The Drakensberg (Afrikaans: Drakensberge, Zulu: uKhahlamba, Sotho: Maluti) is the name given to the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, which encloses the central Southern African plateau. The Great Escarpment reaches its greatest elevation in this region – 2,000 to 3,482 metres (6,562 to 11,424 feet). It is located in South Africa and Lesotho.

The Escarpment and the Drakensberg
A map of South Africa showing the central plateau edged by the Great Escarpment and its relationship to the Cape Fold Mountains to the south. The portion of the Great Escarpment shown in red is known as the Drakensberg.

The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for over 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from the Eastern Cape Province in the South, then successively forms, in order from south to north, the border between Lesotho and the Eastern Cape and the border between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal Province. Thereafter it forms the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, and next as the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Province. It winds north, through Mpumalanga, where it includes features such as the Blyde River Canyon, Three Rondavels and God's Window. It moves north again to Hoedspruit in South eastern Limpopo where it is known as 'Klein Drankensberg' by the Afrikaner, from Hoedspruit it moves west to Tzaneen also in Limpopo Province, where it is known as the Wolkberg Mountains and Iron Crown Mountain, at 2,200 m (7,200 ft) above sea level, the Wolkberg being the highest mountain range in Limpopo. It veers west again and at Mokopane it is known as the Strydpoort Mountains.[1][2]

South Africa - Drakensberg (16261357780)
Highest point
PeakThabana Ntlenyana
Elevation3,482 m (11,424 ft)
Coordinates29°23′S 29°27′E / 29.383°S 29.450°ECoordinates: 29°23′S 29°27′E / 29.383°S 29.450°E
Length1,000 km (620 mi) SW to NE
EtymologyDragon's mountain
Native name
CountriesSouth Africa and Lesotho
Type of rockBasalt and Quartzite


The Afrikaans name Drakensberge comes from the name the earliest Dutch settlers to the region gave it. They called them the Drakensbergen, or "Mountains of Dragons". Several possible reasons for this name include the pointy tops giving an appearance similar to that of the back of the mythical European dragon, old local myths of dragons roaming the mountains, and possible findings of dinosaur fossils (which would have been confused with the remains of dragons).[3]

When most South Africans and visitors speak of the Drakensberg, they refer to the Great Escarpment that forms the border between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal, believing it to be a range of mountains extending into Lesotho, more correctly known as the Lesotho Highlands. This highest portion of the Great Escarpment is known as uKhahlamba ("Barrier of up-pointed spears")[4] in Zulu and Maluti in Sotho.

Geological origins

About 180 million years ago, a mantle plume under southern Gondwana caused bulging of the continental crust in the area that would later become southern Africa.[5] Within 10–20 million years rift valleys formed on either side of the central bulge, which became flooded to become the proto-Atlantic and proto-Indian oceans.[5][6] The stepped steep walls of these rift valleys formed escarpments that surrounded the newly formed Southern African subcontinent.[5] With the widening of the Atlantic, Indian and Southern oceans, Southern Africa became tectonically quiescent. Earthquakes rarely occur, and there has been no volcanic or orogenic activity for about 50 million years.[7] An almost uninterrupted period of erosion has continued to the present, resulting in layers several kilometers thick having been lost from the surface of the plateau.[5] A thick layer of marine sediment was consequently deposited onto the continental shelf (the lower steps of the original rift valley walls) which surrounds the subcontinent.[6]

During the past 20 million years, further massive upliftment, especially in the East, has taken place in Southern Africa. As a result, most of the plateau lies above 1,000 m (3,300 ft) despite the extensive erosion. The plateau is tilted such that its highest point is in the east, and it slopes gently downwards towards the west and south. The elevation of the edge of the eastern escarpments is typically in excess of 2,000 m (6,600 ft). It reaches its highest point (over 3,000 m (9,800 ft)) where the escarpment forms part of the international border between Lesotho and the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.[5][1]

The upliftment of the central plateau over the past 20 million years and erosion resulted in the original escarpment being moved inland, creating the present-day coastal plain.[5][8][9] The position of the present escarpment is approximately 150 kilometres (93 mi) inland from the original fault lines which formed the walls of the rift valley that developed along the coast during the break-up of Gondwana. The rate of the erosion of the escarpment in the Drakensberg region is said to average 1.5 m (5 ft) per 1000 years, or 1.5 millimetres (116 in) per year.[9]

Because of the extensive erosion of the plateau, which occurred over most of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras, none of its surface rocks (except the Kalahari sands) are younger than 180 million years.[5][10] The youngest rocks that remain cap the plateau in Lesotho. These are the Clarens Formation laid down under desert conditions about 200 million years ago, topped by a 1,600 m (5,200 ft) thick layer of lava which erupted, and covered most of Southern Africa, and large parts of Gondwana, about 180 million years ago.[5][6][11] These rocks form the steep sides of the Great Escarpment in this region, where its upper edge reaches an elevation in excess of 3,000 m (9,800 ft).

The erosional retreat of the escarpment from the coast to its present position, means that the rocks of the coastal plain are, with very few and small exceptions, older than those that cap the top of the escarpment. Thus the rocks of the Mpumalanga Lowveld below the Mpumalanga portion of the Great Escarpment are more than 3000 million years old.[10] The rocks of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands belong, in the main, to the Beaufort and Ecca Groups (of the Karoo Supergroup), aged 220–310 million years, and are therefore considerably older than the Drakensberg lavas (aged 180 million years) which cap the escarpment on the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho.[10]

The entire eastern portion of the Great Escarpment (see the accompanying map) constitutes the Drakensberg.[1][12] The Drakensberg terminate in the north near Tzaneen at about the 22° S parallel. The absence of the Great Escarpment for about 450 km (280 mi) to the north of Tzaneen (to reappear on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique in the Chimanimani Highlands) is due to a failed westerly branch of the main rift that caused Antarctica to start drifting away from Southern Africa during the breakup of Gondwana about 150 million years ago. The lower Limpopo River and Save River drain into the Indian Ocean through what remains of this relict incipient rift valley which now forms part of the South African Low veld.[5]



SW-NE geological cross section through South Africa
An approximate SW-NE cross section through South Africa with the Cape Peninsula (with Table Mountain) on the far left, and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal on the right. Diagrammatic and only roughly to scale. It shows how the Drakensberg Escarpment is related to the major geographical features that dominate the southern and eastern parts of the country, particularly the Central Plateau, whose south-western edge (in the diagram) is called the Roggeberg escarpment (not labelled). The major geological layers that shape this geography are indicated in different colors, whose significance and origin are explained under the headings "Karoo Supergroup" and "Cape Supergroup". The 1600 m thick layer of hard, erosion-resistant basalt (lava) that accounts for the height and steepness of the Drakensberg Escarpment on the KwaZuluNatal-Lesotho border is indicated in blue. Immediately below it is the Stormberg Group shown in green. The Clarence Formation with its numerous caves and San rock paintings, forms part of this latter group.

The escarpment seen from below looks like a range of mountains. The Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Lesotho Drakensberg have hard erosion-resistant upper surfaces and therefore have a very rugged appearance, combining steep-sided blocks and pinnacles (giving rise to the Zulu name "Barrier of up-pointed spears"). Who first gave these mountains their Afrikaans or Dutch name Drakensberg, and why, is unknown.[4]). The KwaZulu-Natal – Free State Drakensberg are composed of softer rocks and therefore have a more rounded, softer appearance from below. The top of the escarpment is generally almost table-top flat and smooth, even in Lesotho. The "Lesotho Mountains" are formed away from the Drakensberg escarpment by erosion gulleys which turn into deep valleys which contain tributaries of the Orange River. The large number of tributaries give the Lesotho Highlands a very rugged mountainous appearance, both from the ground and from the air.

The higher parts of Drakensberg has a mildly periglacial environment. It is possible that recent climate change has diminished the intensity of periglaciation.[13]

Knight and Grab mapped out the distribution of lightning strikes in the Drakensburg and discovered that lightning significantly controls the evolution of the mountain landscapes because it helps to shape the summit areas – the highest areas – with this blasting effect. Previously, angular debris was assumed to have been created by changes typical of cold, periglacial environments, such as fracturing due to frost.[14]

Composition of rocks

The geological composition of Drakensberg (escarpment wall) varies considerably along its more than 1000 km length. The Limpopo and Mpumalanga Drakensberg are capped by an erosion resistant quartzite layer which is part of the Transvaal Supergroup which also forms the Magaliesberg to the north and northwest of Pretoria.[5] These rocks are more than 2000 million years old. South of the 26°S parallel the Drakensberg escarpment is composed of Ecca shales, which belong to the Karoo Supergroup, which are 300 million years old.[5][10] The portion of the Drakensberg that forms the KwaZulu-Natal – Free State border is formed by slightly younger Beaufort rocks (250 million years old) which are also part of the Karoo Supergroup. The Ecca and Beaufort groups are composed of sedimentary rocks which are less erosion resistant than the other rocks which make up the Drakensberg escarpment. This portion of escarpment is therefore not as impressive as the Mpumalanga and Lesotho stretches of the Drakensberg. The Drakensberg which form the north-eastern and eastern borders of Lesotho, as well as the Eastern Cape Drakensberg are composed of a thick layer of basalt (lava) which erupted 180 million years ago.[5][10] That rests on the youngest of the Karoo Supergroup sediments, the Clarens sandstone, which was laid down under desert conditions, about 200 million years ago.[5][10]

Highest peaks

The highest peak is Thabana Ntlenyana, at 3,482 m (11,424 ft). Other notable peaks include Mafadi (3,450 m (11,319 ft)), Makoaneng at 3,416 metres (11,207 ft), Njesuthi at 3,408 metres (11,181 ft), Champagne Castle at 3,377 metres (11,079 ft), Giant's Castle at 3,315 metres (10,876 ft), Ben Macdhui at 3,001 metres (9,846 ft), and Popple Peak at 3,331 metres (10,928 ft), all of these are in the area bordering on Lesotho. Another popular area for hikers is Cathedral Peak. North of Lesotho the range becomes lower and less rugged until entering Mpumalanga where the quartzite mountains of the Transvaal Drakensberg are loftier and more broken and form the eastern rim of the Transvaal Basin, the Blyde River Canyon lying within this stretch. The geology of this section is the same as and continuous with that of the Magaliesberg.


Drakensberg 00
Tugela Falls vicinity – Tugela River in valley
Little Saddle
Little Saddle

The high treeless peaks of the Drakensberg (from 2,500 m (8,200 ft) upwards) have been described by the World Wildlife Fund as the Drakensberg alti-montane grasslands and woodlands ecoregion. These steep slopes are the most southerly high mountains in Africa, and being further from the equator provide cooler habitats at lower elevations than most mountain ranges on the continent. The high rainfall generates many mountain streams and rivers, including the sources of the Orange River, southern Africa's longest, and the Tugela River. These mountains also have the world's second-highest waterfall, the Tugela Falls (Thukela Falls), which has a total drop of 947 m (3,107 ft). The rivers that run from the Drakensberg are an essential resource for South Africa's economy, providing water for the industrial provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng, which contains the city of Johannesburg.[15] The climate is wet and cool at the high elevations, which experience snowfall in winter.

Meanwhile, the grassy lower slopes (from 1,800 to 2,500 m (5,900 to 8,200 ft)) of the Drakensberg in Swaziland, South Africa and Lesotho constitute the Drakensberg Montane Grassland, Woodland, and Forest.


Cathedral Valley
Cathedral Valley

The mountains are rich in plant life, including a large number of species listed in the Red Data Book of threatened plants, with 119 species listed as globally endangered and "of the 2 153 plant species in the park, a remarkable 98 are endemic or near-endemic".[16]

The flora of the high alti-montane grasslands is mainly tussock grass, creeping plants, and small shrubs such as ericas. These include the rare Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla), which as its name suggests has leaves with a spiral shape.

Meanwhile, the lower slopes are mainly grassland but are also home to conifers, which are rare in Africa, the species of conifer found in the Drakensberg is Podocarpus. The grassland itself is of interest as it contains a great number of endemic plants. Grasses found here include oat grass Monocymbium ceresiiforme, Diheteropogon filifolius, Sporobolus centrifugus, caterpillar grass (Harpochloa falx), Cymbopogon dieterlenii, and Eulalia villosa.

In the highest part of Drakensberg the composition of the flora is independent on slope aspect (direction) and varies depending on the hardness of the rock clasts. This hardness is related to weathering and is variable even within a single landform.[13]


The Drakensberg area is "home to 299 recorded bird species"' making up "37% of all non-marine avian species in southern Africa."[16] There are 24 species of snakes in the Drakensberg, two of which are highly venomous.[17]

Fauna of the high peaks

There is one bird that is endemic to the high peaks, the mountain pipit (Anthus hoeschi), while another six are found mainly here: Bush blackcap (Lioptilus nigricapillus), buff-streaked chat (Oenanthe bifasciata), Rudd's lark (Heteromirafra ruddi), Drakensberg rockjumper (Chaetops aurantius), yellow-breasted pipit (Anthus chloris), and Drakensberg siskin (Serinus symonsi). The endangered Cape vulture and lesser kestrel are two of the birds of prey that hunt in the mountains. Mammals include klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus), eland (Taurotragus oryx) and mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula). Other endemic species include three frogs found in the mountain streams, Drakensberg river frog, (Amietia dracomontana), Phofung river frog (Amietia vertebralis) and Maluti river frog (Amietia umbraculata). Fish are found in the many rivers and streams including the Maluti redfin (Pseudobarbus quathlambae), which was thought to be extinct but has been found in the Senqunyane River in Lesotho.[18] [19]

Fauna of the lower slopes

Ukhahlamba Drakensburg Cliffs
Drakensberg Cliffs

The lower slopes of the Drakensberg support much wildlife, perhaps most importantly the rare southern white rhinoceros (which was nurtured here when facing extinction) and the black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou, which as of 2011 only thrives in protected areas and game reserves). The area is home to large herds of grazing and antelopes such as eland (Taurotragus oryx), reedbuck (Redunca arundinum), mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula), grey rhebok (Pelea capreolus), and even some oribi (Ourebia ourebi). Chacma baboons are also present. Endemic species include a large number of chameleons and other reptiles. There is one endemic frog, forest rain frog (Breviceps sylvestris), and four more that are found mainly in these mountains; long-toed tree frog (Leptopelis xenodactylus), plaintive rain frog (Breviceps maculatus), rough rain frog (Breviceps verrucosus), and Poynton's caco (Cacosternum poyntoni).


South Africa-Mpumalanga-Gods Window002
A view of the Mpumalanga Drakensberg portion of the Great Escarpment, from God's Window, near Graskop looking south. The hard erosion resistant layer that forms the upper edge of the escarpment here consists of flat lying quartzite belonging to the Black Reef Formation, which also forms the Magaliesberg mountains near Pretoria.[5][9]

The high slopes are hard to reach so the environment is fairly undamaged. However, tourism in the Drakensberg is developing, with a variety of hiking trails, hotels and resorts appearing on the slopes. Most of the higher South African parts of the range have been designated as game reserves or wilderness areas. Of these the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park was listed by UNESCO in 2000 as a World Heritage site. The park is also in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (under the Ramsar Convention). The Royal Natal National Park, which contains some of the higher peaks, is part of this large park complex. Adjacent to the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site is the 1900 ha Allendale Mountain Reserve which is the largest private reserve adjoining the World Heritage Site and is found in the accessible Kamberg area, the heart of the historic San (Bushman) painting region of the Ukhahlamba.

The grassland of the lower slopes meanwhile has been greatly affected by agriculture, especially overgrazing. Original grassland and forest has nearly all disappeared and more protection is needed, though the Giant's Castle reserve is a haven for the eland and also is a breeding ground for the bearded vulture.

Panorama of the Giant's Castle region

The Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area was established to preserve some of the high mountain areas of the range.[20]

Urban areas

Towns and cities in the Drakensberg area include, from South to North, Matatiele and Barkly East in the Eastern Cape Province; Ladysmith, Newcastle, Ulundi – the former Zulu capital, Dundee and Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal; all of Lesotho, whose capital is Maseru and Tzaneen in Limpopo Province.

San cave paintings

San Painting, Ukalamba Drakensberge 1
San rock painting of an eland in a Clarens Formation cave in the UKhahlamba Drakensberg Park of KwaZulu-Natal close to the Lesotho border.

There are numerous caves in the easily eroded sandstone of Clarens Formation, the layer below the thick, hard basalt layer on the KwaZulu Natal-Lesotho border. Many of these caves have rock paintings by the San (Bushmen). This portion of the Drakensberg has between 35,000 and 40,000 works of San rock art[16][21] and is the largest collection of such work in the world. Some 20,000 individual rock paintings have been recorded at 500 different caves and overhanging sites between the Drakensberg Royal Natal National Park and Bushman's Nek.[21] Due to the materials used in their production, these paintings are difficult to date but there is anthropological evidence, including many hunting implements, that the San people existed in the Drakensberg at least 40,000 years ago, and possibly over 100,000 years ago. According to mountainsides.co.za, "[i]n Nd edema Gorge in the Central Ginsberg 3,900 paintings have been recorded at 17 sites. One of them, Sebaayeni Cave, contains 1,146 individual paintings."[22] The website south Africa.info indicates that though "the oldest painting on a rock shelter wall in the Ginsberg dates back about 2400 years.....paint chips at least a thousand years older have also been found."[16] The site also indicates that "[t]he rock art of the Drakensberg is the largest and most concentrated group of rock paintings in Africa south of the Sahara, and is outstanding both in quality and diversity of subject."[16]

In popular culture

The Drakensberg was featured in the 2009 American science fiction film 2012. It was mentioned in the last scene of the movie, where after twenty-seven days of a great flood which people tried to survive by building arks, the waters began receding. The arks approach the Cape of Good Hope, where the Drakensberg (now the tallest mountain range on Earth) emerges.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Reader's Digest Atlas of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Reader's Digest Association South Africa. 1984. pp. 13, 190–192.
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (1975); Micropaedia Vol. III, p. 655. Helen Hemingway Benton Publishers, Chicago.
  3. ^ "Drakensbergen in Kwazulu-Natal". visitafricanow.com (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b Pearse, Reg O. (1973). Barrier of Spears: Drama of the Drakensberg. H. Timmins. p. i. ISBN 978-0-86978-050-3.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n McCarthy, Terence; Rubidge, Bruce (2005). The Story of Earth & Life: A Southern Africa Perspective on a 4.6 Billion-year Journey. Cape Town: Penguin Random House South Africa. pp. 16–7, 192–195, 245–248, 263, 267–269. ISBN 978-1-77007-148-3.
  6. ^ a b c Truswell, J. F. (1977). The Geological Evolution of South Africa. Cape Town: Alice Kelly Purnell. pp. 151–153, 157–159, 184–188, 190.
  7. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (1975); Macropaedia, Vol. 17. p. 60. Helen Hemingway Benton Publishers, Chicago.
  8. ^ McCarthy, T. S. (2013). "The Okavango Delta and its Place in the Geomorphological Evolution of Southern Africa". South African Journal of Geology. 116 (1): 1–54. doi:10.2113/gssajg.116.1.1. ISSN 1012-0750.
  9. ^ a b c Norman, Nick; Whitfield, Gavin (2006). Geological Journeys: A Traveller's Guide to South Africa's Rocks and Landforms. Penguin Random House South Africa. pp. 290–300. ISBN 978-1-77007-062-2.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Geological map of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (1970). Council for Geoscience, Geological Survey of South Africa.
  11. ^ Sycholt, August (2002). Roxanne Reid (ed.). A Guide to the Drakensberg. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-86872-593-9.
  12. ^ The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World. London: Times Books. 1999. p. 90.
  13. ^ a b Knight, Jasper; Grab, Stefan W.; Carbutt, Clinton (2018). "Influence of mountain geomorphology on alpine ecosystems in the Drakensberg Alpine Centre, Southern Africa". Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography. doi:10.1080/04353676.2017.1418628.
  14. ^ Foss, Kanina (15 October 2013). "New evidence on lightning strikes: Mountains a lot less stable than we think". phys.org. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  15. ^ "Drakensberg alti-montane grasslands and woodlands". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
  16. ^ a b c d e Alexander, Mary. "Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2008.
  17. ^ Irwin, Pat (1983). A field guide to the Natal Drakensberg. The Natal Branch of the Wildlife Society of Southern Africa. p. 129. ISBN 0 949966 452.
  18. ^ Maloti Minnow at the Wayback Machine (archived 2013-06-02)
  19. ^ du Preez, Louis; Carruthers, Vincent (2015). A Complete Guide to the Frogs of Southern Africa. Penguin Random House South Africa. ISBN 978-1-77584-349-8.
  20. ^ Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area Archived 30 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ a b "Bushman and San Paintings in the Drakensberg". Drakensberg Tourism. Archived from the original on 18 September 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2008.
  22. ^ "Drakensberg Rock Art". Retrieved 3 October 2008.

Further reading

  • Rosen, Deborah; Lewis, Colin; Illgner, Peter (1999). "Palaeoclimatic And Archaeological Implications of Organic- Rich Sediments at Tifftidell Ski Resort, Near Rhodes, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 54 (2): 311–321. doi:10.1080/00359199909520630.

External links


There are many small villages associated within Bergville places like Hambrook ,Green Point,Acton homes Zwelisha, Bertany, Thintwa village just to name a few. Bergville is known for producing talent like SjavaBergville is a small town situated in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was established as Bergville Mountain Village in 1897 and is now the commercial centre for a 2,500 km² dairy and cattle ranching area. A blockhouse was built by the British soldiers in the town during the Second Boer War.

Bergville is equidistant from Johannesburg and Durban and is also known as the gateway to the Northern Drakensberg holiday resorts. It lies on Route R74 which is a more scenic alternative to the N3 Toll Road. This route takes one via the Oliviershoek Pass, traditionally used to access the Drakensberg, from Johannesburg. Bergville is easiest reached from Durban by turning off the N3 after Estcourt, joining the R74 through Winterton towards the mountain.

Other towns in the immediate region include:

Ladysmith on the R616

Acton Homes on the R616 towards Ladysmith


Jagersrust on the R74 towards Harrismith - living quarters for workers of the Drakensberg Pumped Storage SchemeServices

Emmaus HospitalNotable residents

Zāhid Jadwat - News24 columnist and writer.Projects in the Bergville Area

World Vision

Disability Information Project

Bergville Community Builders

Drakensberg Boys' Choir School

Drakensberg Boys Choir School is a choir school located near Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Drakensberg Commando

Drakensberg Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South African Army. It formed part of the South African Army Infantry Formation as well as the South African Territorial Reserve.

Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme

The Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme is an energy storage facility built in the South African provinces of Free State and KwaZulu-Natal starting in 1974 and completed by 1981.Four dams are involved in the scheme; the Driekloof Dam (joined to the Sterkfontein Dam), the Kilburn Dam, the Woodstock Dam and the Driel Barrage. Electricity generation equipment is located between Driekloof Dam and Kilburn Dam. Since the Driekloof Dam/Sterkfontein Dam also forms part of the Tugela-Vaal Water Project some of the water pumped to Driekloof Dam might end up flowing to the Vaal Dam and not be available for return to the Kilburn Dam. The Woodstock Dam and Driel Barrage are used to supply this additional water to Kilburn Dam when required.

The scheme provides for up to 27.6 gigawatt-hours (99 TJ) of electricity storage in the form of 27,000,000 cubic metres (950,000,000 cu ft) of water. The water is pumped to Driekloof during times of low national power consumption (generally over weekends) and released back into Kilburn through four 250 megawatts (340,000 hp) turbine generators in times of high electricity demand.

Drakensberg prinia

The Drakensberg prinia or saffron-breasted prinia (Prinia hypoxantha) is a small passerine bird. It lives in eastern South Africa and Swaziland.

It lives in the Drakensberg's forest edges, wooded gullies and bracken covered slopes. The Drakensberg prinia was formerly considered to be a subspecies P. m. hypoxantha of the Karoo prinia, P. maculosa.

Drakensberg rockjumper

The Drakensberg rockjumper or orange-breasted rockjumper (Chaetops aurantius) is a medium-sized insectivorous passerine bird endemic to the alpine grasslands and rock outcrops of the Drakensberg Mountains of southeastern South Africa and Lesotho. This taxon is closely related to the allopatric Cape rockjumper Chaetops frenatus; the two species of Chaetops are the only living members of the Chaetopidae (rockjumper family).

This rockjumper is 23–25 cm long with a long black tail and strong legs. The male has a dark grey head with a thin white supercilium and a broad white moustache. The back and wings are dark grey. The underparts are orange and the rump is rufous red. The female and juvenile have a paler grey head, upperparts and wings, a duller head pattern, an orange rump, and buff underparts. The call is a loud wheeoo. The Cape rockjumper male has rufous red underparts, and the female and young are darker buff below than in C. aurantius.This is a ground-nesting species which forages on rocky slopes and scree. It frequently perches on rocks. Breeding is often cooperative; one or two additional individuals, usually a pair's offspring of the preceding breeding season, may assist the parents in territorial defence and alarm calling, and in the feeding of nestlings and fledglings.

Drakensberg siskin

The Drakensberg siskin, (Crithagra symonsi), is a small passerine bird in the finch family. It is an endemic resident breeder in the eastern Cape Province Transkei and western Natal in South Africa, and in Lesotho.

This species is sometimes considered to be conspecific with the Cape siskin, Crithagra totta of southern Cape Province, in which case the nominate western form is C. t. totta, and the eastern form is C. t. symonsi.

This locally common but shy and unobtrusive siskin is found in the scrubby valleys and hillsides of the Drakensberg mountains.

Great Escarpment, Southern Africa

The Great Escarpment is a major topographical feature in Africa that consists of steep slopes from the high central Southern African plateau downward in the direction of the oceans that surround Southern Africa on three sides. While it lies predominantly within the borders of South Africa, in the east it extends northwards to form the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, continuing on beyond the Zambezi River valley to form the Muchinga Escarpment in eastern Zambia. In the west, it continues northwards into Namibia and Angola.Different names are applied to different stretches of the Great Escarpment, the most well-known section being the Drakensberg (diagram on the right). The Schwarzrand and edge of the Khomas Highland in Namibia, as well as the Serra da Chela in Angola, are also well-known names.

Joe Gqabi District Municipality

Joe Gqabi District Municipality is one of the seven districts of Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The seat of Joe Gqabi is Barkly East. The majority of its 349,768 people speak IsiXhosa (2011 census).

Before 1 February 2010 it was known as the Ukhahlamba District Municipality; its name was changed in recognition of Joe Nzingo Gqabi (1929–1981), an African National Congress member who was a journalist for the New Age, a member of the Umkhonto we Sizwe, and one of the Pretoria Twelve.

Karoo Supergroup

The Karoo Supergroup is the most widespread stratigraphic unit in Africa south of the Kalahari Desert. The supergroup consists of a sequence of units, mostly of nonmarine origin, deposited between the Late Carboniferous and Early Jurassic, a period of about 120 million years.In southern Africa, rocks of the Karoo Supergroup cover almost two thirds of the present land surface, including all of Lesotho, almost the whole of Free State, and large parts of the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces of South Africa. Karoo supergroup outcrops are also found in Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, as well as on other continents that were part of Gondwana. The basins in which it was deposited formed during the formation and breakup of Pangea. The type area of the Karoo Supergroup is the Great Karoo in South Africa, where the most extensive outcrops of the sequence are exposed. Its strata which consist mostly of shales and sandstones, record an almost continuous sequence of marine glacial to terrestrial deposition from the Late Carboniferous to the Early Jurassic. These accumulated in a retroarc foreland basin called the "main Karoo" Basin. This basin was formed by the subduction and orogenesis along the southern border of what eventually became Southern Africa, in southern Gondwana. Its sediments attain a maximum cumulative thickness of 12 km, with the overlying basaltic lavas (the Drakensberg Group) at least 1.4 km thick.Fossils include plants (both macro-fossils and pollen), rare insects and fish, common and diverse tetrapods (mostly therapsid reptiles, temnospondyl amphibians, and in the upper strata dinosaurs), and ichnofossils. Their biostratigraphy has been used as the international standard for global correlation of Permian to Jurassic nonmarine strata.

List of mountain ranges of South Africa

This is a list of mountain ranges of South Africa.

List of mountains in South Africa

List of Mountains in South Africa is a general list of mountains in South Africa, with elevation. This list includes mountains in two other sovereign states, in the Stormberg-Drakensberg range, where the highest elevations are to be found in Lesotho, as well as Emlembe, the highest mountain in Swaziland, located at the border with South Africa. The highest mountain in South Africa is 3,450 metres (11,320 ft) high Mafadi, located on the border of South Africa and Lesotho.

Several of the highest peaks have snow in the Southern hemisphere winter season.

A Khulu is a peak above 3,000 m (9,800 ft) and not within 1 km (0.62 mi) of another Khulu, as defined by the Mountain Club of South Africa. Seweweekspoortpiek and Du Toits Peak are among the ultra prominent peaks of Africa.

A few mountains, such as Spion Kop or Isandlwana are historically important hills, even though they are relatively not very high. Table Mountain is important because of its emblematic value.

Maloti-Drakensberg Park

Maloti-Drakensberg Park was established on 11 June 2001 by linking the Sehlabathebe National Park in the Kingdom of Lesotho and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The highest peak is Thaba Ntlenyana rising to 3.482 m.

The merged park includes Golden Gate Highlands National Park, QwaQwa National Park and Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve, (Free State); uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and Royal Natal National Park, (KwaZulu-Natal) and Sehlabathebe National Park, (Lesotho).

The park is situated in the Drakensberg Mountains which form the highest areas in the sub-region, and supports unique montane and sub-alpine ecosystems. These ecosystems hold a globally significant plant and animal biodiversity, with unique habitats and high levels of endemism. The park is also home to the greatest gallery of rock art in the world with hundreds of sites and many thousands of images painted by the Bushmen (San) people.

The transfrontier conservation area was conceived as a Peace park, covering about 8 113 km², made up of 5 170 km² (64%) in Lesotho and 2 943 km² (36%) in KwaZulu-Natal.

Maloti Mountains

The Maloti Mountains are a mountain range of the highlands of the Kingdom of Lesotho. They extend for about 100 km into the Free State. The Maloti Range is part of the Drakensberg system that includes ranges across large areas of South Africa. “Maloti” is also the plural for Loti, the currency of the Kingdom of Lesotho. The range forms the northern portion of the boundary between the Butha-Buthe District in Lesotho and South Africa's Free State.

Royal Natal National Park

The Royal Natal National Park is in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa and forms part of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. Notwithstanding the name, it is actually not a South African National Park managed by the SANParks, but rather a Provincial Park managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. This park is now included into the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area Peace Park.The main features of the park are the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, a rock wall 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long by up to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) high, Mont-Aux-Sources peak where the Orange and Tugela rivers have their source,

and the 948-metre (3,110 ft) Tugela Falls, the world's second-highest waterfall.

SAS Drakensberg

SAS Drakensberg (A301) is a fleet replenishment ship (AOR) of the South African Navy (SAN), with the primary role of assisting and supporting the SAN's combat vessels at sea. Built by the (now defunct) Sandock Austral shipyard in Durban, it is the largest and most sophisticated warship to have been built in South Africa.

Tugela River

The Tugela River (Zulu: Thukela; Afrikaans: Tugelarivier) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It is one of the most important rivers of the country.The river originates in Mont-aux-Sources of the Drakensberg Mountains and plunges 947 metres down the Tugela Falls. The Mont-aux-Sources is also the origin of tributaries of two other major South African rivers, the Orange and the Vaal. From the Drakensberg range, the Tugela follows a 502 kilometres (312 mi) route through the KwaZulu-Natal midlands before flowing into the Indian Ocean. The total catchment area is approximately 29,100 square kilometres (11,200 sq mi). Land uses in the catchment are mainly rural subsistence farming and commercial forestry.

UKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park

The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, covering 2,428.13 km2 (938 sq mi) of area. The park includes Royal Natal National Park, a provincial park, and covers part of the Drakensberg, the highest mountain range in Southern Africa.

The park and the adjoining Sehlabathebe National Park in the Kingdom of Lesotho are part of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park, which was first declared a World Heritage Site on 30 November 2000. It is described by UNESCO as having "exceptional natural beauty in its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts... the site’s diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally threatened species, especially birds and plants... [and it] also contains many caves and rock-shelters with the largest and most concentrated group of paintings in Africa south of the Sahara".Plans to boost tourism in the area include a long-awaited cable car project by the KZN Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department.

Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal

Winterton is a small town situated on the banks of the Tugela River in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1905 as Springfield when the Natal Government built a weir across the Little Tugela River. The town later changed its name to Winterton in honour the secretary for agriculture, HD Winter. Winterton is a small town with only a primary school. It is close to the Second Boer War battle sites of Battle of Vaal Krantz and Spioenkop.

The town is situated on the R74 between Bergville and the N3, as well as the R600 between Ladysmith and the Central Drakensberg.

Winterton also serves as an entry point to the Champagne Valley as well as the Cathedral area of the central Drakensberg, boasting well known mountain peaks such as Champagne Castle and Cathedral Peak respectively - these mountains are considered to be among the most spectacular sights in Southern Africa.

The world-famous Drakensberg Boys' Choir School is outside the town, just about 30 kilometres (19 mi) south-southwest of Winterton. The town has also grown to become a popular tourist destinations, for South Africans and foreigners alike.

Major African geological formations
Cratons and shields
Shear zones
Sedimentary basins
Mountain ranges

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