DRAKENSBERG, SOUTH AFRICA 2016
January 9-25, 2016
Leader: Callan Cohen
Tour Manager: David Haselgrove
Cost: £4,200 per person
South Africa’s rugged Drakensberg Mountains form the spine of the eastern part of the country and have a completely different flora from the Cape that lies over 1,500km away on the south-west coast.
The elevated Drakensberg escarpment, with its dramatic basalt cliffs overlooking sandstone valleys, lies at about 3,000m above sea level and is home to true alpine vegetation. It’s from these heights that early explorers brought hardy plants back to Europe which have subsequently flourished in cultivation, including species of Agapanthus, Dierama, Eucomis, Nerine, Gladiolus, Moraea, Phygelius, Galtonia and Kniphofia (above), and which will be a focus of our tour. The mountains also have a high diversity of orchids, including Satyrium, Holothrix, Eulophia, Disa, Pterygodium, Brownleea and the special genus Huttonea, with its fimbriate lips, which is found only in this area.
Midsummer is the peak flowering season and we’ll also watch out for pollinators, from sunbirds to the mountain beauty (Aeropetes tulbaghia) butterfly.
This tour will focus on the different altitudes, rainfall zones and geologies to get the most from this area. We’ll explore from the northern areas of the Drakensberg around the Sentinel Peak, through to the Sani Pass and the Lesotho plateau, known for its sweeping views and bushmen’s paintings.
Most of our exploration will take place from famous passes and the walking effort will be easy to moderate, with the option of a longer walk at the Sentinel in search of ‘specials’.