As you approach the Drakensberg the view sends tingles down your spine. The great rock wall which the Zulus call the Barrier of Spears rises up before you, awe-inspiring jagged peaks rising to 3300m. Its scale is overwhelming, leaving even the most seasoned traveller speechless.
You are spending two weeks inside this walkers’ paradise, based in two very different centres - Cathedral Peak in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park and the family run Cavern Berg Resort on the edge of the Royal Natal National Park. Each centre has its own distinct beauty and character but both share the magnificent mountain views.
Cathedral Peak nestles into the hillside and is one of the best hotels we feature. It is a small ‘oasis’ set in the most stunning scenery. Your walks can start directly from the hotel and head out onto the surrounding peaks and hills to the Doreen Falls, Neptune Pools and Rainbow Gorge to name but a few. On the walks keep your eyes open for at least some of the 121 resident bird species.
At Cavern Berg you walk amongst fantastic flora and fauna, indigenous forests and equally spectacular scenery. The walks here have evocative names such as ‘Camel’s Hump via Cannibal Cavern’ and ‘The Silent Woman via Jackal Ridge’. You will see baboons roaming over the hills close to the Cavern and there are over 200 species of birds. We spend much of our time in the Royal Natal National Park where the San Bushmen have lived for over 5000 years. You will come across some of their ancient rock paintings on your walks.
On a couple of the days the walks may be nearer a grade 7. However there are alternative walks for those who do not wish to participate at this level.
Depart London Heathrow on the overnight British Airways flight to Johannesburg.
On arrival in Johannesburg, we travel by road to the ‘Cathedral Peak Hotel’ in the Central Drakensberg region, where we shall spend our first week.
Walking in the beautiful Mlambonia river valley surrounded by the majestic Drakensberg for the following six days.
Some of the walks that we hope to include whilst discovering the Cathedral Peak National Park are as follows:
BLUE POOLS’ (WITH AN EXTENSION TO ‘NEPTUNE’S POOLS’) This is a great walk to ease us in on the first day, and serve as an acclimatisation walk. The path follows the course of the ‘Tsheketshe River’ toward the ‘Nyosi Falls’ on the ‘Nyosi River’ and offers lovely views, the opportunity to bathe in the cold mountain streams and perhaps the chance to see baboons. We may combine this walk with an extension to ‘Neptune’s Pools’ in the ‘uMlambonja Valley’. Access to ‘Neptune Pools’ involves crossing the river. 5 miles (8kms), ascent / descent 200m 3 hours.
RAINBOW GORGE AND THE HANGING BOULDER The views on this walk towards ‘Cathedral Peak’, ‘Baboon Rock’ and over to ‘Didima Rock Art Centre’ are spectacular. The route follows the course of the ‘eNdumeni River’. Once in the ‘Rainbow Gorge’ there is much of interest to see: indigenous forest, wild flowers, fungi and beautiful waterfalls. Our aim is to reach the ’Hanging Boulder’! This walk offers the opportunity for some members of the group to return to the hotel without having to attempt the rougher terrain in the gorge if they wish. 8 miles (12kms), ascent / descent 200m 5 hours.
MUSHROOM ROCK’, THE ‘TARN’ & DESCENT VIA ‘RIBBON FALLS’ OR OVER ‘TRYME On a clear day this walk is one of the highlights of the holiday as it affords spectacular views of the higher peaks and gives the sense of being alone in a vast landscape. 6½ miles (10.6kms), ascent / descent 750m 5 hours.
RIBBON FALLS’ AND ‘TRYME HILL This is a walk to some attractive waterfalls with a nearby cave, and an extension to go onto the plateau. This walk involves a long descent, but rewards us with superb views over ‘Rainbow Gorge’. 8 miles (12kms), ascent / descent 750m 6 hours.
We travel northwards to the ‘Cavern Berg Resort’ and the ‘Royal Natal National Park’ region, our base for the second week.
Exploring this breathtaking national park area, for the following six days. The Park acquired the ‘Royal’ title after a visit to the now demolished ‘National Park Hotel’ by the British Royal Family in 1947.
Some of the walks that we hope to include whilst discovering the Cavern Berg area are as follows:
THE SILENT WOMAN’ VIA ‘JACKAL RIDGE’ WITH POSSIBLE EXTENSION TO ‘BISHOP’S INKABA’ AND ‘ECHO CAVE This is a fairly easy walk, and a good short option to be combined with a free afternoon. Alternatively it can be extended by crossing the river just below the ‘Silent Woman’ and following a well-trodden path which swings round anti-clockwise to ‘Bishop’s Inkaba’ (river crossing), and then along to ‘Echo Cave to make this a good grade 6 walk. 4-7 miles (6-11kms), ascent / descent 250m or 700m, 4 or 6 hours.
SUGARLOAF’ VIA ‘LONE ROCK’ AND ‘COLD HILL’ RETURN ‘Sugarloaf’ is the rounded peak high up behind the hotel at 2,085m above sea level. The view from ‘Sugarloaf’ is spellbinding over the ’Little Berg’ and the Great Escarpment. (from ‘Sugarloaf’ you can survey the area you have walked or will walk over the course of the week) on a clear day have views back over to ‘Cathedral Peak’. The views of the ‘Amphitheatre’ from here are marvellous. This walk requires a very slow pace especially as there is no shade on this route but with an early start you can be back at the hotel in time for tea and cake!, and to escape the midday sun. It can be very windy on top of ‘Sugarloaf’ and along the ridge. 6½ miles (10kms), ascent / descent 750m, 6 hours.
THE AMPHITHEATRE A real highlight of the trip! There are stunning views on this walk as well as beautiful flowers in the Spring/early Summer. For those not wishing or unable to go up the gully/ladders, there are options to return back to where our transfer bus will be waiting. 8 miles (12kms), ascent / descent 412m to Tugela Falls or 700m to Mont-aux-Sources, 5 hours.
We return to Johannesburg for our overnight flight back to London.
Arrival in London.
See where this holiday travels to.
The Cathedral Peak Hotel, is a beautiful resort hotel in the shadow of Cathedral Peak, the highest mountain in the Drakensberg. Open since 1939, Cathedral Peak offers traditional combined with luxury accommodation with spectacular views. It's one of our most popular hotels.
The Cavern Drakensberg Resort, set at 1500m on the edge of the Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg Mountains close to the magnificent Amphitheatre escarpment.