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In the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park

Hikers who want to stay overnight in the mountains must book their huts and caves through the eZemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife office closest to the trail (tel. 033/8451000; www.kznwildlife.com); the camps below are the best bases for walking -- hikes start literally from your front door. Note: Have your entry fee ready: R25 per adult and R13 per child for all the parks.

Cathedral Peak has a comfortable good-value alternative; KZN Wildlife developed Didima Camp, the most "modern" of the official parks camps, in 2002, with each of the 63 comfortably outfitted two-bed chalets vaguely shaped to resemble a cave (from R840 double for two adults, depending on chalet type). There are also two self-catering four-bed chalets and a three-bedroom lodge; all units are equipped with satellite TV and fireplaces. There is also a restaurant, bar, and lounge, as well as a San Art Interpretive Centre.

If you decide to visit the Ardmore Studio (on the R600, which leads to Champagne Castle), stop at Thokozisa Restaurant, Deli & Information Centre, 13km (8 miles) from Winterton (tel. 036/488-1827), for a light meal made with organic produce. A little farther is the oldest of all the Berg resorts, The Nest (tel. 036/468-1068), where filling food (roasts, cottage pie) is served in a rather fusty atmosphere. For overnight stays in Champagne Valley, the old-fashioned Champagne Castle Hotel (tel. 036/468-1063; www.champagnecastlehotel.co.za; also off the R600; R660-R990, depending on the room type and season) is closest to the mountains and enjoys the best views, though it's nowhere as remote or charming as Cathedral Peak.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.