Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal

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"Drakensberg" is an Afrikaans word that means “Dragons Mountain” when directly translated into English. The Drakensberg mountains are astonishingly beautiful and also very popular. They are the highest mountains in South Africa. They extend up at Thabana Ntlenyana and stand 3,482 meters. In different cultures, the Drakensberg have numerous names, for example, in Sesotho they are known as Mulati or Maloti, and in Zulu it is called aKhahlamba which means “barrier of spears”. The mountains can be found in the eastern area of South Africa and they run, in length, approximately 1000 kilometers from southwest in the direction of the northeast.

To the west of the Drakensberg Mountains you will find the Vaal River and the Orange River. These two are the largest rivers surrounding the mountain, while to the east as well as the south, a number of small rivers can be found, the largest of these being the Tugela River. This range is what separates the Province of KwaZulu Natal from the Free-State Province.

Although Thabana Ntlenyana is the highest peak of the Drakensberg, there are others that are just below it, these include;

• Mafadi which stands at 3,482 meters
• Makoaneg which stands at 3,416 meters
• Njesuthi which stands at 3,408 meters
Champagne Castle which stands at 3,377 meters
• Giant’s Castle which stands at 3,315 meters and then;
• Ben Macdhui which is the smallest peak, standing at 3,001 meters

All of these peaks are located in the regions neighboring Lesotho, but when it goes as far as to the north of Lesotho it becomes slightly lower and also more dangerous for mountain climbers and hikers because the mountain tends to be broken at some parts, visibly and invisibly, which makes it very risky, especially when it nears the areas of Mpumalanga.

The Drakensberg are a major tourist attraction and there are many resorts and hotels located on the slopes of the mountain, while many of the South African areas have been turned into wilderness regions or game reserves. The one feature of Drakensberg that is most popular amongst tourists is the Drakensberg National Park, or maybe better known as the uKhahlamba, which is situated in the KwaZulu Natal province, close to the border alongside Lesotho. The reason for it being well-known is the fact that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) listed it as a World Heritage site in 2000.

It is said that bushman were the first people to live in the region of the Drakensberg. They lived there harming no one; all they wanted was to provide for themselves and their survival but all that changed when the white settlers moved into play.

During April 1993, it was discovered that some of the Drakensberg Mountain, namely some light sandstone and a bit of brown basalt could be seen through shuttle discovery. This is a major accomplishment and tribute to the mountain as not many earthly things can be seen through shuttle discovery!
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