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On a recent hike with some guests, one person commented, as we got nearer to the top of Matterhorn, that they’d love to climb the stairs of the tallest building in the world – The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stretches an impressive 828m above the ground (282m is the aerial on top). It got us chatting about how high that would be, when compared to the mountains within walking distance of Champagne Castle Hotel?

Being located inside the World Heritage Site, with direct access to the mountains from the Hotel, it’s not completely difficult to try and imagine the Burj standing on the property, or locally, the Leonardo in Sandton (currently Africa’s tallest building).

Below is an image we built as an attempt to illustrate how the world’s two highest buildings stack up against ‘our’ Central Drakensberg mountains?

How we Built the Image?

It’s probably worth pointing out that Champagne Castle is the 3rd highest mountain in South Africa. Champagne Castle Hotel is 1560m above sea level, so we simply took the height of 4 of the mountains (above sea level), subtracted the height of Champagne Castle Hotel, and that allowed us to compare them to the world’s two tallest buildings (Burj Khalifa and Shanghai Tower). We also placed the buildings into the image and attempted to scale them from the height / level the Hotel is on the image. We’re certain that angles, perspective and a definite lack of geometrical skill are at play in our result…

buildings v mountains height comparison in the drakensberg

You don’t need to travel to distant lands to experience impressive heights

The results surprised us all, as none of us on the hike new the real heights of the mountains if one used Champagne Castle Hotel as the base. Neither did we know the heights of the buildings we were discussing. When we looked at the results we were all hit by a fresh realisation of just how high the mountains around us are, and how high our guests walk when they head out on one of the trails that leave from the Hotel.

For example, if you walked to the top of the Matterhorn, which is just under 2km in distance and 435m in height, you’re almost double the height of the Leonardo in Sandton (currently the tallest building in Africa). If you walked to Blind Man’s Corner, which is only 7km in distance and about 700m in height, you would have exceeded the ‘floor height’ of the Burj Khalifa, and only 128m below the top of the 228m arial that sits on top. These are hikes completed regularly by our guests.

Of course if you climbed Sterkhorn, Gatberg or Champagne Castle, you’d be hundreds of meters higher than any man made structure. So, unless you’re visiting the Central Drakensberg from a foreign country, there’s no need to travel far to experience impressive height. All you need is a little fitness, some decent shoes, possibly a guide, and you can find yourself at some incredible heights.