Overview-Drakensberg Cycling

The spectacular uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa was awarded the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. It offers scenic beauty, great hiking and cycling, world renowned San (bushmen) rock art and a spiritual atmosphere. The mountains exceed an average altitude of 3000 metres, forming the highest range in Africa, south of Kilimanjaro

TypeSelf-drive bike and hike
LocationuKhahlamba Drakensberg, South Africa
Group size1+ people
Duration5 days (4 nights). Also other options.
Day StagesCycling <30 km and Hiking about 15 km
DistanceAbout 70 km
TerrainMountain trails
MealsDinner, breakfast and lunch or lunch packs
CostAvailable on request
DatesAll year round. Oct to April is “High season”


Trip details

Drakensberg Cycling is a 4 night biking and hiking experience in the Drakensberg wilderness, combined with the necessary comforts. You will stay in lodges in the Northern Drakensberg and experience unique trails and features of the scenic mountain environment.


The Drakensberg mountains

The Drakensberg Mountains, which rise to 3000 m and extend 180 km along the western edge of KwaZulu Natal is the highest mountain range in Africa, south of Kilimanjaro. The highest peak reaches an altitude of 3482 m. The mountains have the world’s second-highest waterfall, the Tugela Falls (Thukela Falls), which has a total drop of 947 metres. Magnificent views of towering sandstone cliffs, gigantic peaks, hidden valleys and crystal clear rivers welcome you.

Flora and fauna

The Drakensberg nature reserve is home to a huge variety of flora. This is due to the 1500 m rise from the base and the many plateaus, cliffs and valleys, often with their own habitat. A large portion of the park is grasslands and the lower parts are protea savannah. Six antelope species occur plus the hyrax (klipdassie) and baboons. It includes herds of Eland. There are also mongoose, jackals and otters. However, these animals are shy and not easy to view. There are 200 species of birds including the very special Bearded Vulture and the Black Eagle.

Nature reserve

243 000 hectare uKhahlamba Drakensberg nature reserve and World Heritage park.

Rock art

There are about 600 San rock art sites, together representing 35 000 individual images- one of the highest concentrations in Africa. The oldest rock painting is dating back to 4000 years ago and the recent going back to the nineteenth century.

Mountain biking trails

Exclusive cycling trails that is run and maintained by the local lodges and supported by an Adventure centre. Enjoy beautiful views and flora along the trails and you can expect to encounter some eland, blesbok and zebras

Extensive hiking trails

The Drakensberg is known as the hiking capital of South Africa. It offers many safe and secure mountain walks and hikes ranging from comfortable to the more strenuous. Some examples are the Cascades and the Tugela Gorge walk

Photography & other actvities

The area is incredibly scenic and provides the perfect environment for other activities such as bird-watching, horse riding, photography, painting, fishing, rock climbing and swimming in crystal clear rivers

Arrival Day
Arrive at the lodge after lunch

Short warm up ride from the lodge to an Adventure Centre to stretch the legs and ensure bikes are operating well. Any small niggles with the bikes can be ironed out.
Opportunity for a lap race of 5 km on a scenic double track. The ride can be followed by cappuccino’s and scones before taking a leisurely ride back to the accommodation venue
Enjoy Sundowners at the lodge, followed by a leisurely dinner.

Day 2
The route leaves the lodge on a 4×4 route which follows a gentle gradient into the Wanhoop Valley. The route descends into the river valley and follows the stream along the edge of a wetland that is home to an abundance of birdlife. This undisturbed valley is also a sanctuary for a number of species of antelope, including Mountain Reed Buck, Duiker and Eland. The climb out of the valley follows a reasonable gradient for a couple of kilometres and offers spectacular views of the Drakensberg foothills. The route turns off the 4×4 track on to the single track past the New Lone Tree, and then the fun begins in earnest. The route descends again on a series of sweeping switchbacks down to the Putterill’s stream where it crosses over on to Quad bike trails. These trails offer well maintained double tracks with a number of exciting features, including fast descents, switchback climbs and river crossings. All are manageable by intermediate riders. After exploring the valley on the quad tracks riders can pop in at the Adventure Centre for a coffee or something cold before heading back towards the lodge via the Forbidden Pass single track. The final section of the route is on mountain single track, and offers spectacular views of the Drakensberg’s Amphitheatre, and the river valley below.
Dinner and overnight at lodge

Distance: 26 km

Day 3
Riders leave the Lodge to the single track down Forbidden Pass. The route then follows a gentle gradient along the single track that meanders past the Pecan trees, climbing up the valley. The climb intensifies at the bottom for about 2 km, until it levels out on the beautiful Grotto Trail. This trail follows a flowing single track along the edge of Surprise Ridge, in the direction of the Adventure Centre. The trail know as “Downtime” is a highlight, featuring 8 km of flowing track and co-ordinated turns that brings riders down the ridge to the AdventureCentre. Enjoy a coffee or a cold drink before cycling to your vehicle. Drive to your lodge for the next two nights.
Check-in and afternoon of well deserved relaxation.
Dinner and overnight at lodge

Distance: 28 km

Day 4
A selection of hiking trails are available from strenuous to comfortable hikes, either from the lodge or a short distance from the lodge. Recommendations and directions will be provided for self-guided walking, based on distance and grading preferred. 

Distance: About 15 km

Day 5
Depart after breakfast and a short hike

Your accommodation bookings in the Drakensberg will be a 4 star lodge. Lunch packs can be arranged and restaurant facilities are available. No Cell phone and internet reception on some trails
IMG 16521
Montusi Mountain Lodge
IMG 3742
Montusi Garden Suite
the cavern panorama 1024x476
The Cavern panorama
main building at the cavern 1024x682
The Cavern

The rate will be quoted on request. It will be 4 star standard. The rate for single accommodation or shorter/longer periods, or more than two people, available on request. The Superior package offers superior 4 star rooms. The rate will be quoted on request, based on hotels/rooms selected. A minimum of 2 people per group.

4 nights accommodation
Route directions
Breakfast, dinner and lunch or lunch packs
Support: Briefing on arrival, point of contact (phone/whatsapp), back up vehicles for emergencies or break downs (1 call out per trip)
Drakensberg Trails Full Stay pass
Bike tweaks (adjustments up to 30 minutes, excludes parts)
Cappuccino and scones on Day 1
Cold drinks / coffee at Adventure Centre, Day 2 and 3
Guided hikes per daily programs of lodges
Facilities and activities at the lodges: Horse riding, fly fishing,etc
Information about the area
Not included
Items not mentioned above, eg :
All transport (To and from the Drakensberg and between hikes/attractions)
Snacks and drinks not mentioned above.
Resort extras – Shop, excursions, activities, laundry etc
Bicycle rental (26” full suspension rental bikes are available)
Bike repairs and parts
Medical evacuation and costs in the case of an emergency

Overall rating is “Moderate”. You do not need to be ultra-fit but certainly able to cycle between 36 to 55 km per day. The route takes you along well marked trails . See Cycling grades for more details about Easy and Moderate rating.

 Additional activities

In addition to hiking, the Drakensberg offers the following activities/opportunities:


Fishing, swimming, rock climbing, horse riding, boating and bird watching. Many of the larger resort hotels also offer a wide range of sporting facilities such as tennis, squash and golf.

Rock art

An excellent introduction to San rock art in the Cathedral Peak area is just past the entrance to the park, at the Rock Art Centre. A key thread in the museum is the eland, a vital aspect in San mythology and culture, with some life-size replicas in the entrance. The museum begins with an introduction to the culture and lifestyle of the San, with a look at archaeological finds, quotes from some of the last San descendants, and descriptions of the symbolic meaning of some of the most famous paintings.

Destinations to add to your trip

We recommend that you add some other attractions to compliment your visit to the Drakensberg. You can include other visits before or after the Drakensberg hiking holiday. We can assist with bookings and advice. The costs of these options are available on request.

When to book

Bookings can be made throughout the year. The autumn months of April and May have the most pleasant climate. Spring is also very appealing, because at that time the wild flowers are in full bloom. Despite the risk of snow, winter is the best season for cycling and hiking. The summer is a less popular season for hiking and cycling, although then the landscape is greener and the wildlife more abundant. The weather in the Drakensberg can be divided into two main seasons: summer and winter. Although the weather tends to be pleasant all year round, the altitude and the mountain climate shouldn’t be underestimated. Climatic conditions can change rapidly and snow, fog, rain and thunderstorms can develop within minutes, enveloping hikers on exposed hillsides. Winter (May to August) is the driest time of the year and also the coolest. There will always be some rain during the winter months which, when it’s cold enough, will occasionally fall as snow. Daytime temperatures can be as high as 15°C, while at night temperatures will often fall below 0°C. Summer (November to February) is the wettest time. The mornings tend to be warm and bright, but as the heat builds up clouds begin to collect in the afternoon. The violence of the thunderstorms when they break is quite spectacular, usually accompanied by short bursts of torrential rain. Daytime temperatures average around 20°C and the nights are generally mild with temperatures not falling much below 10°C.

The Drakensberg experience an average of 16 to 18 rain days in the months of December and January and the summer months November to March account for 70% of the annual rainfall, whilst May to August accounts for less than 10%

The elevation of the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal, where peaks exceed 3000 metres, results in moderate temperatures. Summer temperatures hardly ever rise over the 30 degree mark. During the rainy season in summer (December, January and February), daily thundershowers occur. At times it pours for days, sometimes a whole week. But there are always long sunny periods as well, even in the rainy season. In the winter months (from June to August) it is dry and pleasantly warm during the day. The thermometer climbs up to over 15 degrees but the nights can be really cold. Even in the moderately high regions, temperatures sink below zero. In higher regions it snows.

Getting there
The spectacular uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is located just two hours from Durban and four hours from Gauteng. Our Drakensberg hiking holiday is in the Northern Drakensberg.
For international visitors:
Fly to OR Tambo International Airport and from Johannesburg by car.

Route from Johannesburg:
Take the N3 South towards Durban, until Harrismith. From there take the N5 West towards Bethlehem for 4 km only. Turn left onto the R712 / R74 (Signposted towards Qwa-Qwa & Alternative Route to Durban) Travel for a further 8 km only. Turn left following the R74 towards Bergville, and down the Oliviershoek pass. After 38km, the road levels out. Turn right towards the Northern Drakensberg Resorts.

Directions from Durban:
Travel north on the N3 towards Johannesburg. After passing Estcourt Shell Ultra City, take the Ladysmith, Bergville and Northern ‘Berg Resorts Offramp (R74). Turn left towards Winterton and Bergville. Travel through Winterton and 30km past Bergville. There, turn left towards Northern Drakensberg Resorts.

When we confirm your booking more details will be given, as well as suggestions about places to visit along the way from Johannesburg.

What to take

Wearing a helmet while cycling is mandatory and bicycles need to be equipped with basic repair kit. These items can be provided with bicycles rented via us. Bring your own if you prefer so. If you decide to bring your own, a MTB is the best choice (not a road bike or hybrid). 

It is important to be comfortable when cycling. The best is to wear thin layers of clothing. Fast drying and hard-wearing synthetic fabrics are ideal as a base layer. These allow your skin to breathe and wick the moisture away from your skin to the next layer, avoiding the chill which cotton T-shirts can cause.  A thin fleece or sweatshirt is ideal as the next layer. Also take a lightweight waterproof jacket (breathable and windproof material is best). Sport shoes are fine for cycling and for when you stop off to visit places on foot. For your daily needs, you are advised to have a day-bag, a plastic bag to line your day-pack (to protect the contents from rain), sunglasses, sun block, a water bottle, plastic picnic box (for transporting lunches), first-aid kit, camera and an extra plastic bag for litter.


We recommend that you arrange appropriate holiday insurance giving you cover against illness, injury, and loss or damage to luggage. This insurance should also cover the possibility of your having to cancel your holiday for any reason.

Availability and Booking

To enquire or reserve a date, go to: Availability request

For general information: Contact us, or

email: info@trailsandtravel.co.za, or

Booking process and -conditions – Go to  How to book



Pictures of the Drakensberg can be viewed in Drakensberg Gallery


Comments by guests who have experienced a self-guided walking/cycling holiday offered by Trails and Travel in South Africa-

“Overall, the holiday was invigorating-  You certainly went out of your way to make the whole time memorable- We are recommending it to our walking community in the States- Fantastic walks, wines and accommodation”

For details, go to Reviews

More about the Drakensberg area

The Drakensberg Cycling holiday is a unique experience. For more information about the Drakensberg area, go to Read more

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