Imagine waking up to the sight of majestic peaks, lush valleys, and crystal-clear streams, all in one of the most diverse and scenic regions of South Africa: “Dragon Mountain.”
The Drakensberg Mountain stretches for over 1,000 km in the Kwazulu Natal province, along the east coast of South Africa. It boasts a wide variety of flora and fauna, but its cultural significance dates back thousands of years and has made it a popular destination for visitors from all around the world.
This article will explore what you can expect on a five-day road trip through this amazing mountain range. We’ll cover our recommended itinerary for each day, some places where you can stay during your journey, as well as some additional suggestions.
Day 1: Durban to Underberg
On your first day, you’ll fly into Durban International Airport and then rent a car in Durban if you don’t have your own transport already. The drive should take about 2.5 hours (200 km), and if done early enough, you’ll have time to stop off at some attractions along the way, such as Howick Falls, Midmar Dam, and the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. The final stop on this day is Underberg, which has some fantastic lodging options, including Sani Valley Lodge and Umzimkulu River Lodge. Renting a car in Durban when you land at the airport gives you the freedom to explore, giving you more flexibility, convenience, and comfort throughout your road trip.
Day 2: Underberg to Sani Pass
Sani Pass, renowned for its breathtaking views, difficult terrain, and border crossing into Lesotho, the landlocked nation in southern Africa, is a must-see on any trip to the Drakensberg Mountains. If driving from Underberg, it should take 1.5 hours (50 km). There are many activities available here, such as hiking, bird watching, or visiting Basotho villages, so make sure not to miss out on them! Here, great lodging options include Sani Mountain Lodge and Mkomazana Mountain Cottages.
Day 3: Sani Pass to Cathedral Peak
Heading back south towards Cathedral Peak will take about 3 hours. You could also stop off at the Himeville Museum, Cobham Nature Reserve, or Giant’s Castle Game Reserve before arriving at your destination, which is considered one of the most iconic landmarks of the Drakensberg due to its distinctive shape, height (3004 m), and accessibility with numerous trails that cater to any level of hiker from beginner to advanced.
Day 4: Cathedral Peak
At Cathedral Peak, spend some time enjoying activities like horse riding or golfing before following one of the numerous hiking trails there, ranging from the Doreen Falls Trail to the Bell Traverse—quite a challenge, however very rewarding, with majestic views opening up after reaching higher ground. Keep an eye out for any wildlife, such as eland, antelope, baboons, or bearded vultures, in the area. Didima Camp or Cathedral Peaks Hotel are two great options for lodging in this area.
Day 5: Cathedral Peak to Durban
Planning long-distance travel by car requires preparation, particularly when traveling through remote areas. Make sure to check the weather forecast, road conditions, safety precautions, and fuel availability, which is especially important. You’ll also need to consider things like the best times for various activities planned beforehand. It helps to have a handy list of suggested routes and attractions. Finally, make sure you have a valid driver’s license and insurance, too.
Exploring the Drakensberg Mountains on a road trip offers the opportunity to witness the beauty and essence of nature just a few steps away. Explore Durban and surrounds by picking up your rental car at Durban International Airport.
SANI Car Rental is a South African homegrown car rental company. Vehicles available to rent include compact cars, economy cars, premium cars, people carriers, and SUVs. SANI Car Rental serves customers throughout South Africa, including at all major local and international airports.