South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland
GPS: -29.465231505504, 29.266584401541
Look no further for a travel guide to visiting the Drakensberg in South Africa. Composed of nearly thirty summits, Drakensberg is a spectacular mountain range located in a cross-border region between South Africa and the landlocked kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland. It has several major peaks part of the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment including the highest South African mountains in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. This crown of rugged ridges formed in the space of twenty million years. The Drakensberg protected natural area is provided with large altitude wetlands serving as habitat for a wide variety of flora, fauna and birds.
The Drakensberg escarpment is nicknamed “Dragons Mountain” by the Afrikaners (mostly Dutch-born settlers) and “Barrier of spears” by the Zulu people. With its steep buttresses, its cut peaks, its narrow collars, its rocky territory and its deep grassy valleys, this immense basalt barrier extends over more than a thousand km long. In the 19th century, it served as a place for several battles between the British forces, the Boers (white pioneers of South Africa) and the Kingdom of Zulu. At its peak in pre-colonial Africa, the Zulu kingdom spans much of Southern Africa in the Natal region (renamed KwaZulu-Natal). It was renowned for his powerful impi army formed a few decades earlier by the great king Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation. Despite a distinguished victory at the Battle of Isandhlwana in 1879, the Zulus lost the war and were finally annexed by the United Kingdom in 1897.
Drakensberg is full of grandiose landscapes and unknown archaeological remains. It has one of the largest concentrations of parietal art on Earth. Inherited from the San people, this underground heritage contains nearly 700 caves embellished with thousands of cave paintings (the oldest of which are dated 4,000 years) as well as stone engravings and sculptures. It is also in the Drakensberg mountain range that the third largest gorge in the world is found (the Blyde River Canyon nicknamed the largest green canyon) and the second largest waterfall on the planet (the Tugela Falls throwing from the majestic cliff of the Amphitheatre at 948 meters in height). The Thabana Ntlenyana (3,482 meters) and Makheka (3,461 meters) mountains, on the Lesotho side, constitute the most eminent peaks in all of Southern Africa. To top it off, the Drakensberg escarpment contains major palaeontological sites including the oldest fossilized dinosaur eggs in the world.