Itinerary: 10 Days in Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa
When traveling to South Africa, most visitors head straight for Cape Town and travel along the Garden Route of the southern coast. This trip is spectacular and should be a highlight on any traveler’s list. However, as a frequent visitor to South Africa and having seen many parts of this incredible country, it is the Drakensberg Mountains that fill my top spot for must-see places in South Africa.
Drakensberg means “Dragon Mountains” in English. The area is made up of four valleys: Champagne, Didima, Amphitheatre, and Middledale Pass. Each holds magnificent scenery and wildlife. This area is paradise for hikers, bird watchers, wildlife enthusiasts, sports people, fishermen, and nature lovers. Majestic mountains ranges, waterfalls, and tranquil lakes provide a back-drop for both active and relaxing vacations.
Days 1-5: Champagne Valley
- Observe wild zebras and antelope as you eat breakfast on your patio
- Trek to spectacular waterfalls
- Take a horse ride in the Champagne Valley
- Discover ancient paintings in the Bushmen caves
- Visit a local bee farm and taste delicious local honey
- Spend a day hiking to the top of Sterkhorn for breathtaking views
- Have a traditional South African “braai” under the stars
Days 5-7: Spioenkop and The Battlefields
- Take a tour of the Spioenkop hill-top battlefield (Boer War)
- View the incredible bird life
- Rent mountain bikes and head out on an adventure trail
Days 8-10: Nambiti Game Reserve
- See the Big Five in their natural habitat
- Enjoy two game drives each day in an open, guided vehicle
- Visit the best cheetah conservation project in the world
- Experience traditional Zulu dancing
- Dine under the African sky in a traditional “Boma”
There are numerous airlines that fly into Johannesburg. From Johannesburg, you will need to catch a domestic flight to Durban or Pietermaritzburg. These flights are operated by South African Airways, Kulula, and Mango and can be booked separately online or as part of your international ticket. Once you land in Durban or Pietermaritzburg, rent a car for the drive to the Drakensberg. It takes approximately two and half hours from Durban and just under two hours from Pietermaritzburg. If you choose not to drive as soon as you land, there are lots of great hotels in the Ballito and Umhlanga areas that are very close to the airport and on the beach.
Kathleen is a contributing editor to En Route Traveler. From a young age, Her parents took her and her sister on many adventures all over the world. Kathleen has lived in South Africa, London, and Paris. After five years of being a stressed corporate lawyer, she gave it all up to move to Nicaragua where she trained as a yoga teacher, learned to surf, and worked at the eco-lodge, Buena Vista Surf Club. Kathleen loves fitness, vegetarian cooking, contributing to the wellness blog, Hip and Healthy, and managing her own sites Yum Yoga and Super Fit and Super Food.
Have you ever visited Drakenseberg? Share your recommendations below in the comments area.