Overview-Drakensberg hiking

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, 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

The Drakensberg hiking program allows you to experience wilderness hiking combined with the necessary comforts. You will stay in lodges in the heart of the Drakensberg and venture out each day on various hikes. The program provides for the unique features and hikes in the area such as the Tugela Gorge, Tiger Falls, the Cascades, etc The standard program is 6 days and includes dinner and breakfast. The services of a guide can be arranged, if required.

The Drakensberg is arguably the best hiking area in South Africa.


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.

Extensive hiking trails

The Drakensberg is known as the hiking capital of South Africa. The Park offers many safe and secure mountain walks and hikes ranging from comfortable to the more strenuous. Some examples are the Cascades, the Tugela Gorge walk, the Tugela Falls walk, Dorian Falls Walk, Mike’s Pass and Rainbow Gorge, etc

Photography & other actvities

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

Follow our Route directions and drive through the Drakensberg area from base to base. From each base (Lodge or hotel) a selection of hiking trails will be recommended. During daily walks you will get a taste of real adventure. The program is flexible and can be structured for your specific needs.  We recommend that some of the hikes below be included. This 6 day program is focused on some of the hiking highlights of the Drakensberg nature reserve. It involves minimum driving. We ensure that each day is interesting and well balanced in terms of walking and leisure. The day sequence of the program may vary, depending on weather conditions. Different options will be available to allow you to amend your program, if necessary.

The holiday program can include the following hikes/visits:

Tugela Gorge hike offers views of Drakensberg Amphitheatre and Tugela falls
Tugela Gorge
The Cascades hiking trail in Northern Drakensberg
Rainbow Gorge is an easy hike in the Cathedral Peak area, Drakensberg
Rainbow Gorge
Montusi Peak hike is an easy walk from Montusi Lodge
Montusi Peak hike
Doreen Falls is an easy hike in the Cathedral Peak area
Doreen Falls
San painting in Montusi Cave, Drakensberg hike
Montusi Cave
Montusi Waterfall, Drakenberg hike
Montusi Waterfall
Hike to Tiger Falls in Royal Natal National Park
Tiger Falls

Your accommodation bookings in the Drakensberg will be a 4 star lodge or hotel. Lunch packs can be arranged and restaurant facilities are available. Most establishments will have cell phone and internet reception (not the hiking trails) View the facilities:

IMG 16521
Montusi Mountain Lodge
IMG 3742
Montusi Garden Suite
Cathedral Peak Hotel
Cathedral Peak Hotel
Waterfall hike Cathedral Peak area
Cathedral Peak area
the cavern panorama 1024x476
The Cavern panorama
main building at the cavern 1024x682
The Cavern
Champagne Castle Hotel
Champagne Castle Hotel
Champagne Castle area
Champagne Castle area

The rate for the Standard option is from R11 600 per person sharing, for 2 people. 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.

5 nights accommodation
Route directions
Breakfast, dinner and 2 lunches
Guided hikes per daily programs of some lodges
Facilities & activities at Drakensberg 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)
Lunch or lunch pack, snacks and drinks

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. The route takes you along well marked trails . See Walking 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, mountain biking, 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 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.

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

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.


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 Hiking Gallery


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

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