The Drakensberg mountain ranges in South Africa are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for exceptional natural beauty and for good reason. These mountains offer breathtaking views and stunning scenery worth taking a detour to hike and explore.
My friend Jon invited me a few weeks ago to come on a road trip throughout South Africa starting with some hiking in the Drakensberg. After 6 years in Zambia I’d been through Joburg airport a few times but had never actually been inside the country so took him up on the offer.
The road trip from Johannesburg to Clarens where we first stayed took a few hours driving on long straight roads. At the moment it is winter so there isn’t too much water around and the landscape is quite dry and barren. It reminded me so much of outback Australia with the wide open spaces, blue skies, gumtrees scattered around and windmills.
Driving through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park we started to see some impressive rock forms. I also saw a few ostriches and antelopes but didn’t get a chance to photograph them as they were too far away.
One of the hikes that we were recommended was a 6 hour hike up sentinel peak to the top of the Ampitheatre in central Drakensberg via the chain ladders. It took you to the top of Tugela Falls which is the tallest waterfall in Africa and the second tallest waterfall in the world. I was attracted by the fact that you had to climb a couple of big metal ladders to reach the top of the escarpment.
Our hike took us about five hours of hiking with a lunch break once we reached the waterfall. Being the dry season there was literally a dribble going over the falls but the view from the top was absolutely magnificent. You can totally understand why this place is considered a UNESCO place of outstanding beauty.
I love climbing mountains to escape the business of life, think, ponder and just marvel at our beautiful world.
I’ve never hiked in such windy conditions before either. It was literally howling and I nearly got blown off various cliffs a good few times. Thankfully I lived to tell the tale with the only injuries being a bit of dirt in the eyes and getting back absolutely filthy after being blasted by dust. It was totally worth it for the views though.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit this area I’d definitely recommend exploring and doing some hikes as it is breath taking.