Trip 3 Roadtripping through the high Drakensberg

Winona Griggs

My Amazing Adventure: Roadtripping Through the High Drakensberg

Have you ever heard of the Drakensberg? It’s not just about Champagne Castle and the Midlands Meander, there’s so much more to explore! In fact, there’s a higher and wilder Berg, perfect for an epic road trip. Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to team up with mural artist Giffy Duminy and Mazda to embark on an unforgettable adventure through the high Drakensberg.

When most people think of the Drakensberg, they imagine the lower Berg, the well-known area around Howick and Underberg. But this time, we wanted to see something different. Mazda and Giffy took us off the beaten path, deep into the lesser-explored regions around Phuthaditjhaba, Qwaqwa, and the Golden Gate National Park. Our mission was simple: to discover new roads, push the limits of the CX-30, and find the perfect spot to paint and celebrate the bearded vulture – an incredible bird that is not only native to this area but also sadly endangered.

Where can you find the high Berg?

But where exactly is the high Berg? Well, it’s the area above the escarpment. Imagine you’re standing in the Amphitheatre and you look up – that’s the high Berg. To reach this stunning location from Durban, you need to embark on a four-hour drive up the N3 to Harrismith. From there, take a left turn to Phuthaditjhaba, the capital city of the Qwaqwa region. Continue along the R712, and you’ll arrive at the Golden Gate National Park.

Now, if you want to experience the breathtaking views and the essence of the bearded vulture, you’ll need to venture to the edge of the escarpment. To get there, simply turn left again through Phuthaditjhaba and head towards Witsieshoek. This place is nestled on the precipice of the escarpment, offering an awe-inspiring experience.

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Discovering Witsieshoek and the remarkable world of the bearded vulture

As I made my way through the town, things really started to get interesting. This road trip has it all; the route takes you through stunning sandstone gorges, breathtaking emerald green valleys, and past awe-inspiring enormous buttresses. The CX-30, Mazda’s fantastic mid-sized crossover, is not only designed to comfortably transport four people and their luggage but also to provide an entertaining driving experience. And boy, does it deliver! The CX-30 handled the winding passes with ease, responding sharply and immediately to every twist and turn. It seemed to relish the challenges thrown its way, making the journey an absolute delight.

As I reached the end of the road, I found myself at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge, the only place to stay in the area. Situated right on the edge of the escarpment, the lodge offers breathtaking views that will leave you in awe. Our mission was to spot the magnificent bearded vulture, and luckily, Witsieshoek has a vulture feeding station, making it the perfect spot for this adventure. Once we found the vulture, we would then choose a location to create a stunning mural of this regal bird. If the weather cooperated, we might even have enough time to embark on a trek up to The Sentinel and continue on to witness the majestic Tugela Falls.

An impressive wall and a plethora of challenges await

Well, it was a bit disappointing that the birds and weather didn’t cooperate. I was hoping to see some vultures, but it turns out there’s a good reason they weren’t around. KwaZulu-Natal has had so much rain this year that everything is green. But, luckily, we caught a break and the clouds cleared long enough for Giffy to choose a wall and start working on his mural. It’s really impressive how he did it. You should check out the time-lapse sequence.

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A Fun Time at The Golden Gate National Park

While we were waiting, we took the opportunity to check out the road conditions. The road to the Sentinel carpark from the lodge was in pretty rough shape after all the rain. It was more like a bumpy goat track than a road. Definitely not a good idea to take the CX-30 up there. So, unfortunately, we had to find another place to have some fun. Luckily, we stumbled upon Golden Gate National Park, which is often overlooked. It’s like a hidden gem for people who love to drive. The network of roads there is absolutely stunning, and they’re all paved. The CX-30 handled those roads like a champ. Its solid construction meant that there were no weird noises or rattling. It was a bit sad when it was time to turn back and head to Witsieshoek to pick up Giffy and continue our journey to the coast.

The Fast Road Home

With the mural completed, my team and I made our way back to Durban. Unfortunately, we were running late, and we quickly realized that the planes were not going to wait for us. So, we had no choice but to put the CX-30’s touring capabilities to the test.

Let me tell you, the CX-30’s naturally aspirated, two-liter Skyactiv-X engine is truly something to behold. Mazda’s engineers have done an incredible job in creating an engine that not only delivers more torque than most two-liters, but also improves fuel efficiency. It was a revelation.

As we navigated the winding R713 and the bustling N3, we experienced effortless overtaking and a remarkably smooth and quiet high-speed cruising. The CX-30 truly proved itself to be a class act.

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When I landed at the airport, my final words were for Giffy. I said, “What an amazing strike mission into the Berg. I’ve always had a curious mind, and learning is so important to me. Throughout my travels, I’ve been fortunate enough to see some truly special places and even paint an epic wall. Living in this incredible country, I encourage you to get out there and explore. There is so much to enjoy.”

Competition (CLOSED)

Win an amazing weekend getaway with Mazda, Getaway, and Legacy Hotels and Resorts!

By following the Mazda Change Your View series, you had the chance to win a weekend getaway for four at Legacy Hotels and Resorts. All you had to do was indicate one of the three destinations featured in the Mazda Change Your View trips.

How to enter:

Simply list one of the three destinations from the Mazda Change Your View series and provide your name, address, and contact details. It was that easy!

The Amazing Prize

Guess what? You have the incredible opportunity to win a fantastic weekend getaway at the breathtaking Bakubung Bush Lodge, nestled in the mesmerizing Pilanesberg! Isn’t that exciting?

Trip 3 Roadtripping through the high Drakensberg

Hey there! I’ve got some great news for you. Wondering what the prize includes? Well, it covers your accommodation along with all the extras mentioned, and the best part is that it’s valid for up to four people!

But hold on, before you get super excited, I must mention that airfares and other travel expenses are not included. I know, it’s a bummer, but don’t let that dampen your spirits!

Now, I bet you’re wondering how long you have to enter the competition, right? Well, mark your calendar because the competition closes on March 11th, 2022. So, make sure you don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity!

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