The Bell Traverse Hike

Hold onto your seat baby, cos this hike is a screamer!!

We have been involved in guided Drakensberg Hikes for over 15 years. And we reckon that the Bell traverse hike is the best by far. And by far we mean 4.5 billion km x the square root of purple. You need to try this hike. And no…that was not a threat. It was an exaggerated response to an uncompromising stance. I was taught never to make a threat unless you are prepared to carry it out and I am not a fan of carrying anything. Even watching hikers carrying heavy backpacks makes me uncomfortable. Mainly because of the possibility they may ask me to help. Its also not easy picking up your teeth with broken fingers.

The Bell Traverse Route

This is the route.

Okay, calm down. Not the route you were looking for? Allow us to start afresh. The route is a circular one. We start and end at the Cathedral Peak hotel in the Central Drakensberg region. The first days hike is up Organ Pipes Pass where we overnight in Rolands cave. We just ask that you leave our guides organ alone or you shall not pass. And no smoking of his pipe either- Wait do the rash to clear up first.The second day sees us heading onto the escarpment via Cleft Peak (3,277m) and onwards to Twins cave for the knight. And the knight in mention used to be Sir Lancelot but he lanced a girl a lot and died. So we will spend the night there instead. The thirds day is a whopper. We hike the Bell Traverse. The route traverses high up on the Northern slopes of the Mitre, Chessman, Inner and Outer Horn. After a short break in the Bell cave we tackle the infamous Bugger Gully. the last part of the hike is down via Orange Peel Gap and back to the hotel.

OUR WARNINGS BEFORE ATTEMPTING THE BELL TRAVERSE!!

There are some very exposed sections on the hike. Getting into Rolands Cave is super scary. We do bring rope as a safety precaution.  There are also 3 huge drops on the Bell Traverse that need to be tackled. If you are not ‘sure of foot’ or a tad faint hearted with heights, maybe this hike is not for you.

Water is also a problem on Day 3. There is usually nothing from Twins Cave until Shermans Cave. So make sure you have enough water for the day.

You would need to be fit for this hike with a good level of hiking experience. There is a lot to consider before taking on this challenge: you will be carrying a 15kg backpack everyday for up to 7 hours. The weather can be very unpredictable. We cover on average 15km a day. Organ Pipes Pass has an altitude gain of about 1000m over 3km. And then of course, there is the descent on day 3 along the Bell Traverse. This hike is not for beginners!!! Is it a hard hike? Well lets just say its not a tickling competition if you know what we mean.

Organ Pipes Pass

This pass is one of the most scenic Passes in the Drakensberg. The height at the top of the Pass is just under 3,000m. The altitude gain is about 900m from the contour path at the base of Organs. Distance is only 5km.

Why do the hike?

Maybe these picture can help with that. I’m starting to get a cramp in my finger from all the typing. They say pictures can say a 1000 words. Nice to find a shortcut I say.

Will I make the Hike?

No. Next Question?

Why wont I make the hike?

Because you asked the question. If you asked the question you need to go and sit alone under a tree for 45 hours  with a oink ping pong ball contemplating the reason why you asked that question. The answer just might be that you are not ready. If you were ready for the hike,had no doubts and embraced challenges bigger than your self, you, would not have asked.  Hower…there is a way out if you have already asked the question and regret doing so.All you ned to do is solve the below equation and you will be granted access onto the Bell Traverse hike. Easy Peasy, not Japanesey.

Best time to hike the Bell Traverse?

Does time really exist? Yes? Okay then we say the best time to tackle this hike is between April and say early October. The reason being is that we try and avoid the heavy rain. There are some very exposed sections on the Bell Traverse and wet slippery conditions are not safe at all. The winter months from say May to the end of August brings with it some very cold conditions. You would need to have the correct cold weather gear to survive on top of the escarpment. We have had temperatures of -10 before. Although this may not always be the case, it is best to prepare for the worst conditions.

The serious part now

Those of you who haved hiked with us before will know our style. Yes we have a crazy sense of humor and are pretty relaxed and easy going in the mountains. But we do not compromise on safety.Climbing to reach the top of a mountain can be a rewarding experience. Along with the thrills of climbing itself, mountain summits often offer sweeping views and uniquely solitary environments.However, it’s important to understand the health and physical challenges you may face when seeking adventure in the Drakensberg. We are dedicated to keeping you safe. But at the same time having fun. In the Drakensberg, hikers are often far from hospitals, and thus it’s essential to have professional safety and wilderness first aid knowledge and experience at hand. Our safety protocols are based on the ‘Wilderness First Responder’ (WFR) standards for emergency wilderness care. Our comprehensive approach to mountain safety includes systems that combine professionally trained and certified guides PLUS modern safety equipment to proactively prevent injury, and respond to all types of emergency situations with the highest level of training and care available.

  • Return Transport from Johannesburg
  • Tents ( just in case caves are inaccessible)
  • All cooking at eating utensils
  • Hiking Permits
  • Breakfast and Dinner on the Mountain
  • Guide
  • Free rock from the summit
  • My Wife
  • Sleeping bags, backpacks and sleeping mats ( you can hire from us if you need)
  • Lunches
  • Breakfast on route down from Johannesburg ( we will stop in Harrismith)
  • Porters ( if you would like to hire a porter we can help. They cost R750 per day and carry 12kg)
  • Spend a 2 nights in the best caves in the Drakensberg-Rolands and Twins
  • Hike the spectacular and stunning Bell Traverse
  • Experience what a proper multi-day Drakensberg hike is all about
  • Epic veiws. We reckon some of the best in the entire Drakensberg.
  • All logistics taken care off
  • Fully guided

Day 1:

We depart Johannesburg at 4:45am. Yes. It is early. Cry us a river and get over it. The first day of the Bell Traverse hike is log.We need to start hiking by 11am in order to make Rolands Cave before dark. The distance covered is about 12km with an altitude gain of just under 900m. Once in the cave, we prepare dinner, massage each others inner thighs, have a cry and settle down for sleep.

Day 2:

An early wake up call. We want to to be hiking by 7am. We make our way onto the escarpment via Cleft Peak. Once on top we take a stroll along the top to Twins cave. Our humble abode for the night. Hiking distance today is about 12km taking us 6 hours to complete.

Day 3:

An early wake up again. Hiking by 6am. The first part of the hike is through the Bell Traverse. Then its up and over Bugger Gully and down via Ornage Peel Gap to the Cathedral Peak Hotel. Hikin distance today is about 16km taking about 8 hours.

Hopefully we make it down by 2pm. In the road back to Johannesburg by day 3. Which means we make it back to JHB by about 7:30pm.

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