Wildlife like eland and oribi roam the rugged slopes below the snowcapped Drakensberg escarpment. Elephant and rhino in the warm African bush of the Thukela Biospere. Mix in the profilic birdlife and you have an unforgettable wildlife experience right here in the Drakensberg.
In 1903 the Giants Castle area became the first section of the mighty Ukahlmba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site to be declared a game reserve. This was to protect the dwindling herds of eland that seasonally migrated between the higher slopes of the Berg and the sweeter grasses of the thornveld plains.
Today small herds of eland are regularly spotted both here and in other regions of the Park, along with large troops of baboons and occasional glimpses of blesbuck, oribi, mountain reedbuck and duiker.
Leopard and jackal, black wildebeest and zebra also roam these high grasslands. See our wildlife gallery
By contrast, the Thukela Biospere near Weenen takes you to the heart of the African bush. In this 100 000 hectare award winning gem of a reserve the topography is diverse, ranging from large trees with dense canopies along the many rivers and streams to thick acacia scrub and open grasslands.
As a result, the area supports a wide and fascinating range of wildlife … elephant, white rhino, wildebeest, leopard, warthog, hyena, jackal and numerous species of buck.
Bird watchers will revel in the profilic birdlife. Ground hornbills, blue crane, crowned crane, bald ibis, vultures, a wide variety of smaller birds of prey as well as riverine and grassland species.
The mild climate of the Biospere also favours reptiles, and visitors will frequently encounter crocodiles, leguaans, a variety of tortoises, snakes, lizards, geckoes and, on occasion, the magnificent rock python.
The Weenen Game Reserve, adjacent to the Biospere, is known for its Serengeti-like savannah plains as well as its large concentration of endangered black rhino and the only herd of roan antelope in Kwa Zulu-Natal.
There are mountain, grassland and bushveld reserves. Some are the responsibility of KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, some are privately owned. At the Spionkop Dam you can game view from a boat, car or on foot. Here sightings of white rhino, giraffe, hartebeest and a wide selection of antelope are common.
Chelmsford Nature Reserve, meanwhile, is a grassland reserve next to Ntshingayo Dam, and claims the largest oribi population in the Southern Hemispere, as well as a good selection of highveld grazers.
Alternatively, there are the beautiful reaches of Wagendrift Dam where the intrepid canoeist may be rewarded with sightings of antelope amongst the thorny koppies of Moor Park Nature Reserve. This little reserve is particularly popular with hikers.
The town of Utrecht is unique in terms of wildlife attractions, being a town within a game reserve. Here 20 000 hectares of existing indigenous bushveld and forest have been declared a conservancy. Of this, 5 500 hectares have been enclosed as a game park, with a program of relocating various game species. The area is rich in birdlife. including breeding ground for the rare Bald Ibis.
Throughout the region accommodation for wildlife enthusiasts ranges from rustic mountain cottages and trail huts to tented bush camps, thatched store chalets and sophisticated game lodges. Or you can opt for a bed & breakfast establishment and self-drive to your selected wildlife experience each day.
KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife administer all the areas withhin the Ukahlamba-Drakensberg Park, in cluding the Cathedral Peak, Giant's Castle, Injasuti, Monk's Cowl, Royal Natal, Mahai and Rugged Glen areas.
They are also responsible for Chelmsford Nature Reserve, Spionkop Nature Reserve, Wagendrift Dam (Moor Park) and the Weenen Game Reserve.
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