Unusual plant families found a way to survive in the mountains and valleys of South Africa and Lesotho in an alpine area named by Dutch settlers as the Drakensberg or “Dragon” Mountains. The Drakensberg Mountains formed as the supercontinent Gondwana began to split apart about 180 million years ago, separating the plants and animals shared by Africa, Australia, Antarctica and South America. South Africa became more arid as
ocean currents changed due to the moving continents. This dramatically altered environment resulted in amazing plants and animals forced to adapt to their new isolated world.
The plants that evolved here are so different from their relatives in South America, Australia and New Zealand can make you feel like you are on another planet! Most notable are ice plants that have cells in their leaves filled with stored water that glisten like ice. This smallest and richest floral kingdom of the Drakensberg
Mountains includes rock art that is the last evidence of an ancient San people.
The Drakensberg Mountains have been designated a World Heritage Site for their exceptional natural beauty, diversity and significant cultural features.