Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blast from the Past - Champagne Castle 1981

Champagne Castle, nestled in the central region of the magnificent Drakensberg Range in Kwazulu/Natal in South Africa. It is in the "Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park” containing soaring basaltic buttresses - A barrier of spears, resting on golden sandstone – the “Little Berg”

First climbed by a Major Grantham in 1861. The story is that someone in the party fell and broke a bottle of champagne that was intended for imbibition on the summit.

The park is one of the richest rock painting areas in the world and about 30,000 individually painted images in 520 different rock shelters have been recorded. These were painted by the San people who no longer inhabit this area.

The Drakensberg escarpment forms a border with the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, which lies beyond the high cliffs to the west. They are said to be JRR Tolkien's inspiration for the notorious mountains of Mordor. Tolkien was born nearby in Bloemfontein located in The Orange Free State.

Wildlife abounds here with eland and occasional glimpses of blesbuck, oribi, mountain reedbuck and duiker. Baboons roam the lower slopes. Snakes are common and caution is needed in order to avoid a potentially fatal bite.

Plants and flowers, such as the cycads and Protea are found here and fields full of the colorful Cosmos will dazzle the eye.

This peak can be climbed in one very long day for those who are in a hurry. I recommend taking at least four days. Two days in…two days out. Give yourself time to enjoy this remarkable area.

The photos are old and have faded over the years, please be kind!

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