KwaZulu Natal Game and Nature ReservesThe Royal Natal National Park
The Royal Natal National Park was proclaimed in 1916, and showcases some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa. Its prime location, in the heart of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, makes it accessible, and allows visitors to this country to experience its natural gems and the aesthetic delights of the local countryside.
The Royal Natal National Park is best known for the Drakensberg Amphitheatre. This is a mammoth rock wall that extends for some five kilometres (or three miles) in length, and is approximately 500 metres high in most places. It is perched between the Sentinel (3 165 metres above sea level) and Eastern Buttress (3 047 metres above sea level), with a number of domes rising from its relatively flat summit plateau.
In 1836, the French missionaries Arbousset and Daumas named the largest of these domes Mont-aux-Sources. The literal description of this is “source of five rivers”. Of these, the Tugela River plummets 948 metres in five clear leaps, making it the second-highest waterfall in the world. The Tugela Falls' upper reaches occasionally freeze in winter to create dazzling columns of ice. And, just to confound weather experts, the Royal Natal National Park creates a White Christmas in the middle of our sub-tropical summer.
The Royal Natal National Park is ideal for hiking, with a superb network of graded walks that are varied enough to cater to all levels of fitness and agility. Some of these are also ideal for exploration on horseback, which means covering longer distances at the same restful pace. Some hiking trails take only about an hour to complete, while others can take the better part of the day. The full Mont-aux-Sources trail takes two days. These trails promise breath-taking views and exquisite backdrops against which to make lifelong memories. Guidebooks are available for visitors, and almost every part of the park can be explored via the many hiking trails throughout its expanse.
The summit of Mont-aux-Sources can be reached by walking from the summit plateau and scaling a 100-rung chain ladder. For those wanting even more of a daring encounter, though, the annual Mont-aux-Sources Challenge is a cross-country racing event over and through the mountains. This is undertaken by fit men and women from all over the world.
This region is rich in fauna and flora, and those visiting the Royal Natal National Park will be treated to some exciting and beautiful sights. Birdwatchers, in particular, will be delighted at the variety. Special species include the bearded vulture and the black eagle.
The park’s dam and its rivers (Mahai and Thukela) make the ideal spots for trout fishermen to enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside while indulging in some rewarding fishing. Sitting on the banks, soaking up the warm sunshine and breathing in the fresh African air will leave visitors to the Royal Natal National Park yearning to come back year after year.
Popular Activities in Royal Natal National Park
The Tugela Falls in the Drakensberg is the highest waterfall in Africa. It is also regarded as the second highest waterfall in the world. There is, however, an ongoing debate that it could be the world's tallest waterfall, as opposed to Angel Falls in...
More info and contact details: Tugela Falls
Sentinel Peak Trail
The Sentinel Peak trail is also known as the 'chain ladders' hike. What would usually be a rather tough and arduous multi-day slog from the Mahai campsite in the Royal Natal National Park is converted into a day's hike. The difference: a drive...
More info and contact details: Sentinel Peak Trail
Ploughman’s Kop Trail
Ploughman’s Kop is a mountain in the shape of a head on the left arm of The Amphitheatre in the Royal Natal Park, which is in turn part of the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. Really the walk is about the Ploughman’s pools, but to reach them...
More info and contact details: Ploughman’s Kop Trail