The area known as the uKhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site often referred to as the Berg in South
Africa, is dominated by a mountain range which runs approximately North to South for about 180 kms along the Park’s western boundary, it is 243,000 ha in size with some of the peaks reaching heights of up to 3,400m above sea level. The eastern side of the mountain range is a steep escarpment which rises above the valleys below by anything up to 1,400m over a very short distance. On the west side of the mountains the land, which is still quite mountainous, drops off more gradually towards the west through the neighbouring country, The Kingdom of Lesotho.
The Drakensberg Mountains play a huge role in supplying high quality water to the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The Drakensberg Mountains also support a diverse range of ecological niches resulting in a rich biodiversity and a high number of endemic species. In addition to this the Drakensberg also offers cultural and spiritual inspiration as well as recreational experience which includes ecotourism.
Besides being inscribed as a World Heritage Site (in the year 2000) for both ‘exceptional natural beauty and cultural importance’ (one of only 25 mixed sites in the world) it was also designated as a Ramsar Site (in the year 1997) as the Drakensberg is regarded as the most important water catchment in South Africa.
The Drakensberg Mountains with its many caves and rock shelters is home to thousands (between 25,000 and 40,000) of San Rock Art paintings. Infact it is the largest and most concentrated group of rock paintings in Africa south of the Sahara. They were painted by the San people over a period of 4,000 years. The Drakensberg Mountains are extremely beautiful, awe inspiring, rugged and most challenging to hikers and climbers alike. Nearly all of the area in the park’s boundaries are in a pristine condition and as such makes the park one of those places that contributes to that small percentage of the terrestrial surface of the planet that still has very low to no human impact.
Conservation in the area goes back a long way with the first parts of the Park being established as protected areas by the Natal Colonial Government in 1903 when Giant’s Castle area was proclaimed as a ‘Game Reserve on Crown Land’ Over the last century more and more sections of land were proclaimed to create today what wen now consider to be the uKhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site.