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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in South Africa

Explore the Central Drakensberg mountains from Three Tree Hill Lodge

Known as Dragons’ Mountain in Afrikaans, its fearsome peaks rise to over 11,400 feet and stretch for 700 miles…

By Cheryl Blackburn
Owner and guide, Three Tree Hill Lodge

The Drakensberg mountain range could be one of the most beautiful places in South Africa, if not the world. Known as Dragons’ Mountain in Afrikaans, its fearsome peaks rise to over 11,400 feet and stretch for 700 miles. Their epic evolution leaves in their wake a mile-high Amphitheatre, painterly valleys and titanic escarpments so sharp they appear to slice the sky.

From Three Tree Hill Lodge, the easiest and one of the prettiest parts of the range to explore is Champagne Valley, cradled by Champagne Castle, South Africa’s third tallest peak. This mountain was given its name by two adventurers hoping to celebrate their summit with a bottle of bubbly only for one of them to drop it on the way up. Bad luck though didn’t stop them from enjoying the striking vistas that today remain unblemished and picture-perfect.

You can decode the many trails with the help of a map. Armed with a picnic lunch and fired up with a school-kid sense of adventure, set off on varied paths that you can hike, bike or just amble along. They range from a 12-kilometre loop with rewarding views of Cathkin and Sterkhorn’s sky-scraping peaks to a more leisurely 2.5-kilometre hike to Sterkspruit Falls where you could, if you want to, brave a brisk dip in its mountain stream. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies can get their kicks on helicopter flips over literal breath-stealing scenery, or by white-water rafting down parts of the historic Tugela River rarely encountered by other people.

The scope and pastoral beauty on offer have allowed for niche activities to flourish such as falconry, a great one for families. During term time, Champagne Valley transforms into a stunning backdrop for mountaintop performances by the Drakensberg Boys Choir whose Ed Sheeran and Queen renditions are internationally recognised and totally worth staying out for on a school night.


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Alfred & Cheryl Blackburn

Being born in the Kruger National Park instilled in Cheryl a love of nature and wildlife. Having lived and worked as a guide in the Kruger reserve, and also in Botswana, she eventually got the opportunity to run her own lodge, with her growing family, in the lush KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg region. She still finds time to guide guests on foot, tracking white rhino in the neighbouring Spioenkop Game Reserve.

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Laura, who's travelled extensively in South Africa. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - ex banker who can show you the hottest foodie spots in Cape Town, the award-winning young sommelier who can introduce you to Stellenbosch's finest wines and the walking safari ranger who can guide you to the best game.

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