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Holiday In The Berg

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal (The Zulu name uKhahlamba meaning barrier of the spears and the Afrikaans name Drakensberg meaning dragon mountains) is a beautiful series of mountain peaks that form the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho.

These majestic mountains are a favourite holiday destination for South Africans and international visitors alike. uKhahlamba makes a perfect excursion - the mountains are three to four hours of easy driving from
Durban. However, one visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is not enough to experience the full magnitude of its grandeur or the experiences offered.

The park is well over 240 000 hectares in extent, running 200 kilometres north to south, and about 50 kilometres west to east, making for one of the biggest conservation areas in South Africa.

In addition, the natural diversity comprises over 2 100 plant species, more than 200 of which are endemic to the area, over 60 species of mammal, including the threatened oribi and herds of eland and black wildebeest as well as nearly 50 species of reptile and more than 300 bird species. The site also harbours endangered species such as the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus).

A prime drawcard are the 500 known sites of San rock art, with over 40 000 images, many of which are believed to be around 2400 years old. Using mainly orange, yellow, black and white made from mixing natural materials such as clay, burnt wood and ochre oxides, San artists documented both their outer and inner worlds.

The 'Berg' as is often affectionately called may be divided into the northern, central and southern sections.
In the very north is Royal Natal National Park which includes the world famous 'Amphitheatre'. The Amphitheatre spans approximately five kilometres in length, while extending an estimated 500 metres in height. Just beyond the Amphitheatre, one finds the Mont-aux-Sources peak, which is where the Orange River begins its journey to the Atlantic Ocean.

Here you will also find the Thukela River, which gushes down the mountain forming the 850m-high Tugela Falls, the highest waterfall in Africa and the second highest in the world. The central Drakensberg region consists of the Cathedral Peak, Champagne Castle, Monks Cowl, Cathkin Peak, Injasuti and Giants Castle. The Central Drakensberg can be reached from the N3 via the Bergville, Estcourt and Winterton off ramps between the towns of Harrismith and Mooi River.

The Drakensberg Boys
Choir School is situated in the Champagne Valley and is one of the few South African schools whose fame extends around the world. During the school term visitors to the area may attend one of the Wednesday concerts for an entertaining performance.

The Southern Drakensberg stretches from Bushman's Nek to Kamberg, incorporating the villages of Underberg, Himeville, Bulwer and surrounding areas. Near Himeville you will find the Sani Pass, which provides the only road link between KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho, and is the only road crossing the summit of the Drakensberg. Sani Pass road will take you to a summit altitude of 2876m where you can stop off for a beer and a meal at the highest pub in Africa - The Sani Mountain Lodge.

The entire Drakensberg area has a wide range of accommodation that will suit all ages and pockets, including upmarket hotels, lodges, B&B and self-catering accommodation as well as camping facilities and caves.

The Berg offers activities for everyone; whether this may be relaxing on a hotel veranda enjoying the beautiful scenery, swimming and fishing in natural rock pools and rivers, clambering up to dramatic waterfalls or caves with San rock art or climbing chain ladders. There are also many opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, trail running and other adventure or leisure activities.

Many of the Drakensberg resorts are family-oriented offering everything from bingo to heli-flips, adventure golf to full golf courses, archery and ziplines to every kind of racquet game, plus a daily entertainment programme for young children.

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