The Drakensberg - A Barrier of Spears

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

The towns that form the gateway to the Drakensberg, like so many other small towns in this part of KwaZulu-Natal, owe their existence to the railway line between Johannesburg and Durban which was laid in 1917. Although the railway line no longer plays a significant role in these towns, the region has gone on to become an important tourist hub as well as a significant commercial and farming district, and the towns that form part of the region have come into their own over the last few decades.

The towns and villages such as Himeville, Bergville and Winterton which dot the landscape have become popular stopovers for those en route to other destinations such as Sani Pass, the somewhat intimidating road that connects KwaZulu-Natal with Lesotho.

The Pass, which boasts spectacular scenery and can only be accessed by 4x4 vehicles, is well frequented by both national and international visitors. Originally a mule trail used to trade goods by those living in Lesotho, the route became accessible to the general public in 1955, when David Alexander started a tour company that conquered the pass using 4x4 vehicles he had seen in service during World War II. Apart from a visit to the highest pub in Africa at the Sani Pass Chalet, many of the tours on offer include visits to villages in the region, affording visitors a peek into typical African life in this beautiful part of Africa.

For the less adventurous, the quaint village of Himeville features the interesting Himeville Arms Country Hotel. Situated on the main road and nestled below the towering Drakensberg mountain range, the hotel with its Olde English charm has become a welcome pit stop for visitors to the Underberg region.

In terms of residential property transfers in Himeville, statistics reflect that a total of 12 transfers have taken place in the past 12 months. The average price paid for freehold property hovered around the R780 000 mark. According to recent statistic released by Lightstone, the highest price paid for a property in Winterton in the last 12 months was R1.2-million.

Surrounded by the majestic Champagne, Cathedral and Cathkin Peaks, the world famous Drakensberg Boys' Choir is housed just outside Winterton in the central Berg. The highly-regarded choir performs in countries throughout the world and, when not on tour, holds weekly concerts for visitors to the school. The town also plays host to an annual street carnival in July, where local artists, crafters and musicians showcase their talents along the town's main street which is closed to traffic for the entire day.

The entire region is, along with Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, regarded as a premier flyfishing destination. A walker’s paradise, the area has also become synonymous with Splashy Fen, the country's longest running music festival, which is held on a farm in Underberg each year. The event is attended by thousands of music lovers, who flock to the area to enjoy some of the best musical talent that South Africa has to offer.

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