Mnweni Circuit Hike

Why in the world would you want to tackle the Mnweni Circuit Hike?

Alright then, so there we have it. The question has been posed? And it is our duty to oblige. In a nutshell, the Mnweni circuit hike is rated as one of the best hikes to do in the Drakensberg. The scenery is just stunning!!! From the massive spires of basalt towers to the wild and rugged escarpment of the upper Drakensberg. It is a hike that we will always recommend hikers partake in. But be warned!!! The hike covers 47km in 3 days. So not for the fat hearted. I mean, not so physically fit hearted.  And of course on top of the distance, there are other factors to consider from weather conditions ( sometimes blazing hot or icy cold), the steep terrain, thick mist, the altitude and the small electric razor that answers only to a man named Dave. Oh….and sometimes there are the armed Basotho smugglers to dodge. What was that?Armed? Did you say armed? Armed with what? Umm…feather duster, bad breath, foul language? Nope. Guns you idiot. But stress not, they are pretty chilled out and don’t have any squabbles with hikers.

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Mnweni and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”-More Fee Us

Lets sort the hikers from the spyers and needy from the greedy

What you doing peeping around on our webpage? You looking for something? If you are competitor and are just having a gander at what Soul Adventures offers, may we suggest that you dial 6 now and ask for Dave. He is an expert in giving advice on the Mnweni Circuit hike. If you are a hiker and are looking for advice and tips on the Mnweni hike, then hang about….we might just be able to help.

What are the route options on the Mnweni Circuit hike?

Clockwise or anti-clockwise…that is the question.

There are bascially two ways of hiking the Mnweni circuit. The route is bascially a circular circuit route. You start and end at the same point. The starting point in this instance is the Mnweni Cultural Centre, situated about 30km from Bergville in the Northern Drakensberg area. So….as mentioned. What is your thing? Have you nbeen brainwashed into always going clockwise, or do you believe in the ACM (Anti Clockwise Movement) of 1976. Whatever you decide, they are both super scenic routes to tackle. You can either go clockwise and ascend via Rockeries and descend down Mnweni Pass. or you can go anti-clockwise and ascend via Mnweni Pass and decend via Rockeries. Easy peasy, not Japanesey.

Why clockwise?

因为全世界的羊都这么说. Yip, that’s what we thought as well. The other thing has got to do with time and distance. If you start the hike later in the day, we suggest you head onto this route. There is a cool camping spot about 11km into the hike.  The veiws from this campsite of Rockeries is just stunning. Taking about 3 hours, this is a better option than heading the other way which could seee you hiking in the dark, especially in winter. The next two days are challenging. Which would have been so for the alternative route as well. The duration on the second day is about 12km and includes a 2km slog up Rockeries Pass to the escarpment. We then slip across the top to Legars Cave for the night. And then… the downward journey. Day 3 is long. We cover 19km as we descend down the most spectacualr Pass in the Drakensberg-Mnweni Pass. The first 4km can take up to 3 hours due to the steep nature of the terrain. Then its straight down the valley for 7km, past Shepards Cave  and through to the start of the sand road that leads to the Mnweni Cultural Village. We usally flagged down a local taxi for the last stretch along this road.

Why anti-clockwise?

The route up Mnweni Pass and down Rockeries Pass is just as stunning. Its the reverse of the above option but with different perspectives and veiws. It is also best to start the hike early in the day so you have time to make Shepards Cave. The 5 Star cave is also used a lot of the time. The first day covers about 12km and can take up to 5-6 hours to complete. And then…..welcome to the second day. There is a 5km slog up the Valley as we follow the Mnweni River until we branch of to tackle Pass. Nice and steep. The veiws will keep you distracted hopefully. Only 12km today but will take between 6-7 hours to reach the overnight camping spot ( Ledgars Cave). The last day is down Rockeries Pass covering about 18km in 8 hours.

What to watch out for on the Mnweni Hike?

A few thgings you should be wary of on the hike. Unless of course you decide to join Soul Adventures instead. These include:

  • Getting lost or losing the way-there are a few dodgy parts that can be a bit#@ch to navigate. These include the mutiple and confusing paths created by the shepards. You will not be sure which one to take.  Finding your way through the wide river section just past Shepards Cave can also pose a problem. We have found lately that a lot of the cairns left for direction have been bashedd down. There have also been a lot of trees put down deliberatly  over the path entrances making it hard for the novice hiker to spot the path. Finding Ledgars Cave for some is also challenge. It is actaully an overhang of sorts that is cut into the cliff of the escaprment about 1.5km from the top of Mnweni Pass. It is not visible from the top. You need to know where it is exactly. Add thick mist to the above scenarios and you have got yourself into an even bigger pickle. Unless of course you know the route well or have chosen to go with a guide.
  • Lack of water-We have had no real problems on the lower sections of the mountain. The challenge with water has been on the escarpment. Especially from the say July through to October. The Orange River ( Senqu) is where we get our water on the top. be careful where you take it from. Lots of cows and horses up there. Might be pee and pooh infested.
  • Caves are sometimes taken-always carry tents and always prepare for other hikers or shepards in the caves. Especially the lower caves. It is easy to check the hikers sign in papers to see if soemone is taking the same route as you and make alternative plans. Not so easy to predict if shepards will be in the caves though. The Mnweni area blelongs to the people and does not fall under the authority of the Natal Parks Board. This means booking of the caves is not going to happen. So don’t try pull a fast one saying you booked the cave when you arrive to find people in them.



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