Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Drakensburgs

My hero of adventure travel, Charley Boorman, is starting a new adventure that he is filming for Channel 5 in Britain tomorrow.  In honor of the trip which is called Extreme Frontiers South Africa, I would like to make today's post about a wonderful place in that country.
This one is for the nature lover's out there.  One of my dreams was always to go hiking in the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa.  One of the most dramatic sights is Tugela Falls in Kwazulu Natal or Kwazulu National Park.  Tugela Falls or Thukela Waterfal as the locals call it is the second highest waterfall in the world.  The only higher is Angell Falls in Venuzuela.
I write about this area, because unless you are a waterfall hunter in America anyway, you've never heard of it.  The Drakensburg Mountains rise just inland from the coast on the north east edge of Lesotho.  They are dramatic mountains with flat tops like the tepuis in South America.  They have virtually sheer cliffs on most of the sides and the scenery is dramatic.  The walk to Tugela Falls is a long one.  It's 4 miles or so to the falls if you go from the parking area to Mont Aux Sources.  This leads to the top of the falls and has a dramatic change in elevation.  The other route to go, and personally always my favorite, is to follow the river up to the bottom of the falls where the views and the photos are always the best.
Now, if you love waterfalls and you've gone all the way to South Africa, there is another spot that you should see.  It's the Mpumalanga Waterfalls.  There are several in this area.  Unlike the Tugela Falls which is in Kwazulu National Park, south of Johannesburg, the Mpumalanga Escarpment is northeast of Johannesburg just north of Swaziland.  There are several dramatic waterfalls in the park and they are only a couple hundred feet from the driving roads on average.  They are much easier to reach than Tugela.
So, hopefully we'll get some waterfall footage from the latest Extreme Frontiers.  I know Charley likes waterfalls, so maybe he'll stop by.  For anyone else who loves waterfalls, Tugela is one of the world's highest and the Mpumalanga grouping is beautiful and dramatic.  So, if you've ever wondered what there was to do in South Africa besides see the residuals of Apartheid and find out where diamonds come from, here you go.  Nature, not just animal viewing, is at it's finest in the eastern part of South Africa in the Drakensburg Mountains and the Mpumalanga Escarpment.
Happy hunting!

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