Some fine walks amongst superb scenery!
Take a guided holiday hiking in South Africa s Drakensberg Mountains and experience the incredible panoramic views that such amazing surroundings provide.
Special Selection Hotels
What does this mean?
Tour codes: 48000
Full day walks with appreciable amounts of ascent and descent.
These walks are in more remote areas such as Andorra or northern Portugal.
Similar to Grade 5, but with most of the walks at the upper level of ascent/descent, time and distance.
Consistently one of our more popular African tours, this South African walkers’ paradise makes clear why the world is so beautiful on foot.
The Drakensberg Mountains stretch for over 120 miles separating the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa and the mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho. From the northern basalt cliffs to the southern sandstone buttresses, the ‘uKahlamba’ or Barrier of Spears, offers some of Africa’s most spectacular walking. Recently awarded World Heritage Site status, its dramatic vistas are complemented by the sheer volume of flora and fauna, including over 300 species of birdlife.
Rising high above the veld, the Drakensberg, which translates as ‘Dragon Mountain,’ forms an imposing, dramatic and quintessentially South African scene which we explore on foot. We are based in the Central Drakensberg region and Royal Natal National Park on this twin centre trip, offering you the best of the very best.
Our first week is spent in Cathedral Peak Hotel in the Central Drakensberg region. Cathedral Peak nestles into the hillside and is one of our favourite hotels. It is a small ‘oasis’ surrounded by stunning scenery and walks can begin directly from the hotel, before heading into the surrounding peaks and hills to the Doreen Falls, Neptune Pools and Rainbow Gorge. At least 121 bird species reside here.
Our second week is spent in Cavern Berg Resort and the Royal Natal National Park region, here we walk amongst indigenous forests and incredibly dramatic scenery. Walks have evocative names such as ‘Camel’s Hump via Cannibal Cavern’ and ‘The Silent Woman via Jackal Ridge’. We spend time in Royal Natal National Park where the San Bushmen have lived for over 5000 years, we will observe their ancient rock paintings on our walks. This tour sets the bar very high!
On a couple of the days, the walks may be nearer a grade 7. However, there are alternative walks for those who do not wish to participate at this level.
THE DRAKENSBERG MOUNTAINS & ZULULAND SAFARI EXTENSION*
From 2021; for those looking to extend your stay, you can now enjoy The Drakensberg Mountains tour with a Zululand wildlife safari extension. After you have explored the best of Africa’s walking trails, you can also enjoy the wildlife that makes the continent so appealing and diverse. A perfect way to round off an incredible walking experience with the chance to see the Big Five animals – lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard.
Click the button below for a detailed Holiday Information Sheet containing all the particulars about this trip.
NOTE: Itineraries and Holiday Information Sheets can vary by a specific date chosen
Itinerary & Travel
Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised programme, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we may unfortunately need to withdraw a tour that is currently confirmed to operate and we therefore reserve the right to cancel your booking. We would always do our utmost to give you plenty of notice should we have to do this. Selected elements of this tour, including local attractions and restaurants, may change at late notice. Please ensure you have valid insurance cover before you travel.
Depart London Heathrow on the overnight British Airways flight to Johannesburg.
On arrival in Johannesburg, we travel by road to the Cathedral Peak Hotel in the Central Drakensberg region, where we shall spend our first week. The journey takes about 4.5 hrs.
From our accommodation, based in the Cathedral Peak National Park, we'll explore and walk in the beautiful Mlambonia river valley surrounded by the majestic Drakensberg Mountains.
Doreen Falls and the Bushman Paintings walk
Blue Pools walk
Today’s walk will be gentle enough to serve well as an introduction to this mountainous region, while allowing us to acclimatise. The route leads us up the Umhlonhlo Valley to Doreen Falls, there is a pool at the base of the falls which is ideal for swimming. We will also have the opportunity to discover some Bushman paintings on this walk.
In the afternoon we will walk to either Blue Pools, where our route follows the course of the Tsheketshe River toward the Nyosi Falls, and offers beautiful views, the opportunity to bathe in the cold mountain streams and perhaps the chance to see baboons. or we may walk to Lake William instead.
The views on this walk towards Cathedral Peak, Baboon Rock and over to Didima Rock Art Centre are spectacular. The route follows the course of the Endumeni River. Once in the Rainbow Gorge there is much of interest to see: indigenous forest, wild flowers, fungi and beautiful waterfalls. Our aim is to reach the Hanging Boulder! This walk offers the opportunity for some members of the group to return to the hotel without having to attempt the rougher terrain in the gorge if they wish.
On a clear day this walk is one of the highlights of the holiday as it affords spectacular views of the higher peaks and gives the sense of being alone in a vast landscape.
Today is a “free day”, you can take the day to relax and enjoy the hotels excellent range of facilities, or if you wish to walk and explore the park further, the hotel has a range of walks information available.
The first part of today’s walk takes us to Neptune's Pool in the Umlambonja Valley, access involves crossing a shallow river. The second part is to climb One Tree Hill. The first section of this walk will involve us crossing a shallow section of river and we walk downstream for 100m. Once you reach the base of Tree Hill, it is all uphill from here. From the top, and on a clear day you can see the Amphitheatre and Cathedral Peak.
This mostly uphill walk and rewards us with spectacular views, but we must work for it, tackling steep sections, precipitous edges and some rock scrambling. This walk is towards the top end of Grade 6.
Today we travel northwards to the Cavern Berg Resort and the Royal Natal National Park region. We plan to stop via Spioenkop to see the memorials dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Second Anglo Boer War. There is a memorial dedicated to British soldiers and one for the Boers.
We'll spend the next six days exploring the breath-taking Royal Natal National Park area. The Park acquired the Royal title after a visit to the now demolished National Park Hotel by the British Royal Family in 1947.
This is an interesting and busy walk, we encounter unusual tree formations, on the route to Cannibal Cave. The cave was formally occupied by Bushmen and more recently refugees from the Shaka Zulu wars. Our walk continues to Surprise Ridge, taking us along various slopes and inclines and finally the ridge; revealing stunning views of the Drakensberg range from Cathkin Peak to Amphitheatre. The final part of this walk involves a scramble up a small rocky gully to the summit of Camels Hump with further spectacular views of nearly all the Northern Drakensberg Peaks.
Without the extension
With the extension
This walk gives us the flexibility to do a shorter, leisurely option; which can be combined with a free afternoon. Or it can be extended by crossing a river below the Silent Woman which follows a well-trodden path which swings round anti-clockwise to Bishops Inkaba (a river crossing), and finally to Echo Cave.
Today we set our sights on Sugarloaf peak, you can see this distinctive rounded looming peak high up behind the hotel at 2,085m.The view from the peak is spellbinding, on a clear day we can see over the Little Berg, to the Great Escarpment, and all the way to the Amphitheatre.
Today is a “free day”, you can take the day to relax and enjoy the hotels excellent range of facilities, or if you wish to walk and explore the park further, the hotel has a range of walks information available.
The climb to Tugela Gorge is gradual, until the final mile in the gorge, where we are required to climb a chain ladder and do some boulder hopping. As this walk ends just before the chain ladder, those not wishing to boulder hop may wait in the shade and have their picnic here, whilst waiting for the remainder of the group to return.
The walk as far as Tugela Falls
The complete walk to Mont-aux-Sources
This is a real highlight of the trip! There are stunning views on this walk as well as beautiful flowers in the Spring/early Summer. For those not wishing or unable to go up the gully/ladders, there are options to return back to where our transfer bus will be waiting.
We return to Johannesburg for our overnight flight back to London.
Arrival in London.
Departure dates for your selected tour
13th Oct 2022 - 29th Oct 2022 (16 Nights)
Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday across all departure dates. Please refer to the Itinerary for more detail about each night's accommodation for each departure date.
The Cathedral Peak Hotel is a long-time favourite and one of the finest hotels in our portfolio. The hotel is situated inside the Cathedral Peak National Park, showcasing some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the Drakensberg. Rooms are equipped with either twin or king-sized beds, an en-suite bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities, television, fan, heater, telephone and a private veranda. There are plenty of facilities to keep you occupied when you are not walking including an outdoor swimming pool, indoor wellness facilities, a games room, various walking trails, a variety out outdoor sports, a gym and a golf course. Wifi access is available and is free to use.
A very close runner up has to be the Cavern Berg Resort, located in the foothills of the Northern Drakensberg, surrounded by towering mountains, forests and streams. The rooms are set in a lush garden landscape, and rooms are equipped with a hairdryer, tea, and coffee making facilities. They have a small spa area situated on the edge of the Fern Forest, an outdoor pool and various sports activities that can be organised at reception. Wifi access is available and is free to use.
This is a Grade 6 moderate holiday which includes full day walks with appreciable amounts of ascent and descent with walks in some remote areas. Paths are mostly good, but there may be some steep and rough ground. Walks will last up to 6 hours and could involve as much as 750m of ascent and descent. See the 'Proposed Itinerary' section for more information.
This holiday is grade 6 and entails some energetic days mainly on well-made paths to peaks, ridges, and sites of beauty and interest. There are a couple of walks in the programme at the top end of grade 6. The daily walking time rarely exceeds 6 hours. Some of the walks might involve scrambling over rocks and stream-crossings. The streams should be at a low enough level for you to walk through with the water at ankle height, but, after very heavy rain, we do not attempt the fording of streams and rivers. Waterproof sandals are useful for this holiday when crossing the streams, but not for the general walking programme.
The hotels in the Drakensberg are at about 1,500 metres above sea level. There are walks which form part of the programme, where we shall walk in valleys below the 2000 metres level; the rest of the walks are all between 2,000 and 2,500 metres with one possible walk to the ‘Amphitheatre’ (which most consider above the grade as it involves climbing metal ladders) taking you to above 3,000 metres. (This walk is sometimes offered on a free day.)
Local Transport Costs
All local transport costs in conjunction with the advertised activity programme are included in the holiday cost. There may be occasions where additional visits or excursions are added to enrich your experience, these will be paid for locally by you if you choose to participate. Local transport can be a mix of private hire coaches, taxis, local buses and ferries depending on the itinerary.
A range of local excursions and activities may be available to book at your destination through a local operator. We have no involvement in such activities or excursions which are not run, supervised or controlled in any way by us. Your contract will be with the local activity supplier and we accept no responsibility for their actions or omissions.
All organised excursions mentioned in the itinerary are included in the holiday cost.
There is very little additional cost to be paid locally in regards to the noted itinerary, however if you wish to take any optional excursions, or visit sites not mentioned, these will be at your own expense.It is difficult to estimate an allowance for spending money, however about £250-£300 for the trip should be sufficient for lunches, drinks, any optional excursions.
Please also see our section on tipping which will be in addition to this.
Hotel drinks, particularly imported spirits can be more expensive, but local spirits, beers, ciders and African wines are very good value for money. You will need to allow extra for souvenirs and gifts. Major purchases can often be charged to a credit card account.
Currency in South Africa
The currency used in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR).
Although entirely at your own discretion, tipping is an important aspect of tourism and hospitality life and expectations are fairly high. In order to simplify tipping, we strongly recommend that you allow your leader to take care of making sure tips are given to hotel and restaurant staff & to local guides and drivers. This will be done using some funds provided by us together with, if you wish, a contribution from you, which he/she will collect during the holiday.
Your tour leader makes the world of difference to your holiday and ours are as passionate about discovering the world on foot as you are. They're resourceful, organised and widely travelled. They will handle all the local administration and other needs that might arise to ensure that you don't have to worry about planning your days and you can enjoy your holiday. Although leading group holidays, they won't forget that every group is made up of individuals. Each tour leader has their own individual style, talents and professional backgrounds and all are trained, qualified, experienced and dedicated to making your holiday as enjoyable, interesting and inspiring as possible.
Leader's Evening Briefing
Each evening, your tour leader will discuss with you the programme for the following day. This will be your opportunity to discuss the details and ensure the planned activities suit your walking ability. If you have concerns on clothing or equipment, this can be discussed then also. If you do not wish to join the organised group programme, please let the leader know.
Flights are from London Heathrow to Johannesburg and return with British Airways.
The transfer from Johannesburg Airport to the hotel will take approximately 5.5 hours, with a 45 minute stop for lunch en route. Travel within South Africa is by road.
Booking Your Own Travel Arrangements?
If you wish to organise your own flights from a non-UK or provincial airport or travel by rail or car to your holiday destination, 'land only' reductions are often available. Please contact us for details.
Before finalising any independent travel arrangements, please check with us first - especially if doing so 12 weeks or more before your intended date of travel. If you do intend to join your holiday locally please do tell us at least 14 weeks in advance.
If you are joining and leaving your holiday overseas we assume, unless you advise us otherwise, that you will join and leave the holiday at your hotel.
Although airport transfers are not included for those making their own independent travel arrangements, if you wish to join the group at the overseas airport, depending on your flight arrival time, you may be able to be included on the group's transfer. Please contact us at least 5 weeks before departure for more details.
Please note that your flight must arrive within 30 minutes of the group flight to be able to join the group transfer. We also need your flight number, arrival time and departure point so that the group leader is able to meet up with you.
Luggage Allowance & Travel Documents
For all those booking a flight or rail inclusive holiday, details of your travel arrangements and baggage allowance will be confirmed in your travel documents, sent to you approximately 10 days prior to departure.
Personal Details Check
To ensure that we can accurately administer your holiday arrangements, please confirm that the personal details we hold for you are up to date and that you have provided the information we need to secure your holiday travel and accommodation arrangements. Please check your passport details, date of birth and any other important details necessary for us to properly manage your holiday booking. You can view and update information already provided, and add details not yet asked for, by using the Manage My Booking facility on our website www.ramblersholidays.co.uk, or by calling our Sales and Reservations team on +44 (0)1707 331133. When you receive your booking confirmation please check the details as soon as possible.
General Passport Advice
It is a good idea to carry photocopies of the personal details pages of your passport. Should you lose your passport, this may assist with the issue of replacement documents and your return to your home country.
Passport and visa requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply with, such requirements.
Passport Information for South Africa
For entry into South Africa, a passport is required and must be valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure. Your passport should have at least two blank pages when you present it at immigration to enter or leave South Africa. A visa is not required by holders of British passports bearing the inscription 'British Citizen' for holidays less than 90 days. Holders of non-British passports should check with the South African Embassy or their nearest consulate regarding requirements.
Breakfasts and dinners are included in the holiday charge. Most lunches are included. In the Cathedral Peak hotel, a buffet lunch is available between 12- 2pm. These can be enjoyed on days where we return to the hotel during the early afternoon or on a free day. On days where we will not return to the hotel during until mid-late afternoon, the hotel will arrange a packed picnic lunch. These must be ordered the previous evening. Three lunches are not included in the holiday cost, these are on the arrival day, transfer day and departure day. Allow approximately R130 (£6-7.00) for lunch. You will have the opportunity to purchase items for picnic lunches at local supermarkets but PLEASE NOTE that South African supermarkets do not always offer ‘ready made' sandwiches.
The hotel(s) listed within this document are examples of standard only. Whilst we strive to deliver the hotel(s) listed within this Holiday Information Sheet, there will be times throughout the year when they change. If this occurs, we will advise you as such. From time to time hotels will change near to departure and you will not be advised until after arriving into the destination. We always aim to provide a replacement of similar standard and location, although we cannot guarantee similar facilities such as pool or bar.
Lightweight waterproof walking boots with a good moulded sole (such as Vibram or similar) and a deep tread and which provide ankle support are strongly recommended and may be essential for some walks.
General Kit List
Outdoor activities are always safer and more enjoyable if you are prepared.
If you have not travelled with us before the following list might be of use:
This list is not exhaustive and every walker is different and may have their own preference.
Travel Documents Checklist
Documents and Information to take with you:
Electricity in South Africa
In South Africa the electricity is supplied at 220-240V A/C. If you wish to use electrical equipment you will need a three-pin plug with round pins. More information can be found at https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/
Water To Go
An alternative to bottled water from single-use sealed water bottles is filtered water from a refillable bottle containing its own water filter such as a Water-to-go bottle available from www.watertogo.eu. Just fill up from any water source and save the environment from disposable plastic bottles.
We have negotiated an exclusive 15% discount with our partners Water-to-Go for you as a thank you for helping the environment. Please go to their website at www.watertogo.eu and enter the code RWH17 when ordering. In addition, Water-to-Go will match the discount with a donation to our charity, Heart & Sole, which will allow us to continue to make a difference in the countries you visit on our holidays.
Maps, Guidebooks & More
You might find the following websites useful:
South African Tourism website: www.south-african-tourism.org
Tourism KwaZulu Natal website: www.tourism-kzn.org/tkzn
The Map Shop
If you cannot find the maps or books locally we recommend:
The Map Shop
5 High Street
Upton upon Severn, Worcs
If you key many of the local places mentioned in this holiday fact sheet into YouTube, you will find a vast array of spectacular footage of the area.
Health requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply with, such requirements at least 6 to 8 weeks before departure. Advice on vaccinations is available from your GP.
Health Advice for South Africa
No compulsory immunisations are required for visits to South Africa.
You should be up to date with the usual immunisations recommended in the UK.
Diphtheria and Hepatitis A immunisations are recommended.
You might also like to consider immunisation against Hepatitis B, Rabies, Tetanus, Cholera and Typhoid.
There is low to no risk of Malaria in South Africa, apart from the Kruger National Park where the risk is high.
There is a risk of schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection (also known as bilharzia) that is transmitted to humans through contact with fresh water. Please seek advice from your doctor or travel clinic.
Further Travel Advice
For further advice please visit:
You might wish to take a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel with you for times when you're unable to wash your hands.
It is a condition of booking with Ramblers Walking Holidays that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the trip, including all optional activities.
Your travel insurance policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation. Please ensure your policy covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are walking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover are not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Whoever you insure with, please ensure that you take full details, and ideally the policy itself, with you on holiday and provide our tour leader with your insurer's name, the policy number and emergency assistance contact numbers.
Please note that it is very difficult to obtain travel insurance once your holiday arrangements have started.
Looking for travel insurance cover?
If you have not already arranged cover, please visit SunWorld who offer travel insurance.
SunWorld policies include cover for COVID-19, subject to applicable terms and conditions.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office provides up to date information on security and local laws for travellers, together with current passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/travelaware. Please take a few minutes to look at the current advice on your planned destination.
Please be aware of what's going on around you, take sensible precautions with your credit cards and passport and avoid displays of wealth such as wearing expensive jewellery or watches. Do not carry more cash on you than you will need for each day, and we recommend that a money belt is used.
We're committed to ethical tourism in all our destinations. Our holidays are designed for you to discover the essence of the country you are visiting. Travelling in small groups not only gives you an up close and personal experience of your destination, but minimises your impact on the immediate environment. We feel that the most important starting point to protect the environment is to be out in it. For more details visit our website.
The Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust
Unlike many tour operators we have our own trust through which RWH Travel’s profits are channelled back into a variety of outdoor, walking-related or environmental conservation projects in the UK. The focus of the Trust’s financial support is Britain’s leading walking charity, The Ramblers, and their role in promoting the benefits and importance of walking to the British public. In addition the Trust welcomes applications for small grants from local organisations in the UK who need support for walking-orientated activities. This includes the establishment of footpaths and bridleways, funding for rebuilding bridges and renovating huts, as well as bursary funding for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for children who could not otherwise afford to do it. Please visit the ‘About Us’ section of our website and click on the Charitable Trust link for more details.
Heart and Sole
We appreciate that we are in a fortunate position to be able to use our profits to help make a difference to people's lives. Heart & Sole is a venture managed by our office staff, whose aim is to reach the heart of the communities in the countries we visit. Through Heart & Sole, we hope to make more of a long term, direct impact to these communities, particularly in less developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way. See our website for more information and details of some of the projects we support.
The Royal Drakensberg Primary School
On your free day on this holiday, it is possible to visit the Royal Drakensberg Primary School. Heart & Sole, supported by RWH Travel, is proud to sponsor the Royal Drakensberg Primary School, which is situated in the Northern Drakensberg, at the entrance to the Cavern Berg Resort.
The school was established by the owner of the Cavern Berg Resort in 2007 to enable children from poor families to attend school. The school currently has 48 children in grades 0-5, from different backgrounds and with different abilities. To find out more about this fantastic community school, visit the following website: www.royal-drakensberg.org.za
You can also find the Royal Drakensberg Primary School featured on the Pack for a Purpose website, an organisation that encourages travellers to use empty space in their luggage to take supplies to the communities they visit. A couple of children’s reading books, pencils or outgrown sweaters can make such a difference to a local community. If you would like to assist the school, please see the Cavern Berg Resort page on the Pack for a Purpose website for a list of much needed items www.packforapurpose.org/docs/countries/south-africa/the-cavern.shtml
For more information and to see the worthy causes that we are currently supporting, please see our Heart & Sole page on our website at: www.rwhtravel.com/heart-sole-2/
Please do provide us with a mobile phone contact number. We will only use this to contact you with important information relating to your holiday arrangements.
Do keep your mobile phones switched on and readily available when travelling to the airport or if delayed in transit so that we can contact you with any last minute information relating to your travel arrangements.
As a matter of courtesy, please switch off your mobile phone during walks, or endeavour to minimise its use. Please also try to minimise the use of mobile devices during group meals.
Visas and Passports
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