The Drakensberg Mountains (Dragon Mountains) or uKhahlamba (the Barrier of Spears) is a 200-kilometre-long mountainous wonderland and world heritage site. The largest proportion of the Drakensberg area falls in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and is part of the Royal Natal National Park. Awe-inspiring basalt cliffs, snowcapped in winter, tower over riverine bush and lush yellowwood forests and cascading rivers form a massive barrier separating KwaZulu-Natal from the Kingdom of Lesotho.
These epic landscapes are said to have inspired J.R.R Tolkien’s epic trilogy, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, although, he left the region at the age of three and never returned. But once you find yourself along the world famous meandering hiking trails you’ll see why the rumour persists; basalt spires punctuate the horizon as far as the eye can see and the countless San paintings enhance the otherworldly and ancient aura of the region. The Drakensberg Amphitheatre is regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces in the world, beating Yosemite’s famous El Capitan’s cliff by a factor of ten in terms of size!
The mountain range is home to a number of graceful waterfalls which tumble down to the valley below and the impressive collection of crystal clear dams and rivers are extremely popular amongst fly fishers the world over.
A popular destination if you are self-driving through KZN is the Midlands Meander, a region of quaint historic towns which dot the lush valleys of the Drakensburg foothills. The meander comprises of a number of arranged routes which feature leisure activities such as mountain-biking, golfing, birding, water sports and zip lining. Hearty country cuisine meets with gourmet decadence along the routes many esteemed restaurants and quirky pad stalls (farm stalls) and galleries including the unique Ardmore ceramic centre. The green rolling hills have played a decisive role in South Africa’s history with over 80 battlefields from the wars between the Zulu, British, Afrikaners and San including the famous Blood River battle and tours with expert historians can be arranged.
The Midlands Meander is a mere hour’s drive away from Durban and four and half hours’ drive from Johannesburg.