The well named World’s View hike offers expansive views of the Drakensberg. Pack your camera to capture the 360-degree view from the top. By Hlengiwe Magagula
“Is this the way to the World’s View hike?” Audrey Towner and Rémy Prévost, a couple visiting from Quebec City, Canada, had just arrived at the picnic area of Giant’s Castle resort when we crossed paths.
I could not only confirm that they were at the correct starting place, but with a sweep of my hand I showed them the whole walk. Beneath us, the crossing of the Bushman’s River via Bannerman’s timber bridge and the zig-zag of the initial ascent. Then the contour-hugging path that rose through grasslands to a distant plateau – look for the eland there, I told them – before skirting distinctive Sugarloaf Kop. Finally, the short scramble to the 1,842m peak called World’s View, shimmering in the haze two hours’ walk away.
A splendid backdrop for exploration
We chatted for a while, swapping notes on our Drakensberg exploration. Audrey said they’d come from hiking in Royal Natal National Park and she was more than impressed with the contrasting landscape of Giant’s Castle. Like the northern Drakensberg, this central section has the splendid backdrop of the escarpment, a 3,000m wall of jagged rock to the west. With thickets confined to ravines and valley floors, the mountain slopes have an aspect of endless openness, carpeted with wildflowers and studded with erratic boulders. Up here, eland have few hiding places, and even baboons stand out.
The Canadians had only nice things to say about the mountains and rest camps, but the gravel road conditions were a different story. I made sympathetic noises – I had just been at Injisuthi, and the access road outside the Maloti-Drakensberg park zone was like a field. Thankfully I was driving a borrowed VW Amarok, so was well cushioned from the corrugations. Automatic transmission was a bonus, taking the stress away on the winding gravel roads.
SA’s greatest natural reservoir
Together, we soaked up the view, the V-shaped side valleys lit in alternating shades of greens and browns. I was able to explain the reason for these varied shades. As in the rest of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park, humans have stepped in to bring order to the natural cycle of fires. Each winter selected blocks are burned in controlled conditions. Leaving it to nature is too risky – dense old dry clumps of grass ignited by lightning can burn out of control.
What’s more, matting prevents rainfall from reaching the ground to soak down. The Drakensberg wetlands are South Africa’s greatest natural reservoir, and in these times of multi-year drought the rivers are a beauty to behold, crystal waters teeming with brown trout, begging for a summer swim.
I left the visitors as they applied their sun-block, content to have the Worlds View’s trail to just to themselves and the wildlife.
Need to know for World’s View hike
This 12km there-and-back hike is moderately strenuous. Allow 4-5 hours for the return trip.
Hikers are required to sign in to (and out of) the mountain rescue register at reception. A detailed map showing hiking routes can be purchased here.
Pick up the World’s View trail from the picnic spots by the day visitor parking area.
Be sure to pack a camera to capture panoramic photos of the views.
Read more: Follow Hlengiwe’s adventures in the Drakensberg in Wild summer 2019/2020.