Best time to visit drakensberg

15.02.2020
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Trips & Tours to Drakensberg Mountains 2020/2021 | On The Go Tours

Stretching out for miles in every direction, the grassy slopes of the Drakensberg mountains are without a shadow of a doubt some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the whole of South Africa. They form the border between South Africa and the tiny nation of Lesotho and are divided in to a number of different regions, all with their own towns and facilities. Each area also has its own characteristics that make it both beautiful and unique, all of which should be explored in depth in order to make the most of a trip to 'the Berg'.

As the highest mountain range in the country, its summits offer spectacular, panoramic views of the entire mountain range, which spans over 1,000km. The highest peak reaches almost 3,500m and is certainly a worthy challenge for hiking enthusiasts. Other activities within the range include more leisurely options such as fishing in the various rivers that flow through the valleys and riding through the range in a 4x4. Kayaking is a also popular choice, as are hot air balloon rides, each giving a different perspective of the region. For thrill-seekers, white-water rafting is also available.

Nature lovers also shouldn't miss the chance to dine in the region's famous vulture 'restaurant' . This diner is situated in specific locations in order to offer guests views not only of the birds of prey after which the restaurant is named, but also of the majestic mountainous scenery that surrounds it. There are also a number of waterfalls and streams that visitors to the area can take a dip in after a day of hiking in the sun and birdwatching.


best time to visit drakensberg
Routes - Southern Drakensberg Tourism Guide
Tourism Routes

ROUTE T1 – R617


The T1 or better know as the R617 is the main artery supplying the Southern Drakensberg from the next big cities Pietermaritzburg in the East and Kokstad in the West, representing the gateway to the Eastern cape. It is a very scenic route and you are likely to arrive in our lovely district on it. Take it easy when it is misty and you might find the odd cow or goat crossing the road. Once you reach the district you find some of our members’ turnoffs right off the road. (Show establishments along the route)

ROUTE U – UNDERBERG


The two villages Underberg and Himville are the main centres of the Southern Drakensberg with Underberg being the main hub. Nestled below Hlogoma Mountain with beautiful vistas of the main Drakensberg it sets the mood for your holiday.
Underberg offers all amenities within walking distance: You find shops for everyday necessities as well as gifts, souvenirs and sporting products. If necessary you can fill up, clean and maintain your motor vehicle. Several restaurants will tantalize your tastebuds and also offer all day coffeshop atmosphere. (Show establishments in Underberg)

ROUTE T2 – COLEFORD


A nice scenic route giving partially tarred access to some of our members with amazing positions along the Umzimkhulu river. Look out for nice picnic spots along the way! (Show establishments along the route)

ROUTE T3 – NOTTINGHAM RD


This at times harsh gravel road for the more adventurous is a short cut to and from the N3 northwards. Best mastered with high clearance vehicles it is definitely worthwhile if you like stunning scenery. It gives access to some of the most remote and beautiful Nature reserves Lotheni, Vergelegen, Highmoor and Kamberg. A favorite destination for Fly-Fisherman looking for that elusive trout. (Show establishments along the route)

ROUTE H – HIMEVILLE


The two villages Underberg and Himville are the main centres of the Southern Drakensberg with Himeville being the smaller and quieter village. It hosts the KwaSani Municipality offices as well as the court and police station. Our most famous Himeville museum hosted in the old sand stone fort is a must for visitors. Many of our well established members offer you fine cuisine and accommodation in and around the village. (Show establishments in Himeville)

ROUTE T4 – COBHAM


The road to Cobham leads to one of the most well known entries into the Maloti Drakensberg Nature Conservation area. Giants Cup or Hodgsons peaks as it is also known towers above in the background and many will remember fondly past hiking and camping holidays at this pristine area. Swimming or fishing in the Polela is a great idea and so is coming out here for a day walk if you do not want to spend the night in the wilderness. (Show establishments along the route)

ROUTE T5 – SANI PASS


A route full of adventure, the initially tarred road, leads you beyond the Sani Pass Hotel now on an increasingly more rugged gravel surface to the South African border Post. Here you will have to check out with your passport (no exceptions and visa regulation might require you to organize such for entry into Lesotho) before you engage all wheel drive (4X4 is compulsory!) to make it up the famous Pass, the only access Road to Lesotho in KwaZulu Natal. Take your time and enjoy the scenery! You might consider saving your own equipment and your passengers mental health by using one of our capable and knowledgeable Tour Operators to take you on the trip. There are very nice accommodation options on this route as well as on top of the mountain in Lesotho at about 3000m altitude. (Show establishments along the route)

ROUTE T6 – PEVENSEY


There are some scenic roads to explore by car and maybe bicycle on this route. Also you can take this road to get back to Pietermaritzburg on the R617 if you are in an explorative mood! (Show establishments along the route)

ROUTE T7 – DRAKENSBERG GARDENS ROAD


One of our major Tourist Routes it is tarred all the way with lots of scenic spots to stop and take pictures. Our largest hotel, accommodation and time share members have placed themselves along this road for good reasons! It ends up right in the mountains with wonderful hiking opportunities. The Umzimkulu river forms the spine of this valley and lots of events like cycle races and the famous Drakensberg challenge canoe race take place here. Cycling trails crisscross the area and give world class experiences to the active mountain biker. Come and enjoy some of the numerous restaurants as well. Horse riding is also offered along the Drakensberg Garden Road. (Show establishments along the route)

ROUTE T8 – BUSHMAN’S NEK ROAD


The second Route partially following the Umzimkulu river has major tourism resorts and lodges placed along it. The scenery is dominated buy one of our iconic mountains – Garden castle. It is a gravel road waiting to be upgraded, so take your time. It also loops back to the R617 as an alternative to coming back the same way to Underberg. (Show establishments along the route)

ROUTE T9 – Scotston Valley ROAD


Actually almost still in the village of Underberg it crosses the bridge at the bottom of the valley. Some of our members offer accommodation here amongst farming pastures. (Show establishments along the route)



The Best Time to Visit South Africa

South Africa is the ultimate year-round destination. No matter when you decide to travel, there's always something amazing going on—from whale migrations and prime game-viewing in winter; to blissful sunshine and Christmas festivities in summer. For generally good weather for whatever you want to do, the best time to visit South Africa is May through October, during the southern hemisphere's winter. Days are still clear and warm, with colder nights.

Weather in South Africa

South Africa is a vast country, with a mix of desert, tropical coastlines, temperate woodlands, and snow-capped mountains. Because of this, climates can vary.

Unlike many other African countries, South Africa does have four distinct seasons. May through September is typically the drier season, covering winter and a shorter spring season, and making it ideal for game drives and other outdoor activities. October through April is the wet season, encompassing fall and summer. This is an excellent season for bird-watching, and even then, rains are often quick showers that are unlikely to affect your trip. December through February are very hot (the equivalent of summer for the Northern Hemisphere) and can be crowded since schools are on holiday.

In general, high temperatures range from around 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.

Mark Meredith / Getty Images

The Best Time to Go on Safari

The best time to go on safari is during the dry season. For most of the country, this means traveling during the southern hemisphere winter (May to October), when the weather is typified by clear, warm days and chilly nights. At this time of year, there is less foliage on the trees, making it easier to spot animals in the bush. The lack of available water draws wildlife to dams and waterholes, which is where you'll get some of your best sightings. Dry weather also means better road conditions for self-drive safaris at parks like Addo and Mkhuze, while the chill keeps mosquitoes at bay (a major plus for safaris in malarial areas of South Africa).

Game reserves near Cape Town are the exception to this rule. In the southernmost part of the country, summers are the driest time of year. Therefore, it's best to travel between November and March for the best safari sightings. Be aware, though, that this time of year coincides with the busiest period for tourism in South Africa and you'll need to book accommodations and game drives in advance. For keen birders, the rules are reversed. The rainy season brings an influx of insects and fills up the rivers and lakes, attracting a host of migratory birds from Europe and Asia.

Photos by g4gary / Getty Images

The Best Time to Visit Cape Town

Cape Town is undoubtedly a year-round destination, with each season bringing its fair share of unique benefits. But, if you want to make the most of the region's incredible scenery, the most reliable weather occurs during the hot, dry summer months (November to February). Take the opportunity afforded by endless sunny days to browse the city's outdoor markets, hike up Table Mountain, or catch a tan on one of the spectacular beaches of the Cape Peninsula.

Shakked Schwartz / Getty Images

The Best Time to Visit the Drakensberg 

For keen hikers, the Drakensberg Mountains are one of South Africa's top attractions. Weather-wise, the optimum time for hiking is during the fall (April to May), when you can expect warm, dry days and cool nights. At this time of year, the scenery is also mainly green and beautiful in the wake of the summer rains. Temperatures drop dramatically during the winter, with many of the higher trails coated in ice and snow. In summer, heavy rains are frequent in the north of the country (although the range's many waterfalls are at their most spectacular).

Dirk Bleyer / Getty Images

The Best Time to Head to the Coast

South Africa's twin coastlines extend for more than 1,600 miles (2,500 kilometers) and offer an unlimited array of activities. The best time to visit depends mostly on what you want to do. If sunbathing is your top priority, then summer (November to January) is undoubtedly the hottest time of year. Be warned though: If you're headed north to KwaZulu-Natal or Zululand, summer also means frequent thunderstorms and high humidity.

Whale-watching is also best in winter and spring. From June to October, humpbacks and southern right whales can be seen passing close to shore on their annual migration to the breeding grounds off Mozambique. If you're coming to South Africa to scuba dive, there is no "off" season, just different seasons. Shark-diving mecca Aliwal Shoal offers baited shark dives all year round, but if you want to swim alongside a tiger shark, you'll need to time your trip to coincide with the influx of warm water from December to April. However, June to August is Sardine Run season, offering the opportunity to witness one of the underwater world's most significant natural events. Rock and surf fishermen can also experience world-class fishing on the Transkei coast during the annual Sardine Run.

Juan-Carlos Munoz / Getty Images

The Best Time For Wildflower Blooms

Every year, the arrival of spring sparks the start of an incredible natural phenomenon in the Northern Cape. Almost overnight, the province's arid desert landscapes are transformed into a rich tapestry of color by the simultaneous blooming of thousands of wildflowers. Creating a sea of orange, pink, purple, yellow, and white, the super bloom includes over 3,500 different species, of which almost a third are endemic. Timings are difficult to get right because the rains dictate the bloom. However, it usually starts in the far north in late July or early August, moving slowly south until it fades in September.

Spring

Spring is when the peak wildflower bloom and whale migrations take place. It's also the ideal time to visit Durban, in the north, where the climate can be muggy at other times of the years.

Events to check out:

  • Hopefield Fynbos Show takes place every August and September, celebrating this dramatic flower with food stalls, tractor races, and more.
  • During the first half of September, more than 10,000 Zulu maidens in traditional dress head toward Zulu king’s KwaNyokeni Palace in KwaZulu-Natal Province as part of a four-day procession.
  • Johannesburg hosts the 10-day Arts Alive Festival every September. Performances include stage dance, concerts, and more, performed by both local and international talents.

Summer

If you're traveling on a budget, avoid the rush of high summer, when accommodation and activities are at their most expensive across the much of the country.

Events to check out:

  • The Swartland Heritage Festival takes place in November, celebrating more than 20 different wine producers and food from the region.
  • The new year kicks off with a bang thanks to the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, or the "Kaapse Klopse" in Afrikaans. Held on January 1 and continuing through the first week of the year, costumed minstrels parade through the streets of Cape Town, playing traditional jazz and music.

Fall

The Winelands of Franschhoek, Paarl, and Stellenbosch are extraordinarily beautiful in fall when the weather is cooler, and the trees start to change color, and the season is also optimal for hiking throughout the country.

Events to check out:

  • The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, southern Africa's biggest jazz festival, is held each April.
  • AfrikaBurn is a unique event not unlike Burning Man in the U.S. Held in late April, the incredible week-long event takes place in Ceres, near the Tankwa Karoo National Park.

Winter

If you're interested in discovering South Africa's best surf spots, winter brings big swells and consequently, the best waves. This is also the ideal season to head out on safari.

Events to check out:

  • August 9 is a country-wide celebration for Women's Day.
  • The National Arts Festival takes place in July in Grahamstown. The 11-day-long festival includes theatrical dramas, opera, street entertainers, and visual art.
  • If you love oysters, don't miss the Knysna Oyster Festival, held every July in Knysna. Events include shucking contests, eating challenges, and even a marathon.

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