Things to do near
Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Golden Gate Highlands National Park (11.7 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
The Rhebok Hiking Trail covers 31 km of spectacular mountainous terrain in two days and is only suitable for fairly fit hikers. The circular route passes numerous streams, rock pools, ravines and waterfalls. Eland and black wildebeest can often be seen grazing on the grassy slopes.
The overnight hut is situated in an incredibly scenic spot next to a stream. Start early on both days and pack for changeable weather conditions – anticipate thunderstorms in summer or snow, sleet and mist in winter.
Duration: 2 days and 1 night
Distance: 31 km
Four By Four Trails
Clarens (16 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Bergwoning 4x4 Trails are found 15 km from Clarens close to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park Mountains. The one trail is a self-drive 6 km family-orientated scenic trail, while the other is a guided adventure trail of 26 km lead by the owner, Thys Martiz. The family trail takes about 2 hours and the adventure trail takes from 4 to 7 hours.
The trails are weather dependant and have rocky areas and river crossings. The trails are graded 3 to 5 and a 4x2 vehicle can be used – please enquire at establishment as to which vehicle type is required.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park (17.1 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Famous for its golden sandstone cliffs and abundant antelope and zebra herds, Golden Gate Highlands National Park nestles in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains.
The park is named for the glowing golden cliffs lit by the sun, particularly the imposing Brandwag rock. Wildlife you are most likely to see include black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra. If you're lucky you could spot the rare bearded vulture (lammergeyer) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Try to visit the Vulture Restaurant.
Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breath-taking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening. Other stunning lookouts are the Zuluhoek lookout point, Generaalskop viewpoint (third highest point in the park); Oribi Basin and Drakensberg view. Hikers can chose from various day trails (varying from 1 hour to 5 hours) or the awesome two-day Rhebok Hiking Trail (2 days and 1 night).
Up for an African cultural experience? Get to experience the Basotho way of living dating back to the 16th Century by tasting traditional cuisine and learn about the traditional equipment and weapons at the Basotho Cultural Village. The Herbal Trail introduces visitors to the medicines that were (and still are) used by the African Traditional Healers.
Galleries and Museums
Golden Gate Highlands National Park (19.3 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Visit a living museum with reconstructions of traditional homesteads from the 1700s to today. Resident guides show and tell how the Basotho ran their daily activities. Visitors can meet the local chief, sample traditional beer, join story-telling evenings, traditional games competitions and play a game of morabaraba. The village also offers an art gallery, photographic exhibition, arts and crafts shop and a restaurant.
Mountain Biking Trails
Clarens (25 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
It is said that Clarens is one of the most beautiful and terrain rich areas in South Africa for the Mountain biking enthusiast. There are guided tours that can be arranged for those who prefer or for those who seek the adventure of it there are plenty of trails and paths to follow, sometimes deep into the mountains where you encounter the true splendor and magnitude of the surrounding mountains of Clarens.
Clarens (25.2 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Set among majestic mountains, river, willow and lombardi poplar trees, Clarens Golf Estate ensure your round of golf will be a memorable one.
An 18-hole course, golfers will find the classic "risk and reward" design here.
Clarens (26 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Enjoy a craft brew as you relax and take on the sights and sounds of Clarens. Clarens Brewery brews fine hand crafted beers and cider in the beautiful village of Clarens in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains.
Royal Natal National Park (32.7 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Tick off the highest waterfall in Africa and the planet's second highest waterfall in the Drakensberg (Dragon's Mountains).
The Tugela Falls drops 947 meters down the rock-face of the Amphitheatre in three free-leaping falls. The source of the Tugela River is at Mont-Aux-Sources, several kilometres from where the falls cascade down.
Situated in the Royal Natal National Park, the falls are easily seen after heavy rains from the main road into the park. The best time for viewing is during the summer rainfall season.
Two superb hiking trails lead to the Tugela Falls. The most spectacular trail is a full day walk to the summit of Mount-Aux-Sources and to the top of the falls.
The other trail leads to the foot of the falls up the Tugela Gorge though indigenous forest. A climb up a small chain ladder takes you to a stunning view of the falls rushing down the Amphitheatre in a series of spectacular cascades.
KZN Wildlife +27 (0) 33 845 1999
Royal Natal National Park (35.6 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Royal Natal National Park easily features some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Africa. The star of the show is the famous Amphitheatre, a massive 500-metre high rock wall that stretches for five kilometres.
Standing like a sentinel above the Amphitheatre is Mont-aux-Sources peak. From here, Tugela Falls, the second highest waterfall in the world cascades down the face of the Amphitheatre on its journey to the Indian Ocean.
The park is a hiker’s paradise offering a network of hiking paths ranging from a gentle stroll to Fairy Glen and the challenging Crack and Mudslide. A detailed hiking guide is available at the visitor centre, Thendele Camp office and the main entrance gate.
Trout fishing is also a popular activity with options of the Mahai River, Thukela River or in a dam. There are some lovely spots for picnicking and swimming in sparkling mountain streams. Rugged Glen stables offer horse rides into the mountains with stunning views and sightings of mountain reedbuck and grey rhebuck.
Four By Four Trails
Butha-Buthe (40.7 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Maliba Lodge 4x4 Trail is situated in the Tsehlanyane National Park in Lesotho. It has a 2 to 3 difficulty grading and is suitable for 4x4 and 2x4 vehicles. The drives range from one to four hours. These are self-drive and all-year-round entrance trails.
Accommodation can be found at Maliba Mountain Lodge and Maliba River Lodge.
Four By Four Trails
Fouriesburg (43.1 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Didibeng Mountain Park has one main circular 4x4 trail which has many routes branching off towards viewpoints. The trails are located about 5 km from Fouriesburg. The main route is mostly a grade 2 and the routes branching off are more challenging with gradings of 3 to 5. The trails explore the Ventersberg Mountain Range. In total, the trails equal 34 km and it takes approximately 5 to 6 hours to complete. 4x2 vehicles are welcome with low range and high clearance. These are self-drive trails.
Clarens (45.7 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
The Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve is situated 23 km from Harrismith. It has several excellent trails for visitors to meander upon. The reserve is a favorite with bird lovers, holding over 200 bird species, such as mountain reedbuck, oribi, woodpecker, yellowwood and redwood.
The terrain varies from veld to forest to kloof. Wildlife is not prominent but there are several antelopes to be spotted. Every year in February the reserve hosts the annual Catamaran Championships on the 7,000 ha dam. Visitors can also enjoy water sports activities such as fishing and canoeing.
Harrismith (47.7 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
The vast expanse of water which is the Sterkfontein Dam lies a few kilometres from the edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment in the topmost reaches of the Vaal Dam catchment on the Nuwejaarspruit. The cool, fresh, deep waters are ideal for trout and other fish and it is a popular angling spot. It is the third largest dam in South Africa providing a perfect playground for sailing and other watersports. The surrounding landscape is scenically stunning - characterised by rugged mountains, lush ravines and rolling grasslands.In this beautiful setting is the Sterkfontein Dam Reserve covering 18 000 hectares. Perfect for long walks, hiking (there is a two-day hiking trail) and biking, it also offers excellent game viewing and bird watching. You can tick off oribi, reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, grey rhebuck, the bald ibis, the blue and whitebellied korhaan, the buffstreaked chat, the ground woodpecker and the sentinel. Gaze up to the sky and you could spot bearded and Cape vultures as well as Verreaux's (black) and martial eagles soaring. Secretary birds can also be spotted in treetops or stalking in the grasslands.The precipitous ravines are populated with yellowwood, wild peach, koko, silky bark, and black bark trees as well as bush guarri. Wild grape has twined into the tree tops where they form a dense leafy canopy. Fungi and lichen nestle against living and rotten tree trunks. Mountain slopes are adorned with wild myrtle, redwood, ouhout, hush guarri, highveld protea, silver sugarbush and the scarce tree fern.
Bethlehem (53.9 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Frontier Inn and Casino offers a one-stop entertainment destination themed around the lively frontier towns of the 1800s.
Casino gaming, an entertainment bar, a Spur family restaurant, a 3-star Metcourt hotel, an amusement centre, a professionally staffed childcare facility and a fast food outlet can all be found under one roof.
Bethlehem (56.7 km from Royal Natal National Park (World Heritage Site) and surrounds)
Parkland golf course. 18 holes, par 71.