DURBAN TO DRAKENSBERG: DISCOVER A MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN ESCAPE
Breathtaking landscapes, rich heritage, and outdoor exploration await travelers in this naturally beautiful and culturally vibrant South African destination
Durban may be best known for its stunning coastline, but unexpected terrain, wildlife, and cultural experiences await just 110 miles northwest in the majestic mountains of Drakensberg. A two and a half hour drive from Durban, the Drakensberg Mountains region is renowned for its cultural and geographic significance. Divided into roughly five regions with many small towns in the foothills, the 124-mile-long Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been preserved since the ancient San people populated the area in the Stone Age. After soaking in the sun in Durban, travelers can enjoy Drakensberg’s dramatic hiking trails, wondrous wildlife, and cultural sites including:
Archaeological evidence including rock art in the Drakensberg mountains suggests that the Durban area has been inhabited by communities of hunter-gatherers known as the San or Bushmen since 100,000 B.C. Using natural materials such as clay, burnt wood, and ochre oxides, San artists painted scenes of hunting, dancing, fighting, food gathering, and rituals to portray their daily life. Guided walks are available to explore some of the 30,000-plus individually painted rock art images across 600 sites, showcasing the cultural legacy of ancient African rock art and history of the region.
Sani Pass, the highest pass in South Africa and third highest in the world, follows the course of the Mkomazana River from southern Drakensberg up to the border of Lesotho. Guided 4×4 tours are available to get to the top, known as the “Roof of Africa,” for breathtaking views. Those crossing the Lesotho border can visit the highest elevation pub on the continent at Sani Mountain Lodge.
Located in northern Drakensberg, the Amphitheatre is one of the region’s most photographed features due to its sheer size and dramatic cliff face. It is here visitors will discover Tugela Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the world with water that cascades 3,110 feet down the famed rock wall. Hikers can trek to the base of the falls or make their way to the top of the Amphitheatre for spectacular views of the South African landscape.
One of the world’s most famous choir schools, the Drakensberg Boys Choir School, is based in the central Drakensberg area. Visitors can attend one of their public performances every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. during school terms. Now in its 51st year, the choir won first place in the Scenic Pop category of the 2018 World Choir Games, the world’s largest competition for non-professional choirs. Located next to Drakensberg Boys Choir School, Dragon’s Restaurant and Pub offers a country ambiance and stunning scenic views. Coinciding with the weekly choir performances, the restaurant offers specials each Wednesday and is acclaimed for its beef curry bunny chow.
Travelers interested in discovering more of the top active and cultural activities in Durban and Drakensberg can visit visitdurbantravel.com. Goway offers three-day travel extensions to Drakensberg starting at U.S. $545 per person. More information is available here. High resolution images are available here.
Located an hour southeast of Johannesburg by air, Durban is the beachfront gem of KwaZulu-Natal Province (KZN). A bustling harbor city and popular surfing spot, Durban lies on the Indian Ocean and is South Africa’s third largest urban area. Remnants of British colonialism and a mix of Zulu, Indian, and Afrikaans traditions give the city a rich cultural heritage, while outdoor activities abound on the signature “Golden Mile” beachfront and in the lush rolling hills that encompass Durban’s suburbs. For more information, visit