There is no necessarily correct typology, just points of view which demand, command, attention. Like the blind men touching their small part of the elephant, everyone is “correct” when they say I know what an elephant feels like, but no one is “complete”. To know the Dragon’s Mountains completely is to know it from all sides.
Most of our clients are people from highly developed countries. They may never have considered that what they had previously experienced as ‘nature’ in their own countries is actually ‘countryside’. Outside their towns and cities is a landscape changed by man in many ways, either by commercial farming, or by the ‘landscaping’ associated with rural development, with many exotic trees and plants, fences, fields, roads, cell phone towers, telephone and power lines. Most are unable to get away from the constant sound of cars and aircraft.
Few have had the rare privilege of spending time in a true pristine wilderness environment totally untouched by man.
Most of the Drakensberg World Heritage Site is wilderness. Within a short time one can be in a completely timeless landscape, still looking exactly as it would have looked long before humans walked the planet. As it is now generally accepted that humans evolved in Africa, it may not be too far-fetched to consider it as a remnant of the ‘Garden of Eden’.
The majority of our clients have never tasted unpolluted water straight out of a stream or river, or experienced complete natural silence. The realisation of the deep meaning of this can produce a kind of spiritual euphoria, and a new awareness of how we as humans are linked to what is left of nature.
As a fifteen year old schoolgirl commented on one of our trips ‘I have realised that we do not look after nature, nature looks after us’.
It also stirs in me the idea that the Berg and Lesotho are actually so strongly related that they are arguably one and the same mountain range. In many minds they are seen as separate. Looking at a satellite image its pretty obvious that there is a mass of related mountains out there. And why we call the lower bit of mountain branching off at Sentinel up into northern Natal, forming part of the "great escarpment", the Drakensberg is also beyond me. The mountains North of Sentinel, often referred to as the "Malutis" is 100% Berg to me. Its very obvious. At Metjhatijane, the escarpment takes a dramatic turn into Lesotho, and the "cliffs" are actually now in Lesotho, this continues through to Mafika Lisiu Pass and a bit further...only then does it become the Thaba Putsoa range which is more ridge-like than it is cliff-like.
So, if the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains are seen as one, the "cliffs of Natal" are put into perspective as simply being one aspect of a very interesting set of mountains.
It is a goal of VE to raise awareness of the entire Maloti-Drakensberg region, and to promote Lesotho for what it is - a delightful yet undervalued tourist destination. Watch this space.
Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.