Drakensberg is a major escarpment of South Africa, stretching for hundreds of miles along the southeastern edge of the vast interior plateau. The Zulus call the range Khuahlamba, The Barrier of Pointing Spears. For much of their length , the mountains are capped by a 4,500 foot thick layer of basaltic lava, which has been heavily eroded over the centuries, leaving a bewildering assortment of rugged blocks and pinnacles. Erosion has caused the isolation of many free-standing rock peaks, excellent for rock climbing.
The highest peaks and most spectacular scenery are found in a compact area along the 60-mile boundary between Lesotho and Natal provinces. Here crags and pinnacles tower above sandstone foothills and rolling grasslands. Lesotho is a wilderness of tumbled mountains, deep river valleys, and towering waterfalls. The highest waterfall plunges 630 feet (compared to Niagara's 160 feet). Some of the more popular climbing peaks are Mont-aux-Sources (10,768 ft/3,282 m), Monk's Cowl (10,611 ft./3,234 m), and Cathedral Peak (9,856 ft./3,004 m.).
The lower layers of the range are cave sandstone, and the many caves once provided dwellings for South Africa's earliest human inhabitants. Spectacular wall-paintings adorn many of the caves today. The name Drakensberg, literally Mountain of the Dragon, originates in an ancient legend of a cave-dwelling dragon.
There is much wildlife in Drakensberg, including eland, baboon and leopard. The mountains are typically covered with snow and ice in Winter.
Though not part of the Drakensberg range, several spectacular rock summits dot the landscape of the south coast, most notably Table Mountain (3,566 ft.), which forms the dramatic backdrop of Cape Town.