Hiking the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa was easily one of the best experiences I have ever had travelling. The views are quite simply stunning, at every corner there is something new to discover.
The Berg lies on the border of South Africa and Lesotho in the province of Kwazulu Natal. The whole area is surrounded by towering mountains and miles of sparse countryside. A great escape from the nearby cities of Johannesburg and Durban, with only the odd hiker or mischievous baboon for company.
If you pick a day with clear blue skies to hike up the mountains then it makes the whole experience a lot more impressive. The sun radiates of the peaks edges and exposes the ranges real beauty as you gradually reach the summit. Whilst the climb up is fairly challenging it is easily achieved by people of all ages and fitness, so don’t be put off if hiking isn’t your thing.
When at the top you get a great view over the surrounding Amphitheatre, which is largely regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces in the world. The Devils Tooth is a particular feature of the Amphitheatre that stands out and adds to the dramatic scenery you see before you. You are also able to see the impressive Cathedral Peak looming over the surrounding area, whilst on top of the mountain is Tugela Falls which crashes down over the cliff face. Tugela Falls is the second tallest waterfall in the world and during winter months is often left completely frozen. You could spend hours walking along the top of these mountains as you explore parts of the Royal Natal National Park, it certainly has enough features about it to make you want to lengthen your time up there.
It’s the descent down which is perhaps the most exhilarating part of the trip. The only way to get back down the mountains is to start your journey by going down two rather old and rusty ladders. The first ladder is about fifteen metres in length and the second is a bit bigger at around twenty five metres. With no rope support you are forced to brave the climb down by yourself, as you slowly make your way along the cliffs edge. Just make sure you don’t look down, it is not nice to see where you might end up if you fall.
If you start your hike early then you should make it back down in time to see the sun setting over the mountains, which is a great way to finish of an incredible day. The Drakensberg Mountains still remain fairly unheard of on the world stage, but for pure natural beauty and such dramatic landscapes it has to be up there with some of the best hikes on offer.