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The alluring Drakensberg Mountain range

Hiking and bicycling are popular activities for tourists in African
Hiking and bicycling are popular activities for tourists in African
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

The Drakensberg Mountain range, also referred to as the Dragon's Mountain, is the highest mountain range in South Africa, reaching a height of 11,000 feet. Geologically, the range is similar to the Simien Mountain range of Ethiopia. Those who visit Drakensberg will enjoy exquisite and enthralling scenery that will never be forgotten.

An Area Rich in History

The entire region ranks as one of the most valuable archaeological sites on the African continent. Archaeological discoveries indicate that the Drakensberg region may have been occupied by human inhabitants for over one million years, as the first evidence of mankind was traced back to the Middle Stone Age.

The foothills were settled by Iron Age farmers in the early 13th century. These settlers brought sheep and cattle to the region for the first time, and by the late 17th century, African cattle herders occupied a considerable portion of central Drakensberg region. 1816 marked the rise of the Zulu militia who declared war by attacking tribes who were already living in the mountain range. After the settlers were banished from their land, they referred to the mountain as "the Barrier of Spears."

In the mid 1800s, European settlers arrived in Drakensberg, many of whom turned to hunting and farming as their primary means of survival, which created conflict with most natives. Bitter battles ensued between the established tribes and the new Natal colonial authorities. By 1871, the last of the Lesotho tribes were driven from the Drakensberg community.

Throughout the 20th century, the area remained a scenic, rural location that became more and more popular with tourists as time progressed. However, throughout the years, towns and cities were founded, as well, such as Newcastle, Ladysmith, and Dundee. Drakensberg accommodation facilities can be found in such towns for those who wish to stay in an urban area while on vacation.

Scenic Hiking Excursions

The celebrated Drakensburg mountain range begins in Africa's southeastern tip, stretching over 600 miles from the southwest to the northeast. The mountains drain to the Vaal and Orange rivers in the southeast by way of many smaller rivers, which are included in most of the guided tours offered in Drakensburg. While there is a broad range of tourist attractions in the area, most individuals visit the region because of the mountains.

Each part of the Drakensberg mountain range has its own unique characteristics; however, there are several spots that come highly recommended for first time visitors. These include Sentinel peak, located at the top of the escarpment, and the world renowned Tugela Falls, which cascade into the Royal Natal National Park below. Many guest cottages and bed and breakfasts offer Drakensberg accommodations for those who enjoy a quaint atmosphere while visiting the area.

Additional Attractions

The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School is a prestigious learning institution nestled in Winterton–a quiet town in the heart of the Drakensberg mountain range. Founded in 1967, the school features a 600 seat auditorium in which weekly performances are given.

The Bushman Caves are a unique tourist attraction that feature authentic paintings by the Bushmen. The Drakensberg caves have some 40,000 works of art, making them the largest collection of such works on earth.

With so much to offer regarding attractions and activities, a trip to Drakensberg, South Africa is a worthwhile pursuit that will result in one-of-a-kind memories that will last forever. The right Drakensberg accommodation can be found to suit every budget and lifestyle, and those who choose this area for a vacation will be very pleased with their decision.