The Drakensberg (Dragon Mountains) are not only the highest mountain range in South Africa but in all of southern Africa. At its tallest, they reach 3482 meters.
It’s a hiker’s paradise with sandstone cliffs and pinnacles. Nearly 98% of its plant species are endemic or almost endemic.
The Drakensberg is simply stunning and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever hiked!
No wonder it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! You can read more about my epic day in the Drakensberg that featured both monkeys AND mountains!
The Hike to Orange Peel Gap
It’s a 5 hour+ walk that will get you sweating. Fortunately, it poses no technical difficulties until the last few steps near the top. Your reward is a fantastic view over the Drakensberg:
Hiking to Orange Peel Gap requires a guide. You can arrange one through Didima Chalets who arranged our guide, Wiseman. He lived in a nearby Zulu Village which we had visited the day before. I wanted to hate him for barely breaking a sweat while I was soaking wet, but he was so patient as I unsuccessfully tried to master a sentence in the Zulu language. That’s in spite of the fact that he thought my husband had gotten a bad deal by marrying me since he does the laundry!
My favourite views weren’t looking outwards, but rather upwards, towards the famed Cathedral Peak. It’s a very strenuous, 10-hour hike. I’m saving it for my next visit:
Where Else to Hike in the Drakensberg
I’ve done a lot of hiking, but the Drakensberg is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever explored. In addition to hiking to Orange Peel Gap, I also rambled in the Drakensberg Amphitheatre and Giants Castle. It’s one of the richest rock painting sites in the world and in the Drakensberg Amphitheatre.
Not only did I LOVE hiking in the Drakensberg, but I also enjoyed the warm welcome I received when I wearily returned to Didima Chalets. A troop of baboons greeted me including this adorable baby baboon! No, they didn’t hand out a cold beer, but they did cure my weariness. Despite being tired, I snapped over 300 photos of baboons. They’re one of the best cures to sore muscles I’ve found.
Know Before You Go Hiking in the Drakensberg:
- Be sure to check out AccommodDirect for a great choice of accommodation in the Drakensberg.
- The best time to go hiking in the Drakensberg according to our guides is in April and May. That’s fall in South Africa. Temperatures are cooler then, but not too cool. It’s not likely to be overrun with tourists, except on Easter weekend.
- The Drakensberg receives snow in winter (June – August). Hiking is still possible, but see what the weather conditions before you go so that you bring the appropriate clothing. Check out my Day Hiking Gear Guide for tips.
- There are many hikes (including Orange Peel Gap and Cathedral Peak) that you can only walk with a guide for safety reasons. Didima Chalets can arrange for a guide. You can also ask them to put you in touch with Wiseman, who works as a private guide. He has a cell phone but no website.
- Wiseman (our guide) said his #1 recommended hike in the Drakensberg is Mushroom Rock. It’s known for its scenery, caves and you have a good chance of seeing wildlife like baboons and elan. No lions or elephants, so don’t worry!
- Contact the South African Tourism Site for more info on hiking in the Drakensberg.
Disclosure: I was a guest of South African Tourism, but all opinions expressed as always remain my own.[map address=”Drakensberg” type=”roadmap” map_style=”default” overlay_color=”” infobox=”default” infobox_background_color=”” infobox_text_color=”” infobox_content=”” icon=”” width=”100%” height=”300px” zoom=”14″ scrollwheel=”yes” scale=”yes” zoom_pancontrol=”yes” animation=”yes” popup=”yes” class=”” id=””][/map]