The earliest inhabitants of the Drakensberg were Bushmen. These San people lived in harmony with their environment, taking no more than they needed to survive. Sadly, violent clashes with white settlers and Nguni tribes brought their era to an end and all that remains is their remarkable rock craft. Never touch or deface Bushman art. It's irreplaceable! This Drakensberg activity is best experienced at Kamberg
Most Drakensberg resorts offer horse riding as an activity and short to half day rides through the foothills are usually available. To enjoy the wonderful mountain scenery whilst on horseback adds enormously to the outdoor experience. Enthusiasts may book overnight trips setting out from Hillside Camp .
Guided Hikes are normally available on a daily basis from most hotels, resorts and Natal Nature Conservation Services camps. Hikes will vary from easy strolls of about an hour to visit local attractions to more strenuous all day climbs. For the energetic and fit, there is the challenge to make the demanding but exhilarating climb to the top of the main Drakensberg summit!
Stocked dams and streams close to the resorts or in the wilderness areas of the Drakensberg are normally reserved for fly fishing. Fishing is often limited to resident guests only but the KZN Nature Conservation Services have made available several excellent trout dams and stretches of fishable river. Fishing permits are required.
It is hard to resist the temptation of taking a refreshing swim in a crystal clear mountain stream. Summer is paradise with many deep plunge pools to be found in the sandstone bedrock, together with warm rocks to bask on. For the able and adventurous the larger rivers are great for 'shooting the rapids' on tire tubes, but do take care to check the water-course first.
With 180 lesser bird species, bird watchers visiting the Drakensberg will not be disappointed. From the magnificent Lammergeyer (right), Cape Vulture and Black Eagle... to the brightly coloured, diminutive lesser double collared Sunbirds... and vociferous forest and grassland birds, it will be well worth bringing your binoculars.
The climate on the summit plateau is harsh and only hardy Helichrysum shrubs and Alpine grasses are able to survive. Below cave sandstone altitude the vegetation becomes more prolific and is usually characterized by dense fern forests with Yellowwoods and other hardwoods - together with expansive grasslands often covered with Protea trees.
The Drakensberg is home to a quarter of the mammal species indigenous to Southern Africa, and the warmer valleys of the Little Drakensberg are where most will be found. The largest of all antelope, the Eland, is found in the Injasuti and Cathedral Peak Wilderness Reserves and at Spioenkop. Grey Rhebuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Serval cat, Jackal, etc. can also be seen.
Many people come to the Drakensberg simply to escape the hustle, bustle and stress of city life. Here amongst the hills and mountains one can absorb the quiet solitude - or share the peaceful sights and sounds of nature with someone close. Life often takes on a new direction and meaning when observed from an uncluttered perspective.
Resorts are well situated and often offer self catering chalets and restaurants. Sites may vary in facilities with some offering electrical points and private bomas - while others have a more rustic approach. Camping in Parks Board areas is restricted to the official camp site and caves have to be booked before hand at the controlling Parks Board office.
The Drakensberg summit offers excellent hiking and climbing opportunities. Long passes to the top reward hikers with outstanding views of the valleys hundreds of meters below. Hikers need to be aware that splendid, clear sunny days can quickly turn into a snowy nightmare: take care... and always complete the mountain register before setting off.
The summit landscape is covered with grasses and numerous wildflowers... and crystal streams tumbling down the slopes. Do watch out for summer afternoon thunderstorms with their wild lightning.. and even at this time of the year be prepared for sudden cold weather. Besides your camera, be sure to take a jersey and rainjacket.
With their large grain silos Bergville and Winterton are at the center of a very important maize and wheat growing area. Often, these crops can be seen under large overhead irrigation sprayers, along most routes to the Drakensberg. Dairy and beef are also important farming activities and, with the extensive maize fields, combine visually to add to the enjoyable scenery.
Entrances to parks, resorts and roadside view sites are characterized by women skillfully plaiting and weaving grasses. Using an art passed on from mother to daughter, the " gashu" (weaving grass) is woven into a variety of colourful baskets, bowls and mats. Here young boys also compete to sell their cleverly sculpted clay animals.
If you're after "eagles" and "birdies", tee off in the Drakensberg! Tall sandstone cliffs and lush valleys form the backdrop to rolling fairways and challenging greens. Cathedral Peak, Champagne Valley and Hlalanathi host nine hole golf courses and eighteen holes can be found at Champagne Sports Resort in the central Drakensberg.
Drakensberg holidays are not only made by the wonderful ambience and the spirit of the mountains but also by the many friends you meet. And what better place than the local pub where, whilst relating the day's adventures long into the night, the fish are sure to get larger, the mountains higher, the paths a tad longer and the snow deeper... all while the dawn gets closer!