The Drakensberg Experience area includes the northern and central Drakensberg, from the highest peaks which are exposed to extremes of high winds, high rainfall, snow and ice, to dry thornveld. The Drakensberg was declared a World Heritage site in 2000 for its rich diversity of plant and animal life, spectacular natural landscape and outstanding San (Bushman) rock paintings. The plants have been recognised as one of the world’s ‘hot spots’ of plant diversity of global botanical importance. There are over 500 bird species and a high proportion of species endemic to the area. It has one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of rock art with over 40 000 images recorded so far. There are a number of endemic chameleons and fishes.
The large animals most commonly seen in the Drakensberg are the Eland - a giant antelope, Mountain Reedbuck, Grey Rhebuck and Oribi. Jackal, Genet and Civet are not uncommon. Baboons are found throughout the mountain areas, with Vervet monkeys found at lower altitudes. In the savannah, you can visit areas with giraffe, lion, cheetah, hyena, buffalo, blue wildebeest and other antelope.
Famous around the world for its wild flowers, the Drakensberg offers wonderful wild flower displays (with 400 species found here and nowhere else in the world). Best times to enjoy them are when the rains have arrived – October/November when the Berg Bottlebrush (Greyia sutherlandii) is spectacular in bloom. January and February are the best months for the high altitude flowers and orchids – Agapanthus, Kniphofia (Red hot pokers - 15 species in the Drakensberg and Lesotho), Brunsvigias, Candelabra lilies, Nerines and River bells (Phygelius aequalis). Proteas, both trees and dwarf shrubs, can be found in bloom throughout the summer. Autumn brings a flush of the wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus) – a magnet for nectar loving birds. Tree ferns amaze, growing in wet spots in the grassland. Two types of forest are found in the area, Montane forest and Mistbelt forest where Yellowwoods (Podocarpus species) dominate. These forests offer the tree enthusiast a wide range of great forest trees and shrubs. The understorey is full of ferns, Streptocarpus, Begonias, Impatiens and Wild Iris.
EZEMVELO KZN WILDLIFE
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