Cathkin Peak is a free-standing, flat-topped mass of basalt that is an imposing and impressive mountain peak. The dominant Cathkin spur consists of Champagne Castle which is part of the main escarpment, The Monk’s Cowl, Cathkin peak, Mount Memory, also called the Sterkhorn, the Turret and Amphlett.
Champagne Castle can boast of being the second highest peak in South Africa. The peak was thus christened Champagne Peak resulting from a bottle of champagne that accidentally broke during an accent. The Monk’s Cowl was a different story. From the time that this peak was first discovered, hiding behind the mighty Cathkin, a certain mystery seemed to surround it. The most northern section of the spur is the Amphlett which was named after G.T Amphlett, a popular Cape climber who spent some time climbing in the Cathkin area.
From the Champagne Castle Hotel and the old Monk’s Cowl forest station a well-known path leads up to the top of the Little Berg, round Hlatikulu Neck, skirting the Amphlett and up the Mhlwazine Valley to the Keith Bush Hut. The path climbs steeply up to Gray’s Pass which leads to the top of the escarpment, and an easy walk takes one to the summit of Champagne Castle.
From the top of Gray’s Pass, a stroll to the top of the Nkosazana Waterfall is worthwhile, and from the edge the Dragon’s back extends as a spur, flanking the northern aspect of the Upper Mhlwazine Valley, and ends in a peak called Ntunja or Gatberg. The latter name springs from the fact that there is an enormous hole through the basalt near its summit.
The Champagne Castle area has become well developed. There is a growing settlement in Champagne Valley as well as several hotels, a golf resort and handicrafts shops. It is also the location of the Drakensberg Boys Choir.
- Thokosiza crafts centre
- Zulu Weavers shop
- Champagne Sports Golf Course
- Profusion of Bushman paintings – 17 sites and 4,000 paintings
- Drakensberg Boys Choir
- Raptor displays
Bushmen were thought to have all been killed by farmers and bounty hunters in the last century, but a cave was discovered in 1926 containing a bow and quiver with a freshly laid grass bed.