Drakensberg Mountain Range

The Drakensberg mountain range looms over the nearby KwaZulu-Natal coast, casting a light shadow over the emerald valleys and separating the region from the Free State province. At 3,482 metres in height, the Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in South Africa, stretching its mountainous form approximately 1, 000km from south-west to north-east.

African rail tour travellers will catch their first glimpse of the majestic Drakensberg as they near the Champagne Sports Resort which lies on the cosy foothills of the mountain range. Geologically, the imposing range resembles the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia; natural caves are frequently spotted in the eroded sandstone, with many housing authentic Bushmen rock paintings. Contributing to the popularity of the mountainous destination, the Drakensberg is believed to house between 35 000 and 40 00 works of Bushmen art. This is the largest and most concentrated collection of rock paintings south of the Sahara.

The Drakensberg range is home to myriad different environments; from aquatic forest and scrubland to endemic fynbos, savannah and mountain grassland. While those embarking on the luxury train journey won’t be able to experience the varied mountainous vegetation in all its glory, they will be interested to know that the range is home to numerous health plant families, including a vast number of species listed in the Red Data Book of threatened plants.

The Northern and Central Drakensberg region features some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa. The area falls into four steep valleys, beginning with Champagne Valley in the Central Berg, Cathedral Peak and Didima Valley, the Royal Natal National Park and Amphitheatre Valley, and finally the Middledale Pass Valley in the Northern Berg. Each valley exudes a unique beauty and character emphasised by exquisite mountain views.
The Amphitheatre and raging Tugela Falls are perhaps the most famous tourist attractions dotting the Drakensberg region. The eminent Amphitheatre is a section of the Drakensberg which takes a dramatic leap upwards, reaching straight towards the heavens at over 3,000 feet. The Tugela Falls form the second highest waterfall in the world, cascading down five steep drops in a splendid fashion.