The history of the Drakensberg

Posted by Anita Froneman on 2 April 2020

South Africa is home to many famous landmarks and immense biodiversity. The Drakensberg mountain range in KwaZulu-Natal is one of the country’s most beautiful and sought-after regions, where many hikers, mountain bikers and campers go to seek reprieve from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

In Dutch ‘Drakensberg’ means ‘dragon mountain’, and in Zulu, it’s called uKhahlamba meaning ‘the barrier of spears’.

One of South Africa’s eight World Heritage Sites, the Drakensberg National Park covers 250,000 hectares and at its highest peak, it towers 3,482m tall.

Home to the elusive snow protea, among other fauna and flora, these mountains are a haven for nature lovers.

In the year 2000, it was declared a World Heritage Site. Its history, however, is not that widely known.

Experts estimate that the area has been inhabited since the Middle Stone Age, as multiple artefacts and San rock art have been documented.

Later rock paintings depict ox-wagons and men with rifles and cattle that are estimated to date back about 800 years. The largest collection of these paintings is in the Ndedema Gorge, which has around 4,000 paintings alone.

The San people were later driven out to Lesotho by European settlers as conflict arose over land and cattle.

The mountain range is the source of the Orange River and is the main water shed of South Africa. Giant’s Castle, part of the Drakensberg Experience Route, was one of the first conservation areas on the continent.

Source: Siyabona Africa

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