A Guide to the Drakensberg Mountains

Deciding on what part of the Drakensberg mountains to visit can be difficult.

I lived in the Drakensberg for over 15 years and of course I have my favourite areas to visit, but here, I’ll discuss the regions and their attractions briefly so that, when you decide to visit, you’ll have an idea on where to go…

Areas of the Drakensberg Mountains

The Northern Drakensberg is located about 300km from Johannesburg and would take about 3-3½ hours by road to travel there. The Royal Natal National Park is located in this region and the most photographed mountain peaks known as the amphitheatre, can be seen from most accommodation options. It is an area well known for its scenic beauty and hikes. There is an adventure centre open to the public, horse rising activities, a golf course and numerous walks. It the area with the best hospitality from the luxury lodges and hotels right down to the B&B’s!

The Central Drakensberg spans such a vast area across the Ukhahlamba World Heritage site that I’ll have to break it up into 5 regions. When most people talk about the Central Drakensberg they mean the Champagne Valley or Cathedral Peak.

Cathedral Peak

(4 hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

This is a valley on its own accessed via Winterton or Bergville and only has 3 accommodation options, the KZN Wildlife campsite, the Didima chalets and the Cathedral peak Hotel. This area is home to majestic Drakensberg mountains peaks, waterfalls and excellent hiking trails.

The Champagne Valley

(4 hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

This valley is a tourist mecca with thousands of beds available and every type of accommodation you could dream of, there are numerous activities, sporting facilities, shops, golf courses and the mountain to climb.


(4½ hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

This hidden valley is a must for people wanting to escape the crowds, there is only one camp that offers campsites and cottages for self-catering, serious hikers will enjoy the number of caves and overnight hiking trails in this area.

Giants Castle

(5 hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

Giant’s Castle is named after the mountain peaks that from a distance look like a sleeping giant. It is well known for its Bushman or San cave museum where life-like Bushman / San figures bring alive scenes of an era past. The walks, rock art, scenery and upmarket facilities have made it very popular.


(5½ hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

Kamberg is located just south of Giants Castle and is home to some of the best Rock art in the Drakensberg mountains and has a new Rock Art interpretive centre which is well worth a visit.

The Southern Drakensberg is located about 250-300km away from Durban and takes between 2½ and 3 hours by road.

The Southern Drakensberg is famed because of the Sani Pass, however there is much more to visit other than the Sani Pass. The two little villages around which you’ll find accommodation are Underberg and Himeville. It received more rainfall than the northern regions and thus is lusher, with larger and steadier streams wonderful for those wanting to do fly-fishing. Accommodation is varied and you will find a place to match your taste and budget.

So, even though I think you should make time to visit all the areas of the Drakensberg, I am aware that time can be a problem so I hope this post will help you to plan an Ukhahlamba World heritage Site visit, whether it be for its natural beauty and wilderness or for the cultural experience of its ancient peoples!

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