiday makers seeking leisure who enjoy excellent accommodation in some of the finest mountain resorts in the world. Camping facilities are also available in most areas. The entire region has ‘World Heritage’ status.

Summit Ventures is delighted to be able to offer first-hand advice on this mountain range. We can also refer you to some excellent guides, who offer highly knowledgeable and professional services.

Copies of Barrier of Spears (2008 edition) are available from us at a discounted price.

Barrier of Spears

 

Click on address to access e-mailEnquiries: summitventures@mweb.co.za

 

ClickWorld Heritage Site

 

Drakensberg

 

The Drakensberg was given World Heritage status by UNESCO in November 2000, and has since been named the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. Known to the Zulus, who inhabited the region in earlier times, as uKhahlamba (a ‘barrier of up-pointed spears’), and to the Dutch settlers as the Drakensberg (or ‘Dragon Mountains’), the name reflects the multi-cultural history of this 5,000 km2 wilderness area. It stretches over some 400 km of escarpment separating eastern Lesotho and the provinces of KwaZulu/Natal and the Orange Free State. It is only one of three ‘sites’ in the world that is listed as having both cultural and environmental significance.

The area is especially suited to hiking/climbing and holiday making due to its excellent weather. Although the terrain experiences extremes in temperature, both hot and cold, these conditions seldom last for more than a few days at a time.

The region offers some superb rock climbing (with ice climbing in winter), as well as a vast range of backpacking opportunities, varying from easy lower ‘berg routes along marked or well-defined paths, to multi-day high-altitude traverses which can severely test both the physical strength and navigational skills of climbers. Unless hikers are planning to visit rock art sites, guides are not required, and all they need to find their way around is a good map and a measure of common sense.

But the park presents far more than just hiking and climbing oppertunities. It offers relaxation, horse trails, golf, cultural experiences (rock art), canopy tours, abseiling, white water rafting, helicopter flips, restaurants, arts and crafts, and local cheese makers – just to mention a few of the other attractions available.

Accommodation includes camping, caravan parks, hotels, backpackers lodges, guest houses, B&Bs, and self catering cottages. The internet will guide you in choosing the right place to stay.

 

ClickDrakensberg New Year event - 2010

 

For the New Year weekend of 2010, Summit Ventures took over most of a superb resort on the brink of the escarpment close to Oliviers Hoek, called the Drakensberg Mountain Retreat, to host a group of enthusiastic guests who wanted to spend the New Year in a quiet setting away from the noise and bustle of city life. Gone were the firecrackers, the screeching traffic, the drunkenness and the threat of crime. Gone were the late-night parties and city revelers that cause chaos in our suburbs. In an idyllic setting we welcomed in the New Year with the full moon blazing above, lighting up the surroundings, its warm rays casting a glow across the hills and valleys that form the approach to the High Berg. However, at midnight we did have our own fireworks display – but a natural one: thunder storms raged along the full length of the ‘berg with a continual display of lightning flickering over the high peaks. A sight we will remember for many years to come!

    A superb New Year Dinner was served at 8 o’clock, and this was followed by a slide-show, “Dawn to Dusk in the Drakensberg”, with cocktails and greetings at midnight. Then to bed for a peaceful night, followed by an early rising for a full day’s walk in the Royal Natal National Park. The following day we set off for an excursion up the Sentinel Chain Ladder, but had to return early because of torrential rain! Other day-time activities on offer included visits to Retief Klip, rock-art sites, and the Escom Hydro plant.

    We enjoyed a full, fun-filled weekend – an event we are sure to repeat in years to come.

    The Drakensberg Mountain Retreat offers delightful accommodation, excellent food, and beautiful surroundings. We heartily recommend this resort to all our friends. 

 

 

The Drakensberg Mountain Retreat is a picturesque destination in the northern Drakensberg. It’s spectacular views, wildness, freshness and beauty will captivate you while its deep silence will soon calm you. The Lodge is comfortably furnished and has an elegant old-fashioned feel, while maintaining that rustic farmhouse charm. The tasty and wholesome food is cooked with passion and loved by the guests. Most bedrooms have their own sitting room and some have cosy fireplaces. The lounges, dining room and enclosed verandah have stunning views of the Amphitheatre and Royal Natal National Park. The resort has two indoor heated pools.

 

Drakensberg Mountain Retreat

Just three hours away from Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein, yet a million miles away from the rat race.

info@drakensbergretreat.co.za

Visit www.drakensbergretreat.co.za for more details.

 

ClickRecommended Reading

 

Books in order of publication:

The Drakensberg of Natal, by Doyle Liebenberg, 1972. Published by T.V. Bulpin: Cape Town.

Barrier of Spears, by R.O. Pearse, illustrations by Malcolm L. Pearse, 1973. Published by Howard Timmins (Revised Editions, 1989 - Southern Books Johannesburg / 2006 - Art Publishers.

A Cradle of Rivers, by David Dodds, 1975. Published by Purnell & Sons.

Mountain Splendour, by R.O. Pearse, 1978. Howard Timmins: Cape Town.

A Camera in Quathlamba, by Malcolm L. Pearse, 1980. Howard Timmins: Cape Town. /

A Field Guide to the Natal Drakensberg, by Dave & Pat Irwin, 1980. (Revised Edition, 1992). Rhodes University Press: Grahamstown.

Dragon’s Wrath, by R.O.Pearse and James Byrom, illustrations by Malcolm L. Pearse, 1986. Published by Macmillan. (Revised Edition, 1997. Published by Jonathan Ball: Johannesburg.)

Drakensberg Walks – 120 Graded Hikes, by David Bristow, 1988. Published by C. Struik.

A Field Guide to the Flora of the Natal Drakensberg, by Donald Killick, 1990. Jonathan Ball.

A Guide to the Drakensberg, by August Sycholt, 2002. Published by Struik.

Scenic Drakensberg, by August Sycholt, 2003. Produced by Sunbird Publishing.

Best Walks of the Drakensberg, by David Bristow, 2003. Published by Struik / Getaway.

Serpent Spires, by Duncan Souchon, 2005. Published by Jonathan Ball (Pty) Ltd.

uKhahlamba – Drakensberg Park (World Heritage Sites of South Africa), by Philip Briggs, 2006. Published by 30° South Publishers (Pty) Ltd.

Encounters With The Dragon, by John Hone, 2007. Produced by Art Publishers (Pty) Ltd.

 

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