Winterton & the Central Drakensberg

    Mrs Magda Hearn (Contact Person)
    036 488 1207 (Telephone)
    036 488 1846 (Fax) (Email)

Postal Address

PO Box 203

In 1905 three years after the Anglo-Boer War - the colonial government constructed a weir across the Little Thukela River and founded an irrigation settlement here called Springfield renamed Winterton in 1910. Winterton is situated in beautiful foothills and main access point to the Central Drakensberg, this typical pioneer settlement offers a very relaxed atmosphere. It serves the large community of maize, wheat and beef farmers.

Accommodation and tourist facilities aplenty await at the Mdedelelo Wilderness Area, named after 'he who cannot be overcome' - the imposing, sheer-faced and flat-topped block known in English as Cathkin Peak. The Zulu name is not entirely accurate, but ascending Cathkin Peak does demand well-honed rock-climbing skills.

Adjacent to Cathkin Peak in the Central Drakensberg on its northern side is Mount Memory and a large cross honouring those who died in the Second World War. Between Cathkin Peak and the escarpment, Monk's Cowl presents one of the most difficult climbs in all the Berg.

This area also includes the notorious Ship's Prow pass, its southern fork (3 300m) the highest summit of all Berg passes and northern fork listed as 'severe - not recommended'. Several smaller free-standing peaks beckon would-be adventurers with less-daunting challenges the easiest climbs being Eastman's Peak, the Litter and Intunja, a Zulu name describing the hole large enough for a herd-boy to climb through. Several herd-boys could, in fact, pass through this 'eye of a needle'!

Champagne Castle (3 248m) is attached to the main escarpment and can be ascended by walking from the summit plateau. Champagne Valley, meanwhile, is home to the internationally-renowned Drakensberg Boys Choir, whose three decades of mountain-top public performances have reached legendary status.

Most of the caves within the Mdedelelo Wilderness Area are rather inaccessible or overexposed to weather extremes, but KZN Wildlife's campsite at Monk's Cowl is conveniently situated and privately-run establishments are in great abundance. Giant's Castle was originally proclaimed a protected area in 1904 and the peak that gave the region its name is one of the most conspicuous and recognisable of all within the World Heritage Site. The Giant, as it is popularly known, can be conquered by walking and scrambling up Giant's Castle Pass or taking one of several rock-climbing routes to the summit. Mafadi (3 446m) and the Injasuti Dome (3 379m) are the two highest points in South Africa, while Makheka, at 3 461 metres, is the second highest point in all of southern Africa. These free- standing peaks all demand above-average climbing skills.

Also prominent within Giant's Castle are three long, unbroken rock walls, Red Wall, Trojan Wall and Long Wall, plus the passes that were dynamited during the 19th century to prevent San Bushmen from launching cattle raids against white settlers in the valleys below.

Most Giant's Castle caves contain San art (and thus may not be used for overnight shelter) , but the highlight is undoubtedly the Main Caves' Museum, where audio-visual and standing displays depict the 'home life' of these tragic nomads. This sector is probably also the best for game and bird watching, and along with the protected rock paintings, many of the World Heritage Site's threatened treasures are found here. These include rare birds of prey whose eating habits can be studied at the Vulture's Restaurant while trout streams provide visitors with the opportunity of catching their own free lunch!

Numerous well-maintained hiking routes traverse the valleys of Giant's Castle, and KZN Wildlife operates accommodation facilities in each of the three main areas - chalets and cabins at Injasuti in the north, and campsites at Hillside in the east plus the Main Camp to the south.

The Central Drakensberg is renowned for its family and sport related resorts and a range of adventure and eco-tourist pursuits. Many of these such as the newly introduced 'Drakensberg Canopy Tours' are particularly special experiences which you will never forget.

Other areas in Winterton & the Central Drakensberg

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