Nestled directly at the foot of the high Drakensberg in the Champagne Valley, KwaZulu Natal, the Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort has been a South African camping favourite for decades. Only A 2.5-hour drive from Durban and 4 hours from Johannesburg, this facility has attracted adventurers from all over the nation, and it continues to be popular to the point of being fully booked over every busy season.
As explorers ourselves, Camp Master sent a team member out to see what all the fuss was about and give you an accurate, in person-review of what we thought of the spot. And trust us – we KNOW campsites.
To get to Dragon Peaks, you need to divert through the sleepy town of Winterton and then travel approximately 25 km through a gradually narrowing, steepening valley until you encounter the quaint mountain community of Champagne Valley.
The resort itself is located on the edge of the town closest to the towering Drakensberg mountain range, which in this area is dominated by the flat-topped peak of Champagne Castle. Sharing premises with the Drakensberg Boys Choir School, the Dragon Peaks campsite and caravan park are wonderfully maintained.
With rolling lawns and treed driveways in the main park, and then densely forested kloofs alternating with wide wildflower fields skirting the accommodations, you’re getting a visual feat from the moment you drive through the main entrance. Also on the premises are multiple dams that host a variety of activities for visitors. The resort is incredibly close to the Monks Cowl gate onto the Ezemvelo Drakensberg Wildnerness Area, from where a lot of the bigger high-berg hikes take place.
Dragon Peaks is the base camp for many mountaineers looking to summit Champagne Castle, which is widely regarded as one of this country’s most breathtaking multi-day hikes. Overall, the location is idyllic and rife with possibilities for the outdoor enthusiast.
Because this campsite is so established, it boasts a wide variety of facilities for visitors to use. From multiple large pools and a kiddies’ waterslide to a fully stocked grocery store and gift shop, one doesn’t really need to leave the campsite for anything after you’ve arrived if chilling is your Modus Operandi.
There’s even a restaurant and pub that has daily specials and hosts live music, as well as a large play area to keep the tots from getting in your hair when you’re trying to read your book in the sun. There are conferencing and wedding facilities on the premises, though, so we would advise phoning ahead when making your booking to avoid spending your entire holiday embroiled in the taffeta of someone else’s wedding party.
The bathrooms and kitchen facilities are well maintained and kept clean and tidy, even if the hot water takes a while to get going. One minor suggestion we would make would be to beef up the wi-fi at the campsite to extend beyond the reception, as it may mean more remote working tourists passing through the space more conveniently.
As we said above, this campsite has excellent proximity to some gorgeous overnight hikes, but the valley is packed with shorter hikes and day excursions for every fitness level, too. Just up the road from Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort is Falcon Ridge, a bird of prey sanctuary that hosts daily flight shows which are exhilarating for the whole family.
Directly adjacent to that is a small but interactive reptile park, for those in your party not too averse to creepy crawlies. If you’re an avid sportsman, Champagne Sports Resort is just up the road and offers world-class golfing, tennis, squash and hockey facilities.
There’s quad-biking, canopy tours and paintball in the valley, too, if extreme sports are more your speed. To wind down your day, it’s worth paying a visit to the Drakensberg Brewery and trying some of their beers – brewed right in the valley – with their generous tasting board.
There are ample activities offered by the resort and campsite, too. Guided horse-riding trails let you explore your surroundings from a much higher (and more neigh-y) vantage point. The dams are stocked with trout for sports fishing and canoes are available for a gentle afternoon paddle through the resort waterways.
There’s even a holiday entertainment program that runs in school to keep kids and teens entertained. This includes morning hikes at 9 AM, touch rugby during the day and a selection of evening activities such as bingo, pool and table-tennis competitions, facilitated and supervised closely by resort staff.
If you want to do something truly special, Dragon Peaks has an airfield from which they fly helicopter trips over the high berg. This is a pricey experience but after seeing the expressions on the faces of a few recently offloaded passengers, we’d warrant it’s worthwhile.
This campsite and caravan spot has everything you’re looking for in an outdoor adventure. It’s far enough from big cities that it feels like a holiday, but close enough that it’s not impossible to get to for a long weekend.
It’s nestled in nature enough that it feels like a reset but also not so isolated that you need to do massive amounts of gear prep and contingency planning – plus you can get an ice cream at the store when it’s swelteringly hot! The area has the right balance of hardcore outdoor activities for the avid adventurer, accessible fun for the family, and easygoing vibes for those that just want to chill out.
The Camp Master Team would highly recommend visiting the Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort, but you need to book way in advance because spots fill up fast. You can take a look at their website to learn more!
Before you go, make sure you’re stocked up on all the camping essentials you might need to enjoy a comfy, convenient time outside. Browse our NEW website catalogue to create your ultimate gear checklist with Camp Master.