Highlights of South Africa

Royal Natal National Park

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The Royal Natal National Park, in the northern section of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, offers the most dramatic ‘picture postcard’ scenery of the Drakensberg. An unpopulated wilderness of massive rock spires, impressive waterfalls, rivers, pools, forest and extensive grasslands, this area is famed for the 5km of sheer basalt rock wall known as the Ampitheatre, including the 3165m Sentinel Peak and 3121m Beacon Buttress and 3078m Eastern Buttress.

The nearby 3283m peak of Mont-Aux-Sources is, as the name suggests, the source of five rivers including the Orange River which flows west, defining the southern border of South Africa and Namibia. The River Tugela (sometimes spelled Thukela) also begins here, falling in spectacular fashion over the Ampitheatre wall. The Tugela Falls are the second highest in the world at 948 metres, dropping in five free-fall cascades. As many as 18 waterfalls can appear following heavy rains and, in winter, the escarpment can be covered in snow and the upper section of the falls can freeze, forming impressive icicles.

The 6-hour Tugela Gorge Walk is unmissable for a chance to see the Ampitheatre up close, as well as the famous climb to its plateau by means of two chain ladders (or via a steep gully for the more feint hearted!). From here one can appreciate the magnificence of the Tugela Falls as it plummets to the valley below.

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