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By Zinhle Mapumulo | Jul 21, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

FROM now on Mother Nature and I are official best friends and it is all thanks to the magnificent Drakensberg.

FROM now on Mother Nature and I are official best friends and it is all thanks to the magnificent Drakensberg.

I have not seen such pristine beauty and felt such tranquillity in all my life.

If I had to choose the perfect postcard, my finger would definitely point toizintaba zokhahlamba, as the Drakensberg is affectionately known.

I know that many people who know me are probably surprised by that. But it is true - yours truly is now a novice wilderness fanatic.

The Drakensberg is famous for its mountainous wonderland, but there is much more to explore in this gem. It has exquisite yellowwood forests and cascading waterfalls. It also has an abundance of accommodation to suit your style and needs.

But before you pack your bags you should know where exactly you are heading. The Drakensberg falls into four valleys, Champagne Castle in the Central Berg, Cathedral Peak and Didima Valley; Royal Natal National Park and Amphitheatre Valley; and the Middledale Pass Valley in the Northern Berg.

If you are into adrenalin rushes, I suggest you visit the Royal Natal National Park. Here the mountains, for a length of 5km, rise straight up to the sky. It is here that the brave can climb up a chain ladder and view the escarpment from the top. There are numerous walks and hikes, from easy and short to day-long treks.

If you love adventure, go to Cathedral Peak and Didima Valley, which friends and I recently visited. It took us more than four hours to drive there from Jo burg. At one point, we asked our charming driver, Siphiwe, if we were on the right track.

After driving for what seemed like ages, we finally saw the sign "Cathedral Peak" and we all chorused "yippee", knowing that we had arrived at Didima Camp near the famous Cathedral Peak Hotel.

The area has splendid scenery, with the Doreen Falls as an excellent example of a Drakensberg waterfall.

We arrived at Didima Camp just after 6pm and to my relief it was not a camp-site, but a beautiful modern bush lodge themed around the art of the San people.

As pitch black as it was, I managed to find my luxury chalet which resembled a cave. After a delicious dinner it was me and my bed.

I was up early and ready for mountain hiking. I thought it was going to be a short walk and I would lose some weight at the same time. Those who know me know that I was not made for walking. I failed to finish the 2,6km hike so could not view the rock art engraved by the San people over thousands of years.

After the torturous hike a scrumptious lunch was served. The Didima Camp kitchen and restaurant staff are just superb, which is more than I can say for the ladies at reception.

After lunch we relaxed a bit before heading for Mike's Pass at the top of a little berg near the head of Didima Gorge for sundowners.

My body was still in shock that night but I managed to sleep like a baby.

The next day, I was refreshed and ready to take on another mountain trail, but this time on a quad bike. On our way to the Cathedral Peak Hotel for horse riding and quad biking, we stopped at the San Art Interpretive Centre for an audio-visual presentation featuring a replica cave covered with mysterious San art.

I enjoyed the quad biking so much that I felt the 8km trail was too short. Next time give me 20km.

l The writero was a guest of KZN Wildlife.


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