Whether you’re a serious hiker with decades worth of experience up your sleeve or a first timer, you’ll find plenty of hiking trails in Drakensberg to accommodate your skill level. The region is known for its impressively tall mountain peaks up to 3,000 meters high, a enormous cluster of caves, and is home to preserved rock art from the early San people (some of them as 100,000 years old). So bust out your hiking boots and get ready to explore the natural beauty that is Drakensberg, South Africa. Here are some of the best hiking spots to check out in the region.
Visit majestic mountains and historic caves in Giant’s Castle Game Reserve that has several hiking trail routes. Hikers will have several options depending on what they want to see. For a spectacular spot to get a view of the mountain ranges, hike across Bannerman Bridge and continue for approximately three hours to Sugarloaf Kop. Or go on a more challenging five hour hike on a path to Pastfergy’s Cave to see historic dwellings. For first timers who are unable to make the rough hike, go on the more idyllic River Walk, a route through the forest that takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Hiking while it’s hot? You’ll want to visit Champagne Pools where swimming is permitted. Keep your eyes peeled for giant elands that are known to graze in the area.
History buffs, you’ll love this. Kill two birds with one stone by going on a stunning hike and seeing ancient rock art left behind by the San people thousands of years ago. The site is also believed to be the first ancient art discovered by Europeans. Visit the Rock Art Centre, from there go on the Game Pass Shelter trail tour where a skilled guide will take you to local rock art sites and explain the history and scientific findings behind them. The tours are held several times daily.
Injisuthi Battle Cave Walk
Smack dab in the middle of Drakensberg is an 11 kilometer long trail. Injisuthi Battle Cave Walk will take guests through scenic routes past a river and a cave. The Battle Cave is an enormous sandstone famous for its rock paintings from the San people. There, hikers will find rock art of animals and hunters, and its considered rare to see rock art that shows hunters in the act. The aggressive interaction between the animals and hunters is where Battle Cave earned its name. Stay overnight in its Lower Injisuthi Cave (you’ll need to book in advance for this) to extend your hiking adventure.
Ampitheater Heritage Trail
This trail is for seasoned hikers only. First timers may want to consider a guide if they wish to embark on this challenging route. Ampitheater Heritage Trail stretches for five kilometers but zigzags 1,200 meters high to the top of the plateau. It takes approximately 7 hours to complete this hike but it’s well worth the adventure as you’ll come across a jaw-dropping view of mountains and the Tugela River. The plateau is so high that you’ll look down to birds flying below. For the fittest of the fit hikers, you may want to try the more difficult Sentinel Peak Trail that takes a full day to climb to the top. There are several chain ladders implanted along the way for hikers to literally climb their way to the top. There are hiking cabins in the area at affordable prices for guests who wish to take breaks from their hiking adventures.
In central Drakensberg, Champagne Valley is the place to be to see multiple waterfalls in the midst of peaks. There are several hiking trails to take you through iconic peaks like Monk’s Cowl, Cathkin and Champagne Castle. Hikers will also get a chance to explore a fern forest that’s conveniently close to Champagne Castle. If you wish to hike futher, you may come across Keith Bush Camp to see early dwellings of the San people. Camp overnight and extend your hike, and you will come across more scenic sights like Stable Cave, Zulu Cave, Sterkspruit Falls, and Crystal Falls.
Right on the border of Lesotho is a recognizable mountain — Cathedral Peak in the Mdodelelo Wilderness. It’s the best spot for seeing early rock art as there are about 4,000 documented works of art found in about 17 different locations. Seasoned hikers will face a steep climb on sharp rocks up to 3,000 meters above sea level. The hike is strenuous and can take a full day to complete, but many hiking experts will tell you to break the hiking time in half, camp overnight and continue so you don’t over-exhaust yourself. Guests can also opt to stay overnight at the Cathedral Peak Hotel and go on their hike from there. The hotel offers guided tours to see caves and some of the rock art.
More from AFKTravel: