The Drakensberg Northern Traverse also known as the Mini Traverse is a one way hike along the escarpment top of the northern regions of the mountain range. These regions include Amphitheatre, Mnweni and Cathedral Peak. The hike can be completed in a variety of ways over a varied amount of days however the route we favour takes us along the escarpment edge pretty much the whole way. Due to this, the route is slightly longer and harder. However, the pain and suffering is certainly worth every bit of sweat, tears and sometimes blood if you fall along the way.
The hike covers between 60-70km and can be done between 4-6 days depending on a number of factors including fitness of the group, weather and obviously time constraints, especially for those on strict work schedules or travellers from abroad. The hike can either be done with tents or trekkers can spend the nights sleeping in various caves such as Rat Hole Cave, Ledges Cave and Twins Cave.
The Drakensberg Northern Traverse is unlike most hikes in the South Africa. Majority of the hike is spent off trail. This means that you’ll spend your days dodging tuffs of grass, walking along hillsides at weird angles wondering if your ankle will snap and walk through muddy plains that will engulf your boot… many boots have fallen victim to the vlei.
trekkers should be comfortable with walking long distances over various terrain with packs weighing between 15kg-20kg. You will also be spending a majority of the hike at an altitude of 3000 meters so this should also be taken into consideration.
The best time of year to complete the Drakensberg Northern Traverse is on February 30th at 11:62am during the eclipse. But if you can’t make these dates then it’ll come down to what you’re willing to risk.
Summer: this period of the year is from early November through to early April. Summer in the Drakensberg is the wet season with many a days spent in thick mist along with afternoon and evening thunderstorms. up side to summer is that you won’t struggle for water, lush green landscapes and cloud inversions are more common this time of year.
Winter: the dry period in the Drakensberg is from May through to October. Snowfall is more common during this period of the year however snow in the Drakensberg doesn’t stay for more than a few days and generally only occurs maybe once a month. Temperatures this time of year average around -5 degrees celsius at night but can drop down to as little as -18 degrees celsius. The landscape during this period its dry and water can be less than easy to find.
The Drakensberg Northern Traverse is generally done between 4-6 days, 6 days obviously being a more luxurious and relaxed hiking experience but well worth it as you need as many days as you can get in to enjoy these majestic mountains in all their glory.
To successfully and comfortably complete this hike you will need various pieces of clothing and equipment. If you decide to tag along this hike with us then we can provide you with the overnight equipment essentials including:
- 4 season tent
- adequate rated sleeping bag (0 degrees Celsius comfort for summer and -8 degrees Celsius or lower for winter)
- sleeping mat
- overnight backpack.
To view our full packing list check out this link.
The obvious logistical nightmare when hiking the traverse is getting from Cathedral Peak Hotel to Sentinel Car Park. Because you start and finish at different points, it creates a conundrum.
If you decide to do the hike with us then we handle all logistical nightmares like the one above as we provide transport from JHB. Not from Johannesburg? No worries. We have a specific meeting point in Harrismith where you’ll be able to meet us and we’ll take you from there.
Join our next traverse which is taking place from the 24th to the 29th of October 2023.
Can’t make the date? No problemo. Just fill out the form below and we can work around doing this hike over your dates.