The Bell Traverse Circuit

The Bell Traverse is known as one of the Northern Drakensberg’s most scenic pathways and contours along many of the free-standing mountains in the area.

Bell Traverse

What makes this hike so great?

The Bell Traverse is packed with immense views of free standing vistas including The Pyramid and Column, Cathedral Peak as well as the Inner and Outer Horns. The slightly exposed sections along the Bell Traverse and that extra bit of daredevildness adding to the excitement of it all. We aim to camp and sleep in some of the most scenic parts of the Northern Drakensberg including Rolands Cave and the base of Cathedral Peak.

How difficult is the Bell Traverse?

The Bell Traverse is definitely one of our more advanced hikes and we certainly don’t recommend it for first timers! With that being said days are long with us covering about 12-15kms each day. You will also need a head for heights as some sections on the Bell Traverse are exposed, however your guide will determine and help you throughout.

Mentally this will be the toughest challenge of your life, not because of the hikes difficulty but because of our super lame dad jokes which we hope keep you highly motivated throughout the entire hike and even a little on the group chat.

Frequently asked

The closest accommodation in the area is Cathedral Peak Hotel and Didima Lodge, the latter being the cheaper option. It is roughly 5:30 hours drive from Johannesburg. We generally opt to stay at Didima the night before to prep everything for the following day.

You can be expected to carry your personal equipment which includes tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and portion of the food. On average a backpack may weigh around 16kgs for a 4 day hike. Porters are available to hire at R500pd and will help carry your equipment. If using a porter you can expect to carry about 6-7kgs.

As previously mentioned above, yes they are. The cost is R500 per day and they will carry up to 10kgs of your equipment.

Frogs eyes, lettuce and whatever we catch crawling around the tents of course… and if that’s not up your alley then our other dishes consist of pasta, curries and stews. We can also cater for any dietary requirements you or your friends may have.

Of course! along with our scheduled hikes we do take open dates however the cost may vary to our scheduled hikes as this would be a private hike and expenses are high. We’re not greedy so we try and charge as little as possible without comprising our staffs salaries and other expenses.

No problemo. In fact 40% of hikers that join us are also solo so you won’t feel left out! Also about 98% of people on our hikes are very sociable and lovable beings. We don’t talk about the other 2% though.


  • Qualified mountain guide and wilderness first responder plus assistants
  • Dinners, breakfasts and hot drinks on the mountain which our team will cook and prepare
  • Equipment including 4 season tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, backpacks and eating utensils
  • Dry one liner jokes to motivate you up the mountain
  • Dedicated Drakensberg trip planner
  • 4 days/3 night in the mountains
  • Local taxes
  • Discount on equipment and clothing purchases at Drifters
  • Discount on dehydrated meals from Mama Alles


  • Transport to Cathedral Peak Hotel
  • My beautiful wife
  • Flights and airport taxes
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips for guides, porters and cook
  • Porters (can be hired on a daily basis for an additional fee)
  • Visas for South Africa
  • Health requirements (if any)
  • Optional but highly recommended travel and medical insurance
  • Personal hiking/trekking gear – you can rent some of the gear from us once in South Africa
  • Snacks, personal medicine and water purifying tablets
  • Meals & drinks not specified
  • Summit the highest ‘free standing’ mountain in the Drakensberg that is accessible by normal non-mountaineering types
  • Some of the best views of the Northern Drakensberg
  • Fully supported
  • Authentic South African hiking experience
  • It’s achievable!

Day 1:

Our meeting point for the Bell Traverse is at Cathedral Peak Hotel at 9am. After introduction we move on to packing bags and checking equipment followed up by a safety briefing. We try to begin the hike by 10am sauntering through the river valley passed Shermans cave and taking the ascent up to Orange Peel Gap where we will ascend some more through some thicker bush. Once at the top of Orange Peel Gap it is a 1.5km saunter to our campsite at the base of Cathedral Peak. We generally arrive at camp around 3-4pm leaving us enough time for cooking while it is still light.

Day 2:

3 orange ping pong balls wake us up before dawn with a warm, fresh cup of freshly brewed coffee. We watch as the sun rises before having breakfast and eventually striking down camp. Our denture time varies throughout the year in accordance with the sun. However from wake up till we depart is roughy a 2 hour window. We then proceed up- what is known as heart break hill where we will leave all our moubnrned tinder dates behind. the views from the top of the hill are hopwverr, immaculate. We then take on what is known as Bugger Gully. This is quite a rough section as it is filled with loose shale and rocks making us take extra caution when walking. After the Gulley we start the Bell Traverse.

We spend the next 3 hours countering along these magnificent basalt towers including the Horns, Chessmen and Mitre, passing by twins cave briefly. We then top at on top of the Escarpment top with a leisurely 1km stroll to our campsite for the night.

Day 3:

Cookadoodledoo will be the cry when the man with the coffee passes me by. Todays route follows along the escarpment ridgeline with a gradual uphill to get the blood flowing first thing in the morning. Unfortunately what goes up must come down and what goes up and down must… wait wrong site sorry, sometimes orange and black get a bit confusing. But back to it we top out at Xeni pass and will descend what is known as the elephant for 200m to then again ascend Cockade Pass. Now now, I know what you’re thinking, we go up to go down top go up again? make it make sense right. There is n alternate ways to bypass the Elephant however it is one of the most stunning sections of the hike and is not to be missed, luckily the climb up Cockade Pass isn’t too bad. Unfortunately what comes afterwards is.

Once at the top of Cockade Pass we contour for about 20 minutes before having to ascend a beast of a hill towards Cleft Peak which we will indeed summit. Then we shoot straight down the hillside for the final time today to tackle one last short uphill to either camp at the top of Organ Pipes Pass or at Roland’s Cave.

Day 4:

A moment of despair as you realise this is the last day of the hike and the final few hours of listening to our stories of conquest and love. Todays hike is roughly 5 hours descending down to Cathedral Peak Hotel via Organ Pipes pass and Windy Gap. We aim to be back at the hotel and having lunch at around 1pm.