The Tugela River runs through it!

The Royal Natal Nature Reserve is one of the 12 protected areas that make up the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park that is in turn the one half of the Maloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, the other half being the Sehlathebe National Park in Lesotho over the South African border.

The Royal Natal Nature Reserve is situated in the Drakensberg Mountains in the central region of the Drakensberg Mountains and is classified as the Drakensberg alti-montane grasslands and woodlands eco-region. It is situated on the R74, 36 km West of Bergville, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.


The animals found in this area are mostly hoofed animals such as:

  • Eland
  • Klipspringer
  • Maloti/Drakensberg minnow (Oreodaimon zuathlambae), which was thought to be extinct, is found at the Tsoelikana River on the Lesotho side of the Maloti /uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park
  • Mountain Reedbuck


250 species of birds have been observed in this reserve:


  • Buff-streaked Chat
  • Bush Blackcap
  • Drakensberg Siskin
  • Mountain Pipit


  • Orange-breasted Rock-jumper
  • Rudd’s Lark
  • Yellow-breasted Pipit

Globally threatened species

  • Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres VU)
  • The Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus VU)
  • Wintering Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni VU)


  • Hiking and Walks
  • Horse riding
  • Mountaineering 
  • Picnicking
  • Swimming
  • Trout Fishing - at Mahai and Thukela rivers and the Mahai Dam
  • Tugela Falls trail - a 7 km hike through the forests to the foot of the Tugela Falls
  • Vehicle drive route


  • Tugela Falls - located between Lesotho on the west and KwaZulu-Natal East in the east
  • Mont-Aux-Sources Plateaux - is the source of five of South Africa’s major rivers namely; the Elands River that flows into the Vaal River, the Khudeda and Singa rivers that flow into the Gariep (Orange) River in the Free State and the Tugela and Bilanjil that flow into Natal
  • Chain Ladder - consists of two sections of 50 rungs each, on the last part of the climb to the Amphitheatre summit. It has been said that this hike is not to be attempted by people who have a fear of heights
  • Queens Causeway- is a board-walk running along the Mahai river that accommodates wheel chairs
  • uKhahlamba Drakensburg Amphitheatre - a 5 km long rock wall formation that is 500 m high, over which the Tugela River cascades


Thendele Camp

This camp has been designed to afford the visitor a tranquil view of the Amphitheatre from every chalet.

Thendele Lower Camp

Fully equipped self-catering chalets all facing the Amphitheatre, consisting of:

  • Two units with 2 beds each 
  • Five units with 4 beds each

Thendele Upper Camp:

Fully equipped self- catering chalets all facing the Amphitheatre, consisting of:

  • Six units 2 beds each 
  • Seven units with 4 beds each

Thendele Lodge

There is only one lodge in the park and it accommodates up to 6 people of the same party only:

  • Cooks available
  • Kitchen and large living area with fireplace
  • Outdoor braai/barbeque facilities
  • Three en-suite bedrooms
  • Two single beds in each bedroom


There are only two units available in the park with:

  • Cooks available
  • Three bedroom units with six beds in each

Mahai Camp

Mahai has 80 large camp-sites dotted along the Mahai River with the following facilities:

  • Dish washing facilities
  • Flush toilets
  • Hot baths and showers
  • Laundry machines
  • Neat and modern ablution blocks



  • Summer (October to March)  05h00 - 22h00
  • Winter (April to September)   06h00 - 22h00

  • Contact details

    Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Reservation

    P O Box 13069
    Tel: +27 33 845 1000
    Tel: +27 36 438 6411
    Fax: +27 33 845 1001
    Email Website