Ranging from forest green countryside to rocky peaks and fading yellows, Royal Natal National Park, South Africa, is truly a piece of paradise in this world.
This national park is known for the red rock formations that look mesmerizing in the golden sunshine.
It is nestled in the mountainous range of KwaZulu-Natal’s northern side and is loaded with hiking trails. So, if you want to know more about this park, let’s check out the information!
Royal Natal National Park – The Location
Located in the northern Drakensberg, the park is only three hours away from Durban, while it’s four hours away from Johannesburg and it is bordered by Lesotho.
In addition, you can drive to Bergville, which is only a one-hour drive on the eastern side.
The park is home to Mont-aux-Sources, which is one of the biggest peaks in the country, and also has Tugela Falls, which is the second-highest waterfall.
There are thick forests in the park that pays homage to various hiking trails, while there are babbling brooks carving the park.
Take a better look on Google maps and click on the picture below to see it’s exact location!
The Hiking Trails
It is needless to say that the hiking trails are carved through the thick forests, and there are rivers and cliff tops (breathtaking mountains!) in the natural ecosystem.
So, if you want to enjoy the nature in its true form, it’s important to opt for hiking trails, and we are sharing some of the best ones.
Just a little reminder though when you go hiking, make sure to pack some basic stuff. These are not safari’s,but still you need to forsee things like enough water, sunscreen, first aid kit, good solid hiking boots, etc!
The Amphitheatre Trail
For people who want to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the Tugela Falls, there is nothing better than the Amphitheatre trails as you can reach the top of the Tugela Falls.
The valley is home to the mossy green texture that can be seen in the furrows and folds of the cliff.
In addition, as you move forward, there are never-ending fields of golden grass. While it’s a great hiking trail, remember that it can be extremely demanding, so make sure you are physically active and healthy.
Have a look at the video below to see how hard it can get ! 😉
The Tugela Gorge Hike
These are the most popular hikes in this national park and will show you the sights from up and above.
The hike passes through the lush and thick forests, along with the zigzagging of the Tugela River – you will surely enjoy the river’s water splashing on your face.
The hiking trail ends at a tunnel and shows the crystal-clear water from the downstream, and you might be able to check out some rocks, so don’t forget to hop on them.
Check out the next beautifull video on this hiking trail
There are small trails for intrepid hikers, and there is a chain ladder as well, but there might be a few spider webs, so keep it together.
If you like this hike, it’s important to start the day earlier because you want to be out before the gate closes. In fact, the summertime might have some rainfall, so pack the right shoes and pack an umbrella in your bag pack.
This is one of the best choices for people who would like a relaxed hiking experience because this trail has an easy and flat walk and passes along the Mahai River.
In addition, there are grass-based clearings and some arched bridges that are too delicate and seem right out of fairy tales.
This trail goes up to McKinlay’s Pools, making it perfect for people who don’t mind wandering around. In addition, there are various activities that you can try out.
And yes, we do have another video on this trail haha:
When it comes down to staying in Royal Natal National Park in South Africa, people are often concerned about accommodation issues.
To begin with, there is a Thendele Camp available with self-catering chalets available and shows the panoramic views of the Amphitheatre cliff – who doesn’t like such a mesmerizing breakfast view.
On the other hand, if you are want to go camping, there are two camping grounds available, such as Rugged Glen Camp (it’s a small and secluded option, making it suitable for people who want privacy) and Mahai Campground (it is located just beside the river).
There are more than 140 campsites available, and many of them have washing facilities and BBQ facilities – you might be lucky to find some powered spots as well.
Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge
In case you don’t mind going a bit outside the park, there is Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, which is a 30-minute drive from the entrance gate of the park.
This lodge is located in a grassy area and has stunning views of the mountains, and it’s also pretty affordable.
The lodge is known for its quirky décor, and the overall facilities are pretty amazing. For instance, there is a BBQ area, restaurant, bar, guest kitchens, and Jacuzzi available.
Berghouse & Cottages
If you want something closer to the entrance of the park, you can opt for Berghouse & Cottages which is a great choice for people who want something advanced and upmarket.
The cottage has a stunning location that shows the direct views of the Amphitheatre. The lodges are designed with private and aesthetically appealing chalets, and you can also get decent meals.
I will get more into details about this place to stay later!
In the meantime, you can take a look at the video below:
Traveling can be expensive, and if you are looking for something affordable, nothing can beat the Karma Backpackers.
It’s located in Kestell and is a hostel – it is just an hour of drive from the Amphitheatre hike.
The rooms are colorful and bright, which looks amazing with the natural and green scenery.
Planning The Trip To Royal Natal National Park In South Africa
Royal Natal National Park’s entrance fee is around R40, which makes around $3 for one person and has to be paid at the gate at once.
The entrance gate also has signs with closing times, so make sure you leave on time to reach the parking area unless you are staying in a camp within the park, such as Thendele Camp.
There is a visitor center at the Royal Natal National Park, which shows the miniature-sized park model and also shows the hiking trails.
From the same place, you can purchase brochures for every hike available in the park.
In case you are opting for an individual trip, you need to stock up on your food and other essential supplies because there are no big departmental stores around.
However, there is a souvenir shop available for some basic supplies but don’t expect something huge.
On top of everything, if you have a sweet tooth, you can visit The Outspan, which is the most amazing café and bakery that offers scrumptious desserts, milkshakes, and muffins – they also serve biltong, and the variety of chili is nothing less than perfection.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to indulge in the tiring hiking experience, it’s best to visit the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve.
In addition, you can visit the Golden Gate Highlands National Park because it has caves, hiking trails, rock art, and waterfalls – it’s a perfect choice for people who don’t like the mountains.
Tips To Visit Royal Natal National Park In South Africa
- The park is categorized into two different sections, including the Thendele Hutted Camp and Mahai campsite.
- There is a car park available around the camping sites and the entrance gate. However, there are many other factors that you need to consider, such as;
- The summers are incredibly cool, and the winters are colder.
The summer season has regular thunderstorms in the afternoon, but the lightening will be dangerous, so start your day early (it’s best to stay inside during the afternoon)
- There is a basic and small shop available at the Thendele Hutted Camp and the reception of Royal Natal National Park, so you won’t have a problem finding the essentials.
- The gate is open all around the day to accommodate the overnight guests. However, the hours are 05:00 to 19:00 for day visitors during October and March.
- On the other hand, the winter season ranges from April to September, and the time range is from 06:00 to 18:00.
Even when the reception is closed when you reach, they will leave the keys for collection.
What is the opening time for Royal Natal National Park?
The hours are 05:00 to 19:00 for day visitors during October and March. On the other hand, the winter season ranges from April to September, and the time range is from 06:00 to 18:00. However, the entrance gate will have the closing time mentioned.
How long does it take to climb Mont aux Sources?
Mont aux Sources is one of the highest climbs in South Africa and it takes a 2 to 3-day trek. More about this later.
How was Royal Natal National Park formed?
This park was already there in 1916, but after the British Royal Family visited in 1947, it got its current name
It is actually not a South African National Park but administered as a provincial park by KwaZulu-Natal Parks.
What is so special about Royal Natal National Park?
Well, as I said before, it has quite spectacular scenery and amazing mountain trails, which explore the heart of the Kwazulu-Natal nature reserve.
What happened to the Royal Natal National Park Hotel?
This hotel closed its doors in 2000, despite the spectacular views of the mountains, and is now in a vandalized state and hidden behind a forest of rank vegetation. No more happy days at this hotel!
Can you drive to Tugela Falls?
If you want to see the Tugela Falls, the best way is to drive to the Sentinel Car Park, which is only about 25 minutes from Witsieshoek, and then you can hike the rest.
There are chain ladders, but they are safe.
What is the best time to visit Royal Natal National Park?
It is suggested to visit Royal Natal National Park during the summer season, particularly when there is rainfall. The recommended visiting months are from March to April.
My Final Conclusion.
The bottom line is that Royal Natal National Park is one of the best natural hotspots in the country and must be on your list if you want to enjoy the real mountainous range of South Africa.
The accommodation is pretty easy, and you won’t have a problem finding the basics. So, when are you traveling?
I hope you enjoyed this article on Royal Natal National Park South Africa and if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them below or join my social media channels or Facebook group for more pictures of my travels to Africa!
I wish you happy travels!