Both Are Mountainous
But One Is Better
We recently made our first visit to the Central Drakensberg area (near Winterton) and enjoyed the stay immensely. On the map it’s further north than the Southern Berg (near Underberg) but we found it only requires about 30 kilometers more travel distance from Durban, and that’s if you take the long way. The roads are better, though, so travel time is about the same.
Besides the travel issues, we found it more inviting in every category than the Southern region. Both are interesting but Central more so.
Since both areas are remote, most things you buy will be more expensive so they’re equal in that sense, but two things made the Central Berg more accommodating.
One was the fact that everything is closer. In the Southern Berg you’ll travel about 20 kilometers to find any well stocked shops. There are only a few and all are located in Underberg. But wherever you stay in the Central area you’ll find everything you need within a stretch of 12 to 14 kilometres and more options too. Occasionally the prices are even reasonable.
We bought a really great slice of honey baked cheesecake at Scrumpy Jacks for R28.00!! It was completely homemade. My wife said it was more creamy than hers and she makes a highly sought after baked cheesecake! Scrumpy’s has a pet pig greets you with a snore as you approach the front door.
We bought fresh milk at the Thornhill farm for R7.00 a litre!! They offered fresh fruit and veggies at reasonable prices also. Thornhill is home to Hillbilly Cottages, which has received several favorable reviews.
A second benefit was the variety of wares, amenities and services. SaveRite Supermarket was immediately opposite Champagne Sports Resort. The SaveRite centre offered chocolates, cheeses, curios, real estate and more. Clothes, hand made items, jewelry, leather goods, spas, cycling, tours of all kinds, horse riding, hiking, hiking and more hiking were just minutes away.
Valley Bakery is only two kilometres away from SaveRite and is a popular spot for meals, baked items and a shop to browse. They have a playground for kids and an art gallery. Very pleasant setting.
There’s a reptile show and a bird show (Falcon Ridge) in the area. They are adjacent to one another on the R600 about 6 kilometres south of Champagne Sports.
To be honest, for R85 the bird show was a little disappointing. Seating faced into a severe sun, there were a limited number of birds and very little curio/food options to offer. Ashburton’s bird sanctuary (R70) offers a better show, more well informed staff and has many more birds to view. The show wasn’t terrible, just overpriced. And it’s there.
Thokosiza Restaurant and information centre (10 kilometres north of Champagne Sports) offered gift shops of all kinds and a very respectable looking restaurant. Well manicured. Very clean.
Best of all, and the reason we visited the area is the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School, a world class educational institution, offers student concerts on Wednesdays. Our friends have a son in the school and we decided to make a visit. Highly recommended!
We found comfortable self-catering accommodation on Travel Ground and there are several upmarket timeshares in the area. I’ll explain what’s nice about Berghaven in a different post.
Our visit was the end of May. We had cold weather at night, but not overbearingly cold, and warm weather by day. It was a bit dry for Durban folks but also quite tolerable.
Directions from Durban:
- On the N3 approximately 190 kilometers from the intersection of N2 and the N3 to exit number 194.
- Take exit 194, sign posted as R74/R103/Bergville and turn left onto R74.
- Travel approximately 22 kilometers to the R600 in Winterton.
- Turn left onto the R600 and travel approximately 20 kilometers depending on where you’re staying.
At that point you’re in the middle of the Central Drakensberg area. Wherever you stay, whatever you do, enjoy!!