Most people visit the Drakensberg Mountains because of the spectacular hiking and incredible bushman rock art. But here is another way of getting up close to the mountains in the company of an experienced local guide.
Situated near to Giants Castle is the award-winning guide Thando Shabalala who take you on a journey to discover the amaHlubi people. The Hlubi (or amaHlubi) are a separate South African ethnic group. For at least two centuries they have been a part of the Nguni, Mbo or Lala nation. They are found in the foothills of the Drakensberg near to Giants Castle. They also have readily traceable descendents in the modern-day Kingdom of Swaziland and the Matabeleland Region of The Republic of Zimbabwe. Very little has been documented about this nation but there is a lot of oral literature regarding the history of the amaHlubi nation. The amaHlubi originated further North and migrated southwards with the other Nguni groups of the time. To day thay have taken on many of the Zulu traditions but still maintain their own unique mountain culture. Sample some their traditional foods, watch a ceremony and traditional dances, and of course, have your bones thrown and your future told by the resident sangoma.
If you’re not super hiking fit, take a short walk with Thando in the Giant’s Castle area of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. But if you’ve the time and the legs for it, then choose a long hike. Maybe you just want to see some of the world’s best and most famous rock art? Or visit the Vulture restaurant where you’ll see the rare Bearded vulture breaking and scoffing bones? You’ll enjoy Thambo’s colourful and knowledgeable background information as you breathe the legendary champagne air and marvel at the views.
If you’re interested in things spiritual, then he’ll take you to the Shembe Church – a unique mixture of Old Testament Christianity and Zulu Traditional Religion. You may have seen the Shembe annual pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountain and the almost surreal traditional dance of white-robed devotees on National Geographic TV.