Giant’s Castle Game Reserve is located in the central region of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and takes its name from the silhouette of the peaks and escarpment that resemble the profile of a sleeping giant. It takes about 40 minutes drive from Summerhill/Hartford House to reach the Reserve . If you are staying with us and you don’t make the time to take the drive you are, alas, doing yourself a grave disservice.
For those of us who live in this part of the world the Castle is as much a playground for our children as it is a National Park; the younger generation keen to brave the rapids and sub freezing temperatures of the mountain fed river and spend a few glorious hours enjoying the sheer delights of youth whilst the older generation take a welcome hour to take a step back from the world and luxuriate in one of the finest views you are likely to experience in your lifetime.
It’s a rare treasure. And right at our front door. Let us share its wonders with you next time you visit us.
For those interested in the history of the area: The Drakensberg was once inhabited by the San people, formerly known as the Bushmen. They were hunters and gatherers who lived in caves and other suitable dwellings. They have left many of their paintings on the sandstone cliffs and cave walls, depicting their way of life and the various animals and people they encountered. In due course, the Amazizi, a tribe of the Nguni race arrived, and occupied the river valleys and approaches to the Drakensberg mountains. They were pastoralists and agriculturalists, while the San people never tilled the soil or kept cattle. As there was no clash of interests, there was peace between the San and the Amazizi.
In the early 1800’s due to a series of events in Zululand, the Amazizi were attacked by the Amangwane. The Amazizi sought refuge in the mountains which were occupied by the San people and they clashed, probably over cattle. The Amahlubi moved into the valleys now vacated by the Amazizi but they, in turn, were still fighting the Amangwane. The Amahlubi were thus forced into the mountains just as the Amazizi had been. For ten years the wars raged until the Amangwane eventually settled in the valleys, having disposed of the Amazizi and the Amahlubi. Four years later The Zulu King Shaka’s troops attacked the Amangwane who fled westwards into the mountains.
After this period of slaughter and destruction, relative peace returned to the Drakensberg mountains and the survivors of the various tribes came down from the mountains and re-established themselves in the river valleys. This alleviated the pressure on the San people who had been badly affected by these wars. Respire was brief as within ten years the arrival of the Voortrekkers and the English settlers led to further troubles. The clash over hunting grounds, private ownership of land, and the arrival of cattle led to increasing numbers of cattle raids by the San people. Eventually the situation became so bad that the San themselves were hunted and decimated by the settlers.
In 1849, due to the failure of various attempts to prevent the cattle raids, a series of buffer “native locations” were established between the settlers and the Drakensberg mountains.
For some years thereafter, raids, particularly in the Bushman’s River area near Giant’s Castle, ceased almost entirely.
A brief resurgence in cattle raids followed in the late 1850’s through to the 1870’s after which the raids fell off sharply. The last sighting of San people in the Drakensberg mountains was in the early 1880’s
During the end of 1873 and the beginning of 1874, Giant’s Castle became internationally known as the site of the Langalibalele Rebellion .
For some months a detachment of the 75th Regiment of the 1st Gordon Highlanders was encamped just below the Main Caves at the junction of the Bushman’s River and the Two Dassie stream which rises in the Langalibalele Pass. The cook of the detachment carved the figure 75 on a very large sandstone boulder which was positioned directly behind where the children swam today.