The Alpine Kingdom: Lesotho and the Northern Drakensberg

This is a part II of the Northern Drakensberg. Part I is found here! 

(Click on Images to Enlarge)

The Drakensberg Escarpment, the Wall of Spears, uKhahlamba. It has many names. From the grassy savannas of KwaZulu-Natal, to the undulating hills of the lower Drakensberg, the high Berg dominates the horizon. More often than not, the flickering strobe on a massive lightning storm shrouds the highest plateaus. It is Daunting, but the Drakensberg is a playground like no other. Lets go on an adventure!

The Rim of the Escarpment looks whole from below, like a castle wall you could walk easily from one end to another. Rather, the rim is gouged with deep ravines that can slice into the basalt rock over a deep, making the hike much more interesting than a simple straight line. The views from the rim are staggering. The face drops down over 4,000 feet, and makes the big walls of Yosemite look small in comparison. The biggest face of El Capitan could fit ten times into the Amphitheater’s face alone. Below the drop, the lower Berg, made of softer sandstone, ripples away in a blend of blues and greens.

Lesotho is the epitome of an alpine Kingdom. The lowest point in the entire country is 4,593.2 ft, which makes it the highest low point of any country in the world. To say the high Drakensberg region of Lesotho is underdeveloped, would be an understatement. You may find a stone and thatch hut tucked away among some rocks, or even a Basuto shepherd. Some consideration should be taken with drug smugglers, usually hauling marijuana on pack animals from Lesotho to South Africa. Stay away from them and they will likely stay away from you. Other precautions like not leaving anything outside of your tent at night should be taken. A few hikers have woken up to find their nice hiking boots had walked off into the night. Finally, there are a number of caves in the Drakensberg. Many of them are used by the Basuto people and should be avoided, mostly because they tend to have a lot of trash. There are plenty of regulated caves, where you can camp.

The Lower Drakensberg is made out of soft limestone, and thus has sharp, rippling edges, carved by the rivers coming off the High Berg. The colors are spectacular, with a spectrum of blue giving the mountains an underwater look. It is in these ridges and valleys that hikes like the Tugela River Gorge and Sentinel Peak can be found. The High Berg is like frosting on the cake, caused when the ground opened up and spewed out lava, which hardened into the hard, but brittle basalt that makes up the amazing wall.

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