Drakensberg 3 Day hiking and scenic Tour 26 – 28 November 2014
I collected my client from their hotel at 7am, this was the same group that we with me on the previous Durban Safari Tour.
Our Drakensberg leg of our Tour would be very different to the game reserve safari tour.
We began at the Nelson Mandela Capture site near Howick and this was a great part of the tour to learn about the big man and the way he chose to lead his life post imprisonment.
Nelson Mandela capture site seen on our Durban Drakensberg and Midlands Tour
The actual capture site is across on the other side of the road where a plaque stands to commemorate this day in 1962 when Mandela finally was captured for trying to overthrow the South African Apartheid government.
My clients at the Mandela capture site plaque
The latest edition to the capture site is a architectural structure which I can only describe as amazing that from one angle only shows the face of Mandela! This means of course that you have to enter the Museum section and take a “long walk to freedom” as they call it in order to see this amazing structure. Well worth the 200 meter walk…
The new steel construction which shows Madibas face only at one angle
Nelson Mandela was also known as “Madiba” which was the name given to him by his clan/Tribe it is said that he was born of a Royal Chief of the AmaThembu people in the Eastern cape and his father relinquished this title due to a misunderstanding/dispute over stolen cattle…
After this amazing visit I decided to add in the Howick Falls and craft shops to the itinerary as we had the time and it wasn’t far away. Howick is a lovely quaint British colonial town in the Midland of our beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Howick falls near Mandela capture site
Howick falls is about a 96 meters drop and one of the higher waterfalls in South Africa but well behind Tugela falls at 947 meters.
Once we had enjoyed the view of the falls we moved up the streets into the town to look at the lovely shops and have some coffee. I made the mistake of buying Joey a Vuvuzela and him being interested in music drove his poor mother mad. I do apologize Betsy! Sorry.
At least Joey liked the Vuvuzela and Dave his father also gave it a blow.
At this point we headed for our destination the amazing Central Drakensberg – Cathedral Peak and Didima where we would be spending a couple of nights. The views were breath taking and the villages we passed through were so rural but amazingly happy. I always say people are happier with less and less is more!
Once we arrived and got settled at Didima we headed out on a hike to the lovely Doreen falls. We saw so much along the way including Protea flowers, Imphepo – a herb used to ward off evil spirits by burning it in your hut and breath taking scenery!
Protea flower in the Drakensberg on our first hike
Stuck between a Rock and a hard place seen on our Drakensberg Tour
When we got to Doreen falls itself if was flowing beautifully and because we are so high up you can drink they clean mountain water naturally filtered by the rocks. I got my clients to pose behind the falls as there is a lovely cave there that could have been used by the San Bushmen as shelter hundreds of years earlier.
Doreen Falls with my clients behind the falls during our Drakensberg Tour
As we made our way back down we came across a Reed buck male and female which were alarm calling once they spotted us. We stopped and gazed at them before the decided it was time to head off and leave us in their wake!
Reedbuck seen in the Drakensberg mountains on a hike
It was time to get back to Didima lodge for the night. We had a lovely dinner and had our day all planned for the next day with some hiking in the Northern Drakensberg – Royal Natal National Park.
Day 2: Drakensberg 3 Day hiking and scenic Tour
We awoke to the amazing clear Cathedral Peak visible from our rooms! What a lovely sight before some breakfast and an hour drive to the Northern Drakensberg!
View on the second morning from my room of Cathedral peak in the Drakensberg
When we arrived in Royal Natal National Park named after Queen Victoria’s visit in the 1940’s we began with a short hike up to some Bushman painting which are 800 years old. These are young in the greater scheme of things as we have bushman painting dating back as far as 28 000 years. These amazing 4 foot high people have been roaming these mountain peaks for the past 40 000 years until modern man arrived.
Bushman paintings that are 800 years old seen on a hike in the Northern Drakensberg
Myself showing some of these amazing Bushman paintings in the Drakensberg
The sites are protected and can only be seen with a guide. Over years people have defaced these amazing pictures and this is what has now caused the protection of the artwork. Thank you to David and his friends…
Before we descended the slopes I pointed out some fossils of a sea snail proving that at one time the Drakensberg was under water and it was an inland sea. Unbelievable as they are over 3000 meters above it now…
Fossils in the Drakensberg of sea shells seen on one of our hikes
We began the descent and the views were lovely, we still have a 3- 4 hour hike ahead of us so it was important to get down and begin the longer hike as the wind was picking up and the weather forecast was a storm later in the afternoon which we didn’t want to get caught in. Dave’s clever solution was to take the ponchos with us and this would ward off the rain, which it did!
Drakensberg day 2 view of the Northern Drakensberg Mont aux Sources
I quickly signed the hiking register and got ourselves started on the big hike up from Mahai to Tiger falls, Look out Rock, Gudu falls and Gudu forest before the descent to Mahai parking lot.
The view before we left was as follows:
View of the area we hiked on Day 2 in the Northern Drakensberg on our Tour
We enjoyed the views of “Sleeping Beauty” and all the wild flowers before arriving at Tiger falls. This is a very special area for me as I have walked this area from a small boy. Tiger falls didn’t seem to have much water but it was a great place to refuel on mountain water before making our way around to “Look out Rock”.
Tiger Falls in the Northern Drakensberg during our hiking tour from Durban
After look out rock I think we were all getting a little hungry as the pace picked up and Joey sped down the mountain like a gazelle! We tried to match him which only made us more tired when we got down to the bottom 3 hours after beginning this hike.
Proteas in flower with the Drakensberg behind seen on our Drakensberg Tour
At this point it was a matter of filling out the register to say we had returned safe and then we took the scenic drive to Hlalanathi where we would have lunch.
My chocolate coffee was welcome after all the mountain water I had drunk and so was the Burger.
It was already 3pm and we departed for Didima arriving near to 5pm.
It was time for some rest before dinner which was again lovely.(excepting my missing pastry!)
Finally the storm had caught up with us and the rain came at night.
Bed was calling our names and we go back to the fireplace around 8-9pm for some sleep.
Day 3: Drakensberg 3 Day hiking and scenic Tour
This day was a later start 7am meeting for breakfast after packing luggage into the vehicle. Breakfast as pretty good and then after we checked out we went down to the Rock art center Museum and interpretive center.
This Museum is amazing and has artifacts found on the San Bushmen dating way back. One of the most interesting finding is a full set of Bushman hunting equipment. A quiver, Arrows, poison pouch etc.
Bushman arrows and Quiver seen in a Muesem in the Drakensberg on our Tour
This was actually found by Mr J.S. Lombaard in 1926 in a cave in the Drakensberg mountains. He wrote a letter to request someone to purchase the items from him. It ended up in this museum we visited.
Letter from Mr Lombaard on the findings of the San Bushman Quiver and Arrows
One of the last remaining full blooded Bushmen on the eastern part of South Africa by the name Qing also described some of the culture to the western communities which was jotted down in booked and made public. The museum contains snippets of the things he said as well as a very powerful video which explains to you more about the bushmen and there ways.
Quotes from Qing a San Bushman who was interviewed on his people
After this powerful experience we exited and took our final picture of my clients with a life size statue of an Eland the largest antelope in Africa and can weigh as much as 1000 Kgs.
My clients and a statue of an Eland antilope at Didima during our Drakensberg Tour
This ended the second part of our Tour, 3 days in the amazing Drakensberg Mountains.
The Drakensberg meaning – Dragons Peak or in Zulu UKhahlamba – Barrier of Spears, these are name to describe this incredible place of peace and beauty!