KwaZulu Natal DestinationsGiants Castle, Drakensberg
Lying at the southern end of the central Drakensberg, Giant’s Castle, which gets its name from the outline of the peaks and escarpment that combine to resemble the profile of a sleeping giant, is essentially a grassy plateau that nestles among the deep valleys of this part of the Drakensberg, offering some of the most breathtaking scenery.
Giant’s Castle Nature Reserve is home to the eland and bearded vulture, also known as bone eaters of the ‘berg. A drastic decline in this bird’s numbers means that an isolated population in the highlands of Lesotho and adjacent areas is all that remains of the bird, and birders try to time their visits with the vulture hide feeding season, from May to September.
The terrain in this beautiful part of the world is a sprinkling of clear mountain streams, bush-lined banks, wetlands, steep grassy slopes, sandstone cliffs and towering precipices and buttresses that have lured many a climber to Giant’s, as it is locally known. There are a number of hikes to choose from and they range from the rather severe hike to Bannerman Hut, to the more sedate Champagne Pools circular walk from Giant’s Castle main gate, which takes you to secluded pools for swimming and fishing.
Weather here is dicey and clouds and rain can roll in fast, in what feels like minutes, so warm clothes are an itinerary item at any time of the year. There is good access to Giant’s along gravel roads from Mooi River or from Escourt – both towns are on the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg.