Thu Oct 20 23:28:36 CAT 2016


By Simon Nare | Nov 03, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THERE are things that we as human beings take for granted. Simple things like fresh air, for instance.

THERE are things that we as human beings take for granted. Simple things like fresh air, for instance.

I felt that when I was on a mountain top of one of the peaks of the mighty Drakensberg range, near Didima Lodge close to Winterton.

It was pure clean air I breathed - compared with the polluted air in the City of Gold.

And on the road that enters the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site - meandering through the Magangangozi and Umhlazi villages - seeing the local residents getting on with their lives, like washing their clothes in the great Tugela, seemingly oblivious of the outside world, was a vivid experience as well.

I am told that the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage site provides 25percent of the country's water.

Didima Lodge features a range of luxury accommodation in stunning surroundings.

There are 62 luxury two-bed chalets, two four-bed cabins, a two-bed honeymoon suite and a six-bed bungalow. A modern conference centre doubles as a romantic wedding venue in this beautiful setting in the Cathedral Peak area.

Each of the two-bed chalets have an en-suite bathroom and sitting area. The chalets are built back to back with an inter-leading door that allows the two chalets to be converted into a four-bed family unit with self-catering facilities if required. All linen, towels and blankets are supplied and the chalets also provide satellite TV and cosy fireplaces.

The four-bed cabins and the six-bed cabin each have a bathroom en suite, a lounge-dining area and a kitchen space.

The park was declared a World Heritage Site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 2000 because of its outstanding natural and cultural value - in accordance with the convention "Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage".

It covers an area of 2482km square along South Africa's international border with the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

This is one of only two sites in Africa designated under both natural and cultural criteria.

The other site is Mali's Bandiagara escarpment in the "Land of the Dogons".

The park boasts soaring basalt buttresses, dramatic ravines and golden sandstone ramparts.

It also provides up to 500 tons of carbon storage a hectare. Environmental experts say that by storing large quantities of carbon in the soil the park contributes to the global effort at combating greenhouse gasses.

Rolling high-altitude grasslands, the pristine steep-sided river valleys and rocky gorges also contribute to the beauty of the site. And while standing on one of the peaks, I imagined that the creator of all this must have woken on the right side of bed when the Drakensberg came to be formed.

Apparently the park's diversity of habitat protects a high level of globally threatened species, especially birds and plants. This site also contains several caves and rock shelters - with the largest and most concentrated group of paintings in Africa south of the Sahara, created by the San people over a period of 4000 years.

The rock paintings are outstanding in quality and diversity in their depiction of animals and human beings.

The symbolic figures representing the spiritual life of the San, who are now all but extinct.

Activities include guided walks, trails and camping.

Scenic views of the landscape can be seen from mountain tops and rock art paintings are almost everywhere to be seen.

While in the park you are likely to spot several antelope species, particularly eland, reedbuck and duiker.

You will also be able to spot baboons and jackals roaming at will.

Other camps in the park are Kamberg, Lotheni, Giant's Castle, Injesuthi, Monk's Cowl, Royal Natal, Thendele and Rugged Glen.

As part of the preparations for the coming Fifa 2010 World Cup, park officials are in the process of overhauling most of the cabin facilities to three-star grading.

"We are also revamping our reservations system to provide real- time online bookings for the convenience of prospective customers towards the upcoming Fifa 2010 World Cup," spokesperson Simpiwe Mxakaza said.

"Our website will also be relaunched soon which will give our visitors more information on what will be happening towards and beyond 2010."

If you need a break from city life, this site will provide the perfect experience of nature unspoiled.


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