South Africa: Kwazulu-Natal - Langdale Walking Holidays

From Johannesburg, we venture out into the spectacular mountaiWildlife-Reserve-Fugitive's-Driftn scenery (and protected World Heritage Site) of the Drakensberg Mountains, staying at the impressive Champagne Castle Hotel, nestled just below the second highest peak in South Africa.

  • Guided Walks in the Drakensberg Mountains, Home of South Africa’s Highest Peaks
  • Zulu Cultural Visits to Local Communities
  • Elegant Hotel and Lodge in a Spectacular Location
  • Tours of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift
  • Accompanied by a Tour Leader
  • Local Experienced Guides
  • Experience South Africa in the Company of Like-minded Travellers

In the good company of your expert tour leader and local guides, join us for a guided walking programme suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit, combined with visits to fascinating cultural and historic places of interest. You can look forward to magnificent views overlooking the Amphitheatre and soaring peaks of the Drakensberg range - known to the Zulus as the "Barrier of Spears" in respect of the awesome pinnacles of rock that give the range its dramatic character.

The second part of your holiday centres around Fugitives’ Drift, popular for its battlefield tours of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Gain an unrivalled insight into the area from your official local guides as they unfold the gripping details of the bravery and mobility of the Zulu army that defeated the British at Isandlwana as well as the famous story of Rorke’s Drift, where 100 British soldiers were attacked by 4,000 Zulu warriors, winning more Victoria Crosses than in any other battle.

March is the perfect time to visit South Africa’s mountain region. Being in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are in reverse and our visit coincides with their late summer. The walks and visits will be accompanied by licensed local guides who will provide valuable insight into the local culture, history and geography of this beautiful part of South Africa.

Walking Grade: Grade: Moderate

Day 1: Tuesday 14th March: Flight from UK to South Africa

Arrive at the airport under your own arrangements for the flight to Johannesburg. Please check-in at least two and a half hours before departure time, using your passport and boarding pass.

Flights are the latest known and subject to confirmation by the British Airways. Flights include allocated seats and hold luggage allowance of 23kg.

Day 2: Wednesday 15th March: Johannesburg to Drakensburg Mountains

Met on arrival by our local agents and private transfer to the hotel. This scenic drive of around 400km will take around five hours, allowing for a comfort stop along the way.
Our route is via the A3, Harrismith, Bergville and Sterkfontein Dam.

South Africa is one hour ahead of UK time.

Overnight at Champagne Castle Hotel, Drakensberg

Accommodation: Champagne Castle Hotel, Drakensbergs

Meals: Dinner,

Day 3: Thursday 16th March: Gorge Walk & Nandi's Falls

Accompanied by our local guide we set off on a relatively level trail to a pool and secluded waterfall, known as Nandi’s Falls. Follow the Sterkspruit River looking out for many different bird species. There will be various options to explore side paths and mountain pools along the way. Look out for large ferns (Cyathea Dregei) & the Natal bottle brush plants (Greyia Sutherlandii).

Dinner tonight at the Champagne Castle Hotel.

Walking: Grade: Easy, Duration: 5 Hrs, Distance: 7km.

Accommodation: Champagne Castle Hotel, Drakensbergs

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner,

Day 4: Friday 17th March: Blind Man's Corner

Accompanied by our local guide and we set off with a picnic lunch provided by the hotel for today’s walk.

The route starts at the Base car park and we follow the Sphinx Trail to the Little Berg Plateau. As you reach the Plateau there Is a beautiful little stream, known as Breakfast Stream and a perfect place to rest and admire the view. Follow the stream upwards and the remainder of the walks is a relatively flat trail until reaching a hill known as Verkykerskop.

As we approach the Point look out for spectacular views towards Cathkin Peak (3 148M), Sterkhorn (2 973M), Amphlet aAnd Turrets. You Can also see Gatberg (Intunja) meaning “Eye Of The Needle “ In Zulu. The route ends on the contour path which separate Little Berg and the High Berg.

Your evening meal is back at the Champagne Castle Hotel.

Walking: Grade: Moderate, Duration: 6 Hrs, Distance: 12km.

Accommodation: Champagne Castle Hotel, Drakensbergs

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Day 5: Saturday 18th March: Makhurumane Trail

Accompanied by our local guide and we set off with a picnic lunch provided by the hotel for today’s walk. Transport is provided to the start point and return to the hotel.

This is a great walk in the Sterkspruit Valley which begins with views of Nandis Falls and the Gorge and takes us through Hlathikhulu Forest. The trail crosses the Sterkspruit River which is crossed either by boulder hopping or wading. Regular residents along this stretch of the river are giant kingfishers, often seen flying from boulder to boulder searching for aquatic prey. Look out for piles of crab shells left by the Cape Clawless Otter and territorial markings of porcupines. Cleo’s Pool will be a tempting place to enjoy our picnic lunch The route then ascends to Cow Cave where native art rock can be seen, estimated to be about 800 years old depicting the arrival of the Nguni people, who introduced cattle to the area.

Dinner back at the Champagne Castle Hotel.

Walking: Grade: Moderate, Duration: 7 Hours, Distance: 16 km.

Accommodation: Champagne Castle Hotel, Drakensbergs

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Day 6: Sunday 19th March: Local Sightseeing Tour

Today we plan to spend the morning visiting local villages and other places of interest (optional visits dependent on preferences of the group).

Time at leisure in the afternoon.

Dinner tonight at Champagne Castle Hotel, Drakensberg.

Accommodation: Champagne Castle Hotel, Drakensbergs

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner,

Day 7: Monday 20th March: Sunset Trail

Accompanied by our local guide and we set off with a picnic lunch provided by the hotel for today’s walk.

This walk takes us across the Matterhorn (1995M) and along the summit of the Little Berg above Champagne Castle Hotel, before reaching Breakfast Stream. Here we make a short detour to a view point overlooking Wonder Valley with magnificent forest and cliffs where black eagles are occasionally seen soaring over the valley searching for prey.

The route leads towards Blind Man’s Corner, where we descend to Keartland Pass below the sandstone cliffs, We pass a huge chunk of cliff that recently broke away form the cliff and plunged down into the valley. This is a natural occurrence caused by cracks in the rocks filling with rain water and freezing during the winter causing the rock to expand.

Further along the trail we see large specimen of the Drakensberg Cycad and Encephalitis Ghiellinckii. We wallk along the bottom of Nandis Falls and rock pools along the Impofana River.

Evening meals are taken back at the Champagne Castle Hotel.

Walking: Grade: Moderate, Duration: 8 Hrs,. Distance: 16km.

Accommodation: Champagne Castle Hotel, Drakensbergs

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Day 8: Tuesday 21st: Scenic Drive to Fugitive's Lodge

Transfer to Fugitives Drift. Today’s scenic drive will take around four hours. From Bergville we take the A616 towards Ladysmith, Glencoe, Dundee and Greytown. Comfort stop along the way -Fugitives’ Drift Lodge, Rorke’s Drift, Kwazulu, Netal

Met on arrival by the Fugitive’s Ridge staff and shown around the Lodge followed by Lunch which is served in the Harford Library from 1:00pm The Harford Library has stunning views of the Buffalo River and Isandlwana.

Tea is served at 3:30pm, followed by a walk stopping off at various look out points arriving at the site where Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill lost their lives in an attempt to save the Queen’s Colour, earning the first two posthumous Victoria Crosses ever awarded. The walk returns to the Lodge at 5:30 - 6pm (alternative option is the Rorke’s Drift Tour).

After a relaxing afternoon, guests join us for drinks and snacks around the fire at 7:00pm, followed by dinner in the dining room hosted by one of our staff members. Please let us know on arrival if you have any dietary requirements as the dinner is a set menu.

Accommodation: Fugitive's Drift

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Day 9: Wednesday 22nd March: Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift

Today begins with a tea/coffee tray sent to your room, with breakfast served in the dining room from 06:50am. There is a buffet of homemade muesli, cereals, toast, fresh fruit, muffins, yoghurt and porridge. One of the lodge’s friendly service staff will be there to take your order for bacon, eggs and our daily special, which are all cooked to order.

Depart at 7:30am by Land Rover for your tour in Isandlwana, listening to a tape narrated by David Rattray explaining the background to the Anglo-Zulu War for the journey. There is a stop at 9:00 to visit the museum at Isandlwana. The lecture on the battlefield begins at 9:45 and ends around 11:45, when tea, coffee and refreshments are served.

The lecture takes place half way up the hill. Another tape, this time describing the story of the survivors and events after the battle of Isandlwana, is played en-route back to the Lodge, returning in time for lunch at 1:00pm.

The Rorke’s Drift tour departs at 3:00pm. Guests have time to look through the museum at Rorke’s Drift before the lecture begins at 4:00pm. The lecture concludes around 6pm where guests are then given the opportunity to look around the memorials and graveyard before returning to the Lodge Guest House (Alternative option: Graves Walk).

Drinks are served around the fire at 7:00pm followed by dinner hosted by one of the staff members.

Accommodation: Fugitive's Drift

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Day 10: Thursday 23rd March: Depart Fugitive's Dirft for Johannesburg

Breakfast is served from 06:50am until 9:00am, so after a leisurely wake up and breakfast, check out time is 10:00am.

Guests are welcome to head out for a walk before departure. Follow the walking trails into the heart of the reserve and look out for giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and the elusive kudu.

Private transfer to the airport for the return flight to UK.

Our drive to the airport at Johannesburg should take around five hours, travelling towards Dundee, Hattingspruit, Dannhauser and Villiens.

Meals: Breakfast,

Day 11: Friday 24th March: Arrive Back in UK

Arrive back in the UK following overnight flight from Johannesburg.

Champagne Castle Hotel 4* - Drakensberg Mountains

Champagne Castle Hotel Drakensberg MountainsChampagne Castle refers to the second highest peak in all of South Africa, and it's here in the foothills of the mountain that our luxury hotel is located. Rooms are well-appointed with spectacular views over the surrounding mountains, which are likely to still be snow-capped at the beginning of spring in the Drakensbergs.

The hotel is a popular base for guided nature walks around the Sterkspruit Valley, Hlathikhulu Forest, waterfalls, plateaus and alongside the Sterkspruit River. It's an ideal location for catching sight of an array of mountain flora and wildlife, particularly the rare birds of prey that nest in the Drakensberg Mountains.

fugutivesdrift_balcony

Fugitive's Drift - Kwazulu-Natal National Park

A luxurious and comfortable environment, perfect for history buffs with expert narrator/tour guides who are adept at putting you right there in the moment of the most dramatic battles in South Africa's history. The view from your room stretches over the mountains, as well as the Fugitive's Drift Game Reserve, of which both the Lodge and the Guest House lie within its 5,000 acres. Here, you can spot Giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala, porcupine, kudu, monkeys and many more species of wildlife native to the Kwazulu Natal region.

Availability Status: Available To Book

Price per person, sharing a twin/double room including international flights £3650
Single person supplement, occupying a double room £350
Optional flight upgrade to Premium Economy On request

What The Standard Price Includes

  • Return Flights from UK to Johannesburg
  • Private airport transfers
  • Welcome reception
  • Eight nights' Mountain Hotel and Game Reserve Lodge Accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary and two picnic lunches
  • Guided walking programme
  • Entrance fees to all sight seeing destinations and national parks
  • South African taxes
  • Back-up Support of Our Agents in South Africa
  • Personal transport and drivers
  • Accompanying tour leader

Not Included

  • Drinks
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities to your guide, which are optional

Please Note: For reasons of safety, weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances, it may be necessary to make changes to the programme without advance notice. Every effort will be made to avoid this if at all possible.

Outbound

Tuesday 14th March: Fly to Johannesburg
Arrive at the airport, Manchester or London Heathrow, under your own arrangements for the flight to Johannesburg. Please check-in at least two hours before departure time.

Depart Manchester:

  • Depart Manchester: 17:10
  • Flight Time: 1:00
  • Arrive London : 18:10

Flight time: 1hr
Carrier: British Airways BA1403

Depart London Heathrow:

  • Depart Heathrow: 21:10
  • Flight Time: 12:05
  • Arrive Johannesburg: 10:15(+1)

Flight time: 13hr 05
Carrier: British Airways BA57

Return

Thursday 23rd March: Return Flight to UK
Transfer from Fugitive's Drift to Johannesburg.

Depart Johannesburg: 

  • Depart Johannesburg: 21:15
  • Arrive Heathrow: 05:24 (+1)

Flight time: 9hr 09
Carrier: British Airways BA55

Depart London Heathrow:

  • Depart Heathrow: 10:20
  • Arrive Manchester: 11:30

Flight time: 1hr 10
Carrier: British Airways BA1390

Flight times are the latest known and are subject to confirmation from the airline. All flight times are local time (BST+1).

March Weather

Average Temperatures
24 C° high
14 C° low
Average Rainfall
100 mm / month
12 days / month
Average Sunshine
9 hours / day

Useful Information

Currency: South African Rand (ZAR). £1 will get you (roughly) 19.81 Rand, with the average price for a cup of coffee in South Africa being 24R. There are ample ATMs in Johannesburg, but cash machines are generally quite few and far between in the Drakensberg Mountains and Kwazulu National Park. Your best option for exchaning money is do so beforehand and find a exhange office or bank that can offer a good rate. Otherwise, similar to the prevalence of ATMs, you will find plenty of opportunities to exchange money in Johannesberg, but not so much in the National Parks.

Language: Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans are the most widely spoken languages in south Africa, though it's very likely that you'll be able to converse in English (it's the fourth most popular language with over 4 million speakers). However, you may find it difficult to communicate in English with anyone outside of the tourism or hospitality trade.

Timezone: We'll be travelling during Greenwich Mean Time, where South Africa is an hour ahead of the UK.

How Fit Do I Need to Be? Walks in the Drakensberg mountains shouldn't present problems to anyone of reasonable fitness, but they are not suitable for anyone low on stamina, or who require close assistance. Hiking over hills requires a certain level of fitness different to city tours, and we ask that you read the descriptions of our walking itineraries carefully to asses whether you are fit enough to truly enjoy the guided routes we have planned.

These holidays are group events, we can cater to a range of comfort levels while out on the path, but we generally find that you are more likely to get the most out of these tours if you’re at a good level of fitness prior to your departure.

Dressing for the South African Climate/Terrain: Reliable footwear, capable of supporting you over ascents, descents and less-than-even terrain is a must, with lightweight layers appropriate for higher altitudes, to be taken on and off where necessary. We visit in spring, with long, bright days ideal for hiking excursions.

Power Plugs and Sockets in South Africa: Wall outlets use a three rounded-pin plug. Purchasing a travel adapter prior to travel will fetch you a better deal overall.

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Langdale Walking Holidays is a trading name of Celtic Trails Ltd, A company registered in England and Wales under number 07736096. Registered Address: 5 Ashweir Court, Tintern, Wales, NP16 6SE, GB | Tel: 01291 639697 | VAT No. GB901053773 | Our business hours are 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Monday to Friday.
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