Overview-Drakensberg Giants Castle Hiking

Drakensberg Giants Castle Hiking is a 4 day lodge- to- lodge luxury hiking experience in the Drakensberg foothills. The hiking trail includes some of the most scenic and bio diverse parts of the Drakensberg. The program offers comfortable and varied lodge accommodation each night, luggage transfers and mouthwatering catering. The Drakensberg is arguably the best hiking area in South Africa. If you prefer a self-guided trip, go to Drakensberg Hiking.

TypeGuided hiking tour-meals incl.
LocationGiants Castle, Drakensberg, South Africa
Group sizemin 2 – max 6
Duration4 days (3 nights)
GradingEasy/Moderate
Day Stages12 – 15 km per day
DistanceAbout 40 km
TerrainMountain trails, tracks
AccommodationLodges
MealsDinner, breakfast & lunchpacks incl.
CostFrom R7 900 per person
DatesWhole year

Trip details

  • Highlights
  • Itinerary
  • Accommodation
  • Rates & incl
  • Travel info
  • More info

Drakensberg Giants Castle Hiking trail provides access to private land, a game reserve and locally forged conservancies- special places where people normally would not have access. Drakensberg Giants Castle Hiking trail offers safe and secure mountain walks and hikes

The Drakensberg mountains

The Drakensberg mountains,  is the highest mountain range in Africa, south of Kilimanjaro. The highest peak reaches an altitude of 3482 m. 

Lying at the southern end of the central Drakensberg Giant's Castle, which gets its name from the outline of the peaks and escarpment that combine to resemble the profile of a sleeping giant, is essentially a grassy plateau that nestles among the deep valleys of this part of the Drakensberg.

Giants Castle offers visitors to the region hiking opportunities with panoramic views as well as the tranquillity of natural surroundings.

Flora and fauna

The Lowlands Conservancy is well known for its rich biodiversity.  You will hike through Zulu Waters  Game Reserve-the only private game reserve in the Drakensberg with wildlife such as rhino, zebras, buffalo, ostriches, eland, water buck and wildebeest. 

Photography & other actvities

The area is incredibly scenic and provides the perfect environment for other activities such as biking, bird-watching, horse riding, photography and painting.

Giants Castle Nature Reserve

Nearby Giants Castle Nature Reserve has an impressively rich floral diversity, rolling grasslands, crags and cliffs. Giants Castle Game Reserve is considered the home of the eland as well as the bearded vulture. Other than the now over 600 recovered eland, the reserve is home to mountain reedbuck, blesbok and oribi, and a huge variety of birds.

Another Giants Castle highlight is the superb bushman rock art at main caves which is easy to get to and well presented. The world renowned Giant’s Castle Main Caves Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of the vanished San people (or Bushmen) who lived in these valleys historically and left such a priceless legacy of rich rock art.

Drakensberg Giants Castle Hiking is a 3 night luxury trail through the foothills of the Giants Castle Valley and Zulu Waters Private Game Reserve. Accommodation is in lodges, your luggage is transported and it is fully catered.

Day 1: Arrive at Antbear Lodge- normal check-in time. Antbear Lodge is about sustainability. Here you will even find homemade cheese from their own milk. Dinner and overnight

Day 2:  Hiking starts  heading up to the top of the mountain with spectacular views looking out over the Drakensberg Mountains towards Giants Castle. Overnight at Leopard's Lair. Leopards Lair is full of family atmosphere offering a real agri-tourism experience.

Day 3: Your walk from Leopards Lair starts off easy and then drops back down into the Mbogta Valley after which you enter the Zulu Waters Game Reserve. Shaka Lodge offers the lapse of luxury including your own private chef.

Day 4:  Almost your whole day will be hiking inside the reserve where you might see rhino, buffalo and so much more.

End of tour

Average daily walking distance: 12-15km

Other activities

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

Giants Castle vulture hide for close and personal wildlife encounters.
Star gazing hammock camp telling African folk stories of the night skies.
Hot air Balloon flights. 
Abseiling down some daunting cliff faces.
Horse trails through Zulu Waters Private Game Reserve or beginner horse rides at Antbear Lodge.
Game drives in Zulu Waters

Bespoke tours can also be arranged for organised groups with special interests like butterflies, birding, ecology, wild flowers, mediation and star gazing.

 

Your accommodation bookings will be in 3 lodges where you will have dinner and breakfast. Lunch packs will be provided for daily hikes. View the facilities:

Drakensberg Giant's Castle Hiking
Antbear Lodge
Drakensberg Giant's Castle Hiking
Leopard's Lair Lodge
Drakensberg Giant's Castle Hiking
Zulu Waters Game Reserve
Drakensberg Giant's Castle Hiking
Drakensberg Giant's Castle Hiking

 

Sustainable tourism

The trail partners aim to promote experiences that are authentic and sustainable.
They participate in programs that are beneficial to the environment and try to limit their own footprint as much as possible.
Natural heritage is conserved with programs that protect and restore our nature.
Cultural heritage is protected and cultural traditions are respected.
All products adhere to a policy of fair working conditions that are nondiscriminatory.
Communities are given access to the tourism market to improve their living conditions.

Rates

From R7 900 per person sharing- 50% deposit to secure the booking and 50% payable one month before the trip

Included
3 nights accommodation
3 days hiking
Dinner and breakfast. Lunch packs are supplied for daily hikes
Registered mountain guide
Luggage transfer
Conservancy fees
Information about the area
 
Not included
Items not mentioned above, eg :
Transport to and from the Drakensberg Giants Castle Hiking trail 
Snacks and drinks
 
Grading

Overall rating is "Easy/Moderate". You do not need to be ultra-fit but certainly able to walk between 12 and 20 km per day.  See Walking grades for more details about Easy and Moderate rating.

 Additional activities

See "Itinerary" for addon activities such as the Giants Castle vulture hide, etc

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 Giants Castle 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 hiking. The summer is a less popular season for hiking, 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.

Climate
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 starting point of Drakensberg Giants Castle Hiking is situated in the Giant's Castle area, about a five-hour drive from Johannesburg via the N3 and about two-and-a-half hours from Durban.
 
For international visitors:
 
Fly to King Shaka International Airport, Durban or OR Tambo International Airport and then by car.
 

Directions from Durban:

Travel along the N3. Take the off ramp 152 between Estcourt and Mooi River. Travel in the direction of Hidcote. After 7 km you will encounter a T-junction. Turn right towards Giants Castle. After 14 km turn right towards Moor Park onto a dirt road. The Lodge is on the right signposted Antbear Guest House 5.5 km down the dirt road. Drive up the farm road for 2 km

Route from Johannesburg:

Exit N3 at 2nd Estcourt  turn off (175) signposted Wembezi. Turn right and cross over the N3. After 500 meters turn left onto a dirt road signposted Zulu Waters / Moor Park. Travel for approx 8 km. At the Y-junction take the left fork signposted Zulu Waters / Moor Park. Continue on this road for 15km. The Lodge is on the left signposted Antbear Guest House 5 km after you cross the metal bridge. Drive up the farm road for 2 km

What to take

Comfortable, well aerated clothes in keeping with the season. Always bring a thick waterproof windbreaker/jacket, good walking boots/shoes (already worn-in) and several pairs of cotton or wool socks. 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), rainwear, a sun-hat, sunglasses, sun block, a water bottle, plastic picnic boxes, personal first-aid kit, camera, torch/flashlight and an extra plastic bag for litter,hiking stick, insect repellant.

If you are planning to hike up to the summit plateau the clothing you carry with you should protect you from the weather you are likely to encounter over 3000 m. An anorak made from waterproof breathable fabrics like Goretex will be useful all year round, while in winter layers of thermal underwear, fleece, a woolly hat and gloves should prepare you for sub-zero temperatures.

Insurance

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

Map

Gallery

Pictures of Drakensberg Giants Castle Hiking can be viewed in Drakensberg Giant's Castle Gallery

Reviews

Comments by guests who have experienced a self-guided walking/hiking 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 Giants Castle hiking holiday is a unique experience. For more information about the Drakensberg area, go to Read more

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