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Region: KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Physical Address: Alpine Heath Resort, Off Cavernberg Road, Northern Drakensberg, 3354
The Drakensberg mountains of South Africa or uKhahlamba (the Barrier of Spears) is a 200-kilometre-long mountainous wonderland and world heritage site, and is the country’s highest and most impressive mountain range rising to over 3 000 meters. The largest proportion of the South African component of this area falls in the kingdom of KwaZulu-Natal. The inscription in late 2000 of uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park as a World Heritage Site brought long-overdue recognition of its universal value to mankind. Meeting the criteria for both Natural and Cultural listings, the site can now officially boast ‘superlative natural phenomena and beauty, unique richness of biological diversity, the conservation of all-important endemic and threatened species plus masterpieces of human creative genius in the form of 35 000 ‘San rock art images’. From the massive basalt cliffs of its northern reaches to the soaring sandstone buttresses in the south, the Berg – as it’s popularly known – offers a myriad delights to anyone of any age who needs to ‘get away from it all’. Peace and quiet is the catchphrase amid this unsurpassed grandeur where the world’s second highest waterfall, the Tugela Falls, tumbles down a series of breathtaking cascades. Most of the Drakensberg makes up the Natal Drakensberg Park, a wilderness area with an abundance of wildlife. Hikers are frequently surprised by bushbuck, oribi, mountain reedbuck, tiny duiker, and the largest of South Africa’s antelope species, the eland, as well as many others. Enormous lammergeier, or bearded vultures, fly overhead and baboons bark from the cliffs. The spring is heralded by carpets of wild flowers and the pink and orange watsonia bloom thickly on the hillsides. In autumn the fields and lower reaches of the Drakensberg are often a waist-high sea of confetti-like pink, white and deep velvet red cosmos blossoms. In the higher reaches on the slopes of the Little Berg, varieties of protea trees show their prehistoric flowers, and ancient tree ferns and the odd cycad dot the gullies.