The Amphitheatre at Royal Natal National Park is one of the most iconic spots in the whole of the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, part of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park in South Africa. It’s formed by a rock wall about 5 kilometres long and about 1,200 metres high resulting in one of the most impressive cliff faces on earth. To give an idea of it’s size, it’s roughly three times the size of the total combined area of all the cliff faces in Yosemite’s famous El Capitan in the USA! It is home to the Tugela Falls, which at 948m high is the second highest waterfall in the world after the Angel Falls in Venezuela, the Tugela River originating at Mont-Aux-Sources a few kilometres away.
There are some wonderful tourist facilities at the park: Thendele Resort offers a number of self catering accommodation units from basic 2 bed chalets to a magnificent six-bed luxury lodge. For those preferring things closer to nature, Mahai Campsite has around 120 large sites, some electrified and some not, and there are laundry and dish washing facilities available. More basic camping is available at Rugged Glen nearby which also offers Horseback trails. Royal Natal National Park is really about walking and experiencing the beautiful surrounds, the hiking trails varying from short easy walks around Mahai Camp and the Reception Centre to longer, more strenuous ones like the trail to the Tugela Gorge.
We recently drove up to Royal Natal National Park early one morning to shoot some time lapse videos of the scenery and arrived to cloudy, overcast conditions. Lucky the sun peeped through the clouds just after sunrise providing some dramatic lighting, the Amphitheatre reflecting in the dams close to the Reception Centre. This image was shot on the Canon 5Ds R and the lovely 8-15mm fisheye lens, while the video cameras did their thing with the time lapses. The resulting photograph shows typical fisheye distortions but a little work in Adobe Lightroom and with Photoshop CC’s Adaptive Wide Angle filter sorted things out.
Check out more Drakensberg images in our Image Bank