I've left the best for last as far as Kwazulu Natal is concerned, so will be taking you on a trip down memory lane all the way to the majestic Drakensberg Mountain range, considered to be one of our country's most spectacular natural wonders and the highest mountain range in South Africa. This is truly a photographer's dream destination; although I only used my cell phone camera!
Northern and Central Drakensberg
We will travel to Alpine Heath in the northern Berg with truly breathtaking views and end our trip right in the heart of the central Berg in Champagne Valley.
I would have loved to have shown you the trout dams and the mountains around Castleburn in Underberg, southern Drakensberg; but those photos were lost on my laptop that was stolen!
I learnt the hard way that precious memories like that needs to be stored on the world wide web and never lost any photo since then!!!
Although my heart belongs to the ocean as I shared with you in my Favourite Kwazulu Natal Coastal Memories, and also pulls towards Paradise found in the Kwazulu Natal Interior, these mountains are a must-visit every so often; a place of pure serenity and beauty, God's paradise indeed! I always come away from a visit to the Berg, as it's affectionately called here by locals, recharged and ready to face the world again!
I would highly recommend the Berg to anyone who enjoys hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, photography, trout fishing, zip-lining, game viewing, birding, shopping for local handmade goods or simply enjoy the natural wonder of this area.
The Drakensberg was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 and has many nature reserves with an abundance of fauna and flora, is famous for its varied hiking trails to suit those
like me who simply enjoy ambling, to the adventurers and the super fit dare-devils!
With crystal clear streams high up in the mountains, one can drink ice cold water in its purest form straight from the source.
The Champagne Valley remains our favourite as this is right in the heart of the Berg with many attractions besides Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak Mountains.
Our favoured accommodation is the Champagne Sports Resort or the Champagne Valley, both featuring spacious thatched roof well-appointed chalets.
Wood is supplied for the fireplace during winter when it's lit as soon as the sun goes down as it can get really cold here; we have not been there during snowfalls yet!
A glass of wine and rummikub is our favoured entertainment after the usual Braai (BBQ) or a nice hot curry that only Durbanites know how to make!
This is home to the famous Drakensberg Boys Choir School where one can attend a concert at the school on most Wednesdays during school periods; quite an experience seeing where these boys are tutored with the stunning mountains as a backdrop!
They hold informal outdoor sessions with a short talk and time for questions and answers before going inside to the concert hall; really is a special experience if you are a music lover!
Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Centre
One of our favourite stops is this raptor centre high up in the mountains, where injured raptors are rehabilitated and where they hold Raptor shows, weather permitting; an absolute treat this is!
I'm always amazed at their acute hearing and vision as they glide really high up in the thermals, but when the falconer whistles, they come swooping down at an amazing speed to catch their prey.
There are many little home industries like cheese making, a farm bakery simply called The Bakery where it's literally a case of from the seed to the mouth. The wheat grown on the farm is processed right there into flour which is sold commercially at specialized stores; but the bakery makes gorgeous breads of all kind, my favourite of course being their most divine sour bread. Sweet pastries and bakes are to die for, and you will always find me walking away with some of their crispy crunchy Pecan Nut tartlets, sourdough bread of course, as well as their very good stoneground GMO free unbleached flour! They have a lovely little restaurant with the most divine meals and teatime treats; another definite stopover on our itinerary each time we're up that way.
We always stay at the Alpine Heath Resort as this also is on our holiday club portfolio as are the others I spoke of in the central berg. This was one of our best investments yet as we've been able to enjoy really splendid accommodation throughout the years!
Views from our chalet.
The Royal Natal National Park is nearby, offering some of the best mountain scenery like the Amphitheatre which is a rock wall about 5 kilometres long and approximately 500 metres high. The Mont-aux-Sources peak sits atop the amphitheatre where the Orange, the Tugela and the Vaal Rivers originate; with the Tugela cascading down to form the second highest waterfall in the world!
There are some very good camping sites in this park as well.
Our older son, the girlfriend who was taking the photo, and Mom came with us this time, as it's kind of halfway between Durban and Johannesburg where they live.
I do hope you enjoyed visiting this place of splendid beauty and serenity with me as we bid it a sad farewell, till next time!
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