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Natural Attractions

Our World Heritage Site – The Maloti Drakensberg Park (MDP)

The jewel of our district has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Declared in 1996, it is one of a handful of sites world-wide recognised for both its Natural and Cultural value to humanity. In UNESCO's own words: 

“The site has exceptional natural beauty in its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts as well as visually spectacular sculptured arches, caves, cliffs, pillars and rock pools. The site's diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally important plants. The site harbours endangered species such as the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). Lesotho’s Sehlabathebe National Park also harbours the Maloti minnow (Pseudobarbus quathlambae), a critically endangered fish species only found in this park.

This spectacular natural site contains many caves and rock-shelters with the largest and most concentrated group of paintings in Africa south of the Sahara. They represent the spiritual life of the San people, who lived in this area over a period of 4,000 years.”

Not only is it a World Heritage Site, but it has progressed to become one of southern Africa’s transnational parks with the inclusion of Sehlabathebe national park in Lesotho.

More about hikingMore about rock art

The Sani Pass

The only road pass between South Africa and Lesotho over the high escarpment of the KZN Drakensberg; the Sani Pass has become iconic in South Africa’s travel landscape.

Originating as a rough mule track, pioneers opened up the route to motor vehicles and brought access to the eastern Lesotho Highlands. Starting from Himeville (1550m above sea level), the route traverses through farmland before entering the MDP at the site of the old Good Hope Trading Store ruins. Here the Mkomazana River valley narrows and the new tarred road follows the valley climbing steadily through sandstone buttresses and rich grasslands to reach the South African border post (around 1900m). To proceed beyond this point, visitors require a passport and a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Beyond the South African border post, the road becomes a rough gravel surface with very steep gradients in places. A number of pull off points allow for spectacular photo stops and in winter, the frozen waterfall on the final zig-zags provide a spectacular scene.

The summit of the Pass is at 2874m where South Africa ends and you reach the Lesotho Border Post. From here, the road is tarred all the way to Mokhotlong and across the “roof of Africa” route to the west of the country and the border posts to the eastern Free State.

More about the Sani Pass

Historical Attractions

Himeville Museum

The last laager/fort built in South Africa was completed in 1899.

It never saw military action and was converted to a prison complex from 1902 to 1971. Half the building now houses the Magistrate’s Court and the other half is an acclaimed rural history museum with a furnished house and varied displays in the old prison cells. These include displays on Rock Art, trout fishing, a school room, post office and others.

One of the best small museums in the country and well worth a visit.

Himeville Museum

Reichenau Mission

Reichenau was the first mission of Mariannhill Monastery in KwaZulu-Natal.

It was established in 1886 by Catholic Trappist monks under the leadership of Abbott Francis Pfanner. Situated on the Pholela River in the foothills of the Drakensberg World Heritage site near Underberg, the mission is well worth a visit. It boasts a water-driven mill which is fully operational and uses all the original machinery.

Guided tours are available as is accommodation.

Reichenau Mission

Centocow Mission

Centocow is another mission of the Marianhill Monastery founded in 1888, when Abbot Pfanner purchased a small farm on the western bank of the Umzimkulu River, in the Creighton district.

The abbot named the new station after the famous Polish shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The name of the mission was phonetically simplified into Centocow. The Mission boasts a museum in the old church building housing the work of world acclaimed artist, Gerard Bhengu as well early photographs taken by the Trappist monks.

Centocow Mission