Winterton & Bergville
Northern Drakensberg, South Africa
The pretty town of Winterton serves, quite literally, as the gateway to the central Drakensberg some 14 kilometres away, and lies in the foothills of these towering giants, a typical pioneer settlement and one of the largest villages in this area.
Almost every lodge and venue in the vicinity describes itself in relation to Winterton and the Mzansi Experience - a hop-on hop-off facility for independent travellers through South Africa - which drops off travellers in the town, on average three times a week. This part of the ‘berg is dominated by the Champagne, Cathedral and Cathkin peaks, with hiking trails, trout and bass fishing, San rock art, horse riding and hang-gliding the main attractions to the area.
The village of Winterton plays host to an annual street carnival in July, when local artists, crafters, musicians and companies serving the tourist industry congregate on the main street, which is closed for the day, to showcase the town, which up until now has acted as a base for the surrounding farming community but is increasingly becoming involved in tourism.
There are a number of museums and monuments worth a visit in and around Winterton, including the Marianne Church ruins. Named after the wife of the Dutch Reformed Minister, Dr Faure, they are located on the farm Doveton, just outside Winterton.
The Winterton Museum on Church Street has a display on the history of farming in the area, including a unique gallery of San paintings. And the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir, based in the central Drakensberg, performs concerts mid week and over weekends.
Cathedral Peak Nature Reserve is arguably the most impressive section of the Central berg and is easily accessed from Amphitheatre Backpackers for the day, the scenic drive to the entrance gate is stunning. The Peak itself is also known as Mponjwana (Little Horn) by the local Amangwane people because of its distinctive shape. In its shadow the Mlambonja River flows through the valley where “Ndedema Gorge” is home to the LARGEST indigenous forest in the Drakensberg.
Abseiling also called "rappelling" is a controlled descent off a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope. When we take people ROCK CLIMBING we use this technique to descend back down to ground level. If time/ budget is limited this is a great activity as it gives the novice a sense of what real rock climbing is all about. We offer a 30 meter releasable abseil off Pocolane peak, situated on a subsection of Royal Natal called Pocolane Nature Reserve. This is an easy activity all round.
The Amphitheater is the most famous geographic feature of the Okhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site and is widely regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on Earth. It's basalt wall is over 5km in length and the Tugela River - which plunges almost 1 km down its facade - is the 2nd highest waterfall on the planet, and the highest in Africa. The Amphitheater has cliffs rising approximately 1,220 meters along its entire length. It usually takes 2 - 3 days for the hike.