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The uKhuhlamga Drakensberg Park - whether you go by the Zulu name, uKhuhlamba meaning ‘barrier of spears’, or the Afrikaans name Drakensberg meaning ‘dragon mountains’, you’ll get the message – this mountain range is awesome in every way. And here, by the way, the dragon’s breath is crisp and invigorating, bound to re-energise body and soul.
UNESCO is lavish in its description of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park which encompasses South Africa's highest mountain range. We quote the organisation's words because we couldn't have said it any better. This South African World Heritage Site, it states ‘has exceptional natural beauty in its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts.'
A spine stretching some 150km long, the most scenic sights in the park carry equally evocative names - Cathedral Peak, Giant's Castle and Monk's Cowl are just some. A particularly renowned uKhahlamba Drakensberg attraction is found in the Royal Natal National Park which forms part of this park, namely the Amphitheatre, a wall of rock 5 km in length and 1 000 m high. From its domed summit at Mont-aux-Sources spill the spectacular Tugela Falls. Brushed with a dusting of snow in the winter, the ‘berg' as the site is affectionately termed by locals, is picture-perfect.
This is a place to exercise the body, fuelled with crisp, clean air. Hiking, rock climbing and trout fishing are major activities. There are also game parks in the area where where a wide variety of African antelope can be seen, and bird life is magnificent, with the bearded vulture or lammergeier often circling above. Plant life includes the indigenous protea, rare cycads and ancient tree ferns.
For 4 000 years or so, these precipices were home to the indigenous San people. Though they have largely disappeared from South Africa, they have left their mark in the form of rock art. Some 20 000 paintings in 500 caves and overhangs have been recorded in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, yet another reason the area has earned UNESCO's vote.
The uKhahlamba Drakensburg tourism infrastructure includes a good range of accommodation facilities from country hotels to camping sites.