Riding High
A Helicopter Ride Over Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg

© Roger de la Harpe
A helicopter ride over the Drakensberg mountain range is a superb way to experience the highest mountain range in southern Africa.Southern Africa's high mountain range, the Drakensberg rises to a height of 3 482 metres (11 424 feet) and span across 1 000 kilometres covering areas in KwaZulu Natal, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Lesotho, Swaziland and Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province.There are many ways to explore the Drakensberg. One can go hiking, horse riding, quad biking, 4X4ing and even mountain biking and the different sections of the mountain each offer something unique.Exploring the mountains on foot is the most traditional way of navigating the various peaks and hikers and mountain climbers flock here each year to take on the challenge of at least one of the multitude of trails available.But we are here were looking for something a little different. A unique way of experiencing the towering peaks that surrounded us, and we found that experience at Cathedral Peak Hotel in the central region of the Drakensberg.On a bright and sunny day we walked out of the hotel and up the path towards the heli-pad. The anticipation and excitement was so huge that I felt like I might take off on my own from where I was standing.We met Blake our pilot and he explained the journey and the safety procedures to us before we climbed into the helicopter and strapped ourselves in. Putting headphones and microphones on we soon realised their value as afaint hum got louder and louder as the blades started moving.Expecting a jolt or a sudden movement forward it was with surprise that I looked down out of the window and noticed that we were already hovering a few feet off of the ground. The rise was almost unnoticeable and soon we were dipping and twisting, weaving and winding our way up, up, up towards the higher peaks.

The panoramic view of the scenery and landscape stretched out before you is breath-taking. Settling in to enjoy the experience I cannot help but gasp as we rise up and suddenly over a peak, and my stomach does a weird flip.

With a massive grin on my face we fly above a waterfall and past a troop of Baboons far below us. Hovering just above the clouds we then drop down and follow the length of a gorge, watching the grasses wave at us as the wind from the propellers causes them to stir.

All too soon our 20 minutes is over and it is time for us to return to the base and touch back down to ground. Climbing out of the helicopter my legs wobble a little, testing the stability of the ground below me. Managing to catch my breath as the excitement courses through my veins, I look up at the mountains surrounding me and can hardly believe that I was flying above them just a few seconds ago!By Katie Edge
KwaZulu-Natal Hotel Accommodation
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