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Maloti-Drakensberg Park

South AfricaDrakensberg & Midlands


Maloti-Drakensberg Park 

The incredible scenic Maloti-Drakensberg Park is a transnational property that includes South Africa's uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park and Lesotho's Sehlathebe National Park. The site's soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks and golden sandstone walls, as well as aesthetically beautiful sculptured arches, caves, cliffs, pillars and rock pools, have extraordinary natural beauty. The site's diverse ecosystems help to safeguard a large number of indigenous and globally significant plants, it is also home to endangered animals like the Cape and Bearded Vultures.

The Maloti minnow, a highly endangered fish species found only in Sehlabathebe National Park in Lesotho lives here. This magnificent natural site has numerous caves and rock shelters, as well as Africa's largest and most concentrated collection of paintings south of the Sahara. They depict the San people's spiritual lives during their 4,000-year presence in this area.

The Maloti-Drakensberg Park range of mountains is Southern Africa's primary water-production area. The escarpment that forms the watershed for two of Southern Africa's main drainage basins has a drainage divide along the international border between the two countries. The Thukela River flows eastward into the Indian Ocean from the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. The southern Maloti-Drakensberg rivers, which include Sehlabathebe National Park, drain into the Senqu/Orange River, which flows westwards into the Atlantic Ocean. The extension of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site to include Sehlabathebe National Park adds special hydrologic qualities to the area.

The property includes shelters housing an estimated 690 rock art sites, with the number of individual images in those sites likely exceeding 35,000. The pictures portray animals and humans and represent the San people's spiritual life, expressing an unusually unified tradition that spans millennia and embodies their beliefs as well as cosmology. There are additional rock art paintings attributed to Bantu speaking people dating from the nineteenth and twentieth century.

The property, which stretches along much of KwaZulu-south-western Natal's border with Lesotho, is a key sanctuary for more than 250 indigenous plant species and their related wildlife. It also contains almost all of the province's remaining subalpine and alpine vegetation, as well as significant high altitude wetlands over 2,750 m, and is a RAMSAR site. The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park is a major element of the Lesotho Highlands Endemic Bird Area and has been designated as an Important Bird Area.

The Maloti-Drakensberg Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. (Source UNESCO)


  • South AfricaDrakensberg & Midlands

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