5 Best hikes in the Drakensberg
Dear Dave, please can you send naked pictures, or I set my dogs on you.
Now that we have your attention, I’m sure you will enjoy reading our advice on the 5 best hikes in the Drakensberg.
Let’s start off by sorting the buyers from the spyers, the needy from the greedy and those who trust us from those who don’t. Because if you aren’t on our site looking at joining one of hikes in the Drakensberg, you’re not on it shopping, you’re on it shoplifting.
About us and what we know about top 5 hikes in the Drakensberg
I have been hiking in the Drakensberg virtually my whole life. I still remember the magical feeling I got when I stood as a snotty 10-year-old staring up at the mighty Amphitheatre cliff wondering what mystical world lay above. I suppose that was the seed to my evolving passion into mountaineering. A passion so great I quit my corporate job to pursue my dream of turning my passion into a business. And here we are- 15 years later and still going strong. Well I say 15 years as I wrote this article on 26 May 2020 at 3:29pm. So, if you happen to be reading this article on 14 June 2021, the’ 15 years going strong’ would have changed to 16 years going strong. Useless information I know. But I’m just trying to keep you on the site longer. (so, we get good ratings with Google).
Anyway, I have spent over 35 years hiking in the Drakensberg. I have been through the baptisms of fire and learning curves of running successful hikes in the Drakensberg. I am just so glad I learnt many of the easy lessons like getting lost, messing up with navigation and finding the best suitable camping spots in the early years on my own before I started my business. There has been plenty a moment when I had to pull a few Bear Grylls moves to survive. The hardest part of the hikes has become the people we take. The dynamics and phycology of people has definitely changed over the past few years. I remember the good old days when client and guide interacted, suffered, and bonded in the Drakensberg. The guides role was to navigation, safety, sharing of knowledge and the comradeship. Nowadays the phycology of people has changed. A lot more people have become entitled belong to some local “Drama Society”? Fannying about in tights with the soul of an amoeba and the imagination of a ping pong ball. Waiting in the dark for the first opportunity to complain on Trip Advisor because of the smallest issue. Hikes in the Drakensberg are all about uncertainty, testing your limits, and stretching your comfort levels. Things will go wrong. Weather will change. Tent pegs will snap. Aaaaahhhhh. You get my point. No need to look to deep into the abyss just yet. I’m scared the abyss looks back. I’m just saying…….If you fall into the latter category, then please feel free to not contact us for a hike. All you can lay a complaint by sending a mail to our customer care: 拉屎, 粪, 屁话, 粪便@wedontcare.com
About the Drakensberg
Okay. Let’s condense that into English then shall we. The Drakensberg mountain range is massive. It extends for 1000km from the Eastern Cape into KwaZula Natal and up into the Limpopo. The major proportion of the range extends for about 220km from what is known as the Sentinel to Bushmans Nek in the KwaZulu Natal area. The looming pinnacles of basalt spires form the natural border between South Africa and Lesotho. The average heights range from 2200m (if you choose a lower berg hiking route) to 3200 (the top of the escarpment). The mountains were formed through erosion of the sandstone and basalt rock. These ancient mountains have various names. Drakensberg actually means ‘Dragon mountains’ in Afrikaans. They are known as uKhahlamba which means ‘barrier of spears’ in Zulu. They also go by the name of горы мужества in Russian. But this name has been discarded by the authorities as it is believed there was a ploy by Putin to hide nuclear weapons in them.
The best hiking areas in the Drakensberg according to us
Naturally, there are going to be varying opinions on the top 5 hikes in the Drakensberg. Everyone is entitled to an opinion we say. Ours is just better. The best hikes in the Drakensberg are situated in the areas between the ‘Central Berg and ‘northern Berg’.
Central Drakensberg Hikes:
- The highest mountain in South Africa.
Known as Mafadi, the maximum height is 3,451m. A challenging 64km hike over 4 days. Not recommended for hikers who are not fit. The ascent is usually via Corner Pass (if the conditions allow it) or Judges Pass. A night is spent in the summit cave known as the Upper Injasuthi cave. The descent is down the knee grinding Leslies Pass. The last night is spent in Marble Bath Cave-a really cool spot for a refreshing swim after a strenuous day’s hike. Read More
- Champagne Castle Hike
A 3-day hike covering 45km. The best route to the summit is via Gray’s Pass spending 2 nights at Keith’s Bush Camp. The height of Champagne Castle is 3,377m. The itself can also be quite challenging, especially the second day as you hike up 1000m over about 2km to the escarpment. READ MORE
- Organ Pipes/Bell Traverse Circuit
Number 1 in the top 5 hikes in the Drakensberg in our opinion!! Truly spectacular. The hike covers about 45km over 3 days. It is intense. The route to the summit is via Organs Pipes Pass with a night spent in Rolands Cave. (not for the faint hearted. The last section into the cave is pretty exposed). The second night is spent in Twins Cave before attempting the Bell Traverse the next day. There are some exposed sections on the Traverse that may be a challenge to some hikers. This route is not recommended in the rain. All in all? One of the best hikes in the Drakensberg by far.
- Cathedral Peak Circuit
A relatively easy hike for the Drakensberg. We usually take 3 days to complete spending 2 nights in Shermans Cave. The route is only 24km with 14km being hikes on he second day. The last part of the route involves some scrambling and climbing on exposed sections. But once on the summit, the views are spectacular. On a clear day you will be able get a panoramic view from Monks Cowl to the Amphitheatre. READ MORE
Northern Drakensberg hikes:
- Mnweni Circuit
Just north of Cathedral Peak lies the Mnweni area. Another incredible hiking experience. The distanced covered is about 44km over 3 days. The highlight is spending a night in Ledgars Cave which has been eroded into the escarpment. The longest day is the 3rd day with a 17km hike down the mountain. READ MORE
- Amphitheatre Hike
An easy peasy hike which starts at the Sentinel carpark. It can easily be done in a day. But we prefer to spend a night on the top. Just adds to the experience. And the views are just crazy!!! This hike is popular because it is so easy. And offers some of the best views in the Drakensberg. READ MORE
What does an average multi day hike in the Drakensberg cost?
Economies of scale old chap. We provide transport from Johannesburg, tents, food, equipment, permits and the guide. We reckon the whole experience is quite reasonable. Check out our links above for the costings.
Seems? Well, this seems to be a complete waste of my time. This hike is offered by our competitors for at least 30% higher than we do. And we include transport from Johannesburg. And you’re haggling over a few hundred Rand? What school of finance did you come from? “It’s a deal, it’s a steal, it’s the Sale of the ****ing Century!” Tighter than a duck’s butt you are. Now come on, lemme feel the fiber of your fabric.
What else does it come with?
It comes with a gold-plated hiking boot. As long as you pay for it.
And there we have it. The top 5 hikes in the Drakensberg. We trust you enjoyed the blab. Give us a shout if you are keen on joining us on the hike. A reminder though:
No haughty-toity-stick-it-up-your-toighty-toffee-nosed-lah-dee-dahs allowed.