Drakensberg

In Scotland the mountains above 3000ft (914m) are referred to as the Munros. This concept is well understood and people take on the challenge of climbing all of the 284 Munros that are currently listed. A similar concept in the South Africa are the Khulus, the peaks above 3000m, of which there are more than 160. All of them are in the Drakensberg range. The name is the Zulu word for “big” - an apt description of these peaks. The first list was compiled by Cliff Murch, published in the Mountain Club of South Africa Journal 1994. Unfortunately Murch committed suicide in 1996 and never continued his pursuit and research of the Khulus. We value his contribution and take on his challenge to know and climb them.

This article focuses on the illegal smuggling of firearms, marijuana and livestock across the border between South Africa and Lesotho that runs along the Drakensberg area of KwaZulu-Natal. In this area there are 57 mountain passes known for the smuggling of marijuana and livestock. 

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife reports that two visitors to the Royal Natal National Park section of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site died when they were caught in the flames of a runaway veld fire that had swept into the Park from across the Tugela River last week.

The most disturbing problems have happened at Giant's Castle. The problem is not just limited to petty theft, it extends to mugging, assault and rape. Campsites have literally been ambushed and hikers wounded. Furthermore people have also been held up and hijacked on the road leading in to the camp.

Troubled for many years, The Amphitheatre is probably the No. 1 hot spot for petty theft on the escarpment. The perpetrators are very aware of the habits of hikers in this area and have over many years persistently been stealing whateverthey can get their hands on: hiking boots and entire backpacks being first prize. 

This popular and majestic area of the Berg is certainly a must see, and not just once! However, visitors to the area will do well to be informed about the security issues there.

Sadly this mountain paradise does have a troubling history of cross-border drug trafficking & cattle rustling. Together with Basutho shepherds from Lesotho herding their livestock on the border, visitors to the Drakensberg are increasingly under threat.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff in the Giant's Castle section of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site report the rescue on Monday night 15 Janaury 2007 of two foreign visitors who became lost while hiking in the Park.

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