Diana and David's visit to South Africa 2010 - Giant's Castle and Royal Natal Reserves, Drakensberg, KZN

Last year we had a couple of days at Thendale camp in the Royal Natal Park and both Diana and David wanted to return in the hope of doing the Gorge Walk.

We had 2 days at Giant's Castle Reserve in the Central Berg before going to Royal Natal in the Northern Berg.

Giant's Castle (S29 16.168 E29 31.195)

The wonderful view from our chalet. The 'Giant' is lying on his back. his head is on the left but his feet are hidden by the hills on the right.

We bought tickets at reception in order to visit the cave paintings which are located under the overhanging rocks in the centre of the photo.


After looking at the paintings we followed the path up the valley for a while before returning to our chalet for lunch.

In the afternoon we wandered down the valley beside the river.

We saw several eland during the day - this one had only got 1 horn.

I was the only one to brave the cold water in the river.

Royal Natal (S28 41.139 E28 57.237)

As we drove to the Northern Berg we had lovely views of the mountains.

We arrived at the Reserve in time for a picnic lunch by the lake. A baboon with its baby clinging to it's stomach walked by and jumped on the truck - Kev shooed it off. A little later, after we'd eaten, Diana and I were sitting at the picnic table and the baboon approached us. It took absolutely no notice of us, jumped onto the table, grabbed a bag of crisps and ran off. Baboons and monkeys can become a real nuisance because some people feed them and they come to associate food with people. Sometimes they become aggressive and have to be shot.

After lunch we went for a short walk to the top of a waterfall.





On our way back to the car park we had this wonderful view of The Amphitheatre - one of the most photographed and recognisable sights in the Drakensberg.

The next day was perfect for walking with sunny skies and very little wind so we set off to do the Gorge Walk which follows the Tugela river to the bottom of the Amphitheatre. The Tugela Falls are the second highest single drop falls in the world.

All set for the walk. In the background is the eastern buttress of the Amphitheatre.

We passed below the 'Policeman's Helmet' which we'd walked to last year.

There is a variety of scenery. To start with we walked through grassland along a good path with the river down below us although we could see that there was very little water in the river.

We passed through several areas of thick vegetation where the path contoured around side valleys.

Although there wasn't much water in the river we did come across some pools and there were so clear - beautiful and very inviting but very cold!

Once at the start of the gorge there wereboulders of all shapes and sizes to negotiate.

This was the view of the top of the escarpment from the highest point that we reached - a pity that we couldn't see the waterfall because there was so little water.

However we were able to explore the tunnel that the river runs through. Usually it's impossible to get through but due to the low water level it we were able to get part of the way through until we came to a deep pool.

The narrow tunnel-like gorge that the water goes through.

Kevin attempted to get across this first pool with his boots on and fell in. He then retired to sit in the sunshine and dry our his boots and socks. I then took off my boots and socks and waded through a couple of pools. I took this photo of Diana and David after wading through the first pool....

...and they took this photo of me on the way back!

The way back was along the same path back down the valley - still plenty of stunning views.

1. Richmond.

2. Giant's Castle and Royal Natal Reserves, Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal.

3. Rorke's Drift, Isandlwana and Blood RIver battlefields, KwaZulu-Natal.

4. Hlane Royal National Park,, Swaziland.

5. Kruger National Park.

6. Arathusa Safari Lodge, Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

7. Drakensberg Escarpment, Mpumalanga.

8. Johannesburg.



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