The Southern Drakensberg offers superb hiking opportunities to all, young and old, fit and unfit. From short rambles to overnight hiking, experience the views, the peace and swims in mountain streams. Fit hikers might tackle a strenuous trip up the Rhino or bag Hodgson’s Peaks and Thabana Ntlenyana (the highest point in Africa south of Kilimanjaro).
Most of the walks are in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, administered by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. All hikers on KZN Wildlife land must purchase an entry permit first. Always take a waterproof jacket with you when hiking— the weather can change very quickly in the berg! Also pack energy food, a water bottle, sunscreen and a cap.
OVERNIGHT HIKING, SELF-GUIDED
There are superb overnight trips all over including visiting the escarpment into Lesotho. You can sleep in huts, caves or pitch a tent.
The Giants Cup Trail runs for 5 days from Sani Pass to Bushman’s Nek. Days are a maximum of 12km long, the trail is easy to follow and well marked. Nights are spent in hiking huts, which can accommodate up to 30 hikers.
For bookings contact KZN Wildlife Reservation Office: 033 8451000. www.kznwildlife.com
Overnight-hiking is available at all KZN Wildlife stations. Hikers may camp in the wilderness or in a wide variety of caves. These may be booked directly with the relevant stations.
DAY WALKS, SELF-GUIDED
Many beautiful and varied day walks give one a real feel for the magic of the Drakensberg mountains without carrying a heavy backpack. Take the family for a wonderful walk, swim and picnic!
Lotheni – 033 7020540 (Route T3)
Eagle Trail 13km +- 5hrs – Spectacular views of the high berg, leads through indigenous forest & grassland plains. Follows several streams, with a large waterfall enroute.
Emandundwini Trail 12km +- 4hrs – Through protea savanna, indigenous montane forest, grassland plains & along streams. Excellent bird watching and magnificent views. Some steep inclines.
Jacobs Ladder Trail 2km – Follows the Lotheni River and leads to the spectacular Jacobs Ladder Waterfall. Numerous pools along the route, perfect for swimming. Easy gradient.
Cobham 033 7020831 (Route T4)
Emerald Stream Trail 20km – Follows the valley between the Ndlovini Mountain and Emerald Dome, leads to Pinnacle Rock, situated on a grassland plateau. Many pools are found along the route. Good for bird watching and game viewing. Steep in parts.
Gxalingenwa River Trail 3hrs – Along Gxalingenwa River, passing indigenous forest, which leads to a spectacular waterfall with pools suitable for swimming. Good bird watching. Gentle gradient. Starts on Sani Pass Road (Route T5).
Pholela River Trail 15km – Follows Pholela river. Spectacular views of the Giants Cup, many pools suitable for swimming. Indigenous forest in the upper reaches. Gentle gradient.
Garden Castle 033 7011823 (Route T8/T7)
Hidden Valley – You determine when to turn back. This hike up the Mzimude valley offers geologically interesting formations & unusual erosion features. Gentle climb.
Pillar Cave 6km 3-4 hrs – A fairly easy walk, not many steep sections, lovely scenery, combined with various pools, ideal for swimming.
The Rhino 18km – Severe to extreme, only for the very fit. A full day is required for this trail up to Rhino Peak. Offers magnificent views.
Vergelegen 033 7020712 (Route T3)
Southern Africa’s highest mountain peak is accessible via Mkhomazi Pass at Vergelegen with a magnificent overnight cave en route. Ample water is available along the way.
Bushmans Nek Berg & Trout Resort