The Northern Region of uKlahlamba DrakensbergBy
A number of major rivers have their source in the northern Drakensberg region, including the Orange and the mighty Tugela which plunges a spectacular 948m in a series of cascades down sheer cliffs as the second highest waterfall in the world. Many smaller falls and streams freeze in stunning fashion during winter with the landscape occasionally transformed into a snowy wonderland.
Dominating the northern heights at the Royal Natal National Park is the distinctive and well-photographed Amphitheatre which forms a great curve of majestiv beauty. Mountain baboons are often seen clambering across the rocky outcrops while soaring birds of prey, such as black eagles and the rare bearded vulture or lammergeier make the most of the uplifting thermals. The unique topography of the region attracts many hikers who enjoy the invigorating mountain air, crystal clear steams, distinctive grasslands and an amazing abundance of flora and fauna on offer amidst the surrounding pinnacles and peaks. Conservation officials provide advice and support to hikers and climbers with detailed maps and well-marked trails on offer. All who venture into the mountains must be sure, for safety’s sake, to fill in the Mountain Rescue register.
Trout and bass occur through the region in well stocked dams and in more challenging form in clear rivers and streams where the serious fly fisherman can enjoy a true fighting challenge. The peace and tranquility on offer coupled with the constant presence of spectacular scenery make this a true fisherman’s paradise.
A growing number of craft centres showcase traditional woodcarvings, exquisite award winning pottery, wire sculptors and metal works of varying styles. Many establishments boast restaurants with world-class chefs, attracted by the surrounds and lifestyles with on site vegetable and herb gardens providing freshly grown local flavour. Health treatments and spa retreats allow rejuvenating encounters in surroundings designed by nature to replenish strength and fitness.
Recent developments in the area include the Umzimkhulu Gateway tourism information centre in the south, the Fodo Cultural Village and a lodge and conference centre at Ntsikeni, a priority wetland conservation area, home to the rare wattled crane. You will not find a conventional shopping mall in these magnificent mountains. There is a variety of unusual shopping destinations to choose from and take a piece of the mountain with you. A visitor can get anything from curio shops, a range of arts and crafts, organic herb farm, which specialises in culinary and offering a wide gift range watch the cheese making process and buy a delicious variety of homemade cheeses.
Well organised camping sites, full service resorts, peaceful mountain retreats and bed & breakfast lodges offering the personal touch are all found in abundance making the Drakensberg an exceptional destination for the adventure minded or the visitor looking for simple relaxation and warm hospitality.