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Hike the Drakensberg Mini Traverse via Cathedral Peak

Hike from Mont-aux-Sources to Cathedral Peak in the South African Drakensberg mountain range. 5 days.

DURATION
4 Nights
COMFORT
Basic
LOCATION
South Africa
SEASON
Year round
NEAREST AIRPORT

This 80km hike takes you the scenic route via the Tugela Falls, Monte-aux-Sources, Mweni cutback, the source of South Africa’s longest Orange River, and the ever-famous Cathedral Peak. You’ll be exploring a very remote piece of Africa as you traverse the international border of South Africa and Lesotho, passing only the shepherds there to tend to sheep and cattle.

Your hassle-free adventure includes

  • 5-days hiking
  • 4 night’s wild camping
  • Local, certified guide
  • All camping equipment
  • All meals
  • All taxes, insurances and licenses relative to the trip

Perfect for

Keen hikers looking to take it to the next level; this trip requires good fitness to see you over long-distance hikes and challenging off-road terrain.

Need To Know

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel to/from start point (optional)
  • Accommodation before and after the hike (optional)
  • Tips for your guides (optional)
  • Personal expenses

This trek can be done at any time of the year. It must be noted that from June until September are the colder months with night temperatures often below freezing. Snowfalls can also occur. During the southern African summer, the mountains receive afternoon thundershowers and high daytime temperatures. However, cold, wet and windy weather can be encountered at any time of year.

This trip will run with a minimum of 3 people, and a maximum of 6. The guest to guide ratio will be maximum 6:1. Please note, if there are not 3 people booked the trip may be rearranged or cancelled. Alternatively, you can also book the trip as a private trip with a minimum of 1 person for a little surcharge.

Sure can! A lot of people do, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

The Mini Traverse requires good fitness and prior experience at hiking long distances in remote mountains. The weight of backpacks will be about 15-18kgs. Hikers need to walk for about 6 hours each day over rough alpine grass and rock. The route also traverses over high ridges on every day of the walk. In some places, there are rough paths to walk on and in others, the route simply goes cross-country.

To reduce weight it is possible to hire porters. These strong Zulu men, who live in the Mweni valley area, will carry up to 13kgs of your equipment. Porters have to be arranged a few weeks before departing. Your host can arrange this for you.

The hike can be done at any time of year; however, it is commonly done during the months of April or May, as this is usually the most stable weather in the Drakensberg. Doing it in July or August is very cold and snowfalls or deep snow on the ground could hinder progress. In the months of December to March, there can be the possibility of heavy rain and thunderstorms. in the summer (November to March) temperatures can range from 8°C at night to 25°C during the day. In the winter (April to October) temperatures can range from -2°C at night to 15°C during the day.

Your host recommends to pack:

  • Trekking boots; must be waterproof with good ankle support (no hiking shoes)
  • Outer shell waterproof clothing
  • Polar fleece
  • Down jacket (optional during months May to September)
  • Sunhat
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Summer trekking clothes (shirts, long trousers, short trousers)
  • Head-lamp (flash-light)
  • Warm fleece hat
  • Cup, spoon, plate
  • Water bottle/hydration bladder
  • Toiletries and toilet paper

You will also need the following items, but these are available to rent with prior notice to your host: - Sleeping bag (3 or 4 season depending on the time of year) - Sleeping mat - A large backpack (usually about 50 to 80 litres) - Mountain tent (usually provided by Peak High)

Other recommendations are: - Camera - Mobile phone - Ear plugs - Head torch - Energy snacks - Personal medicine if required (please inform your guide in case of emergency)

Start point?
Arrive at King Shaka Airport and make your way to the start point. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

End point?
At the end of your tour, you are free to make your way back to King Shaka Airport or carry on exploring. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Getting there and away?
From the airport, your host recommends you arrange a hire car to collect at the airport (Budget and Avis are reliable companies), or your host can organise a shuttle transfer to collect you. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

For extra financial protection against unforeseen circumstances such as erupting Icelandic volcanoes, we recommend you book your flights using a credit card.

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.

Water: The water found in the Drakensberg within the national park is very pure and needs no filtering or chemical additives. Hikers and climbers can drink directly out of the streams and rivers.

Sanitation: Hikers have to go to the toilet in a wilderness area and all human waste must be buried at least 12cm into the ground. Only use areas of ground where there is no moisture or running water. Your guide will usually point out suitable toilet areas near the campsite.

Litter: All litter and including female sanitary items must be carried out of the national park area and placed in a proper garbage bin.

Location

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Drakensberg is the highest mountain range of South Africa; rising to more than 3475m and covering 700 miles. Exploring this spectacular ancient area, you’ll find rock and cave art several thousands of years old, sat amongst incredible natural beauty and many game reserves and parks.

The Drakensberg Mountains offer everything from guided walks and fly fishing, to rock climbing and hot air balloon rides over hidden valleys. It also offers unspoilt forests, towering sandstone cliffs, and rich wildlife, including Black Eagle and Eland.

Start point

You will meet your guide at Sentinel car park at 09:00 to begin your mini traverse. The drive from Durban to the car park takes about 5 hours. Your host suggests arriving the day before to be fully energised for the hike.

Finish point

Your tour will end at Didima Camp at 17:00 on the last day. At the end of the hike, you might like to stay the night at Cathedral Peak Hotel or Didima Camp. Speak with your host if you would like to book one of these.

What to Expect

Day 1: Sentinel to Ifidi Pass

Starting early from Sentinel car park (2500m), you’ll climb to the top of the Amphitheatre using the chain ladders; two sets of ladders attached to the rock face taking you to the top of the Drakensberg plateau (3088m).

Challenge complete, you’ll hike along the path to view the Tugela Falls; the second highest waterfall in the world (850m). A walk back south will take you to the old Monte-aux-Sources hut and down to the Bilanjil River.

Continuing east, you’ll cross the Kubedu River and make your way up the valley to the head of Ifidi Pass. Tonight, you’ll camp in tents near the pass or you may head to Ifidi Cave for the night.

13km hiking, 7 hours

Day 2: Ifidi Pass to Fang Pass

Now in Mnweni Valley, touted as the wildest and most dramatic part of Drakensberg, you’ll continue your hike over the ridge to the south of Icidi Pass.

You’ll continue to follow the escarpment over a series of valleys and ridges as you head towards Fang Pass.

When you arrive, you’ll set up camp close to the top of the pass. Catch up with the group over dinner before catching up on some much-needed rest.

13km hiking, 7 hours

Day 3: Fang Pass to Ledger’s Cave

This morning, you’ll continue to follow the escarpment edge and hike up past Rwanqa Pass then on to overlook the Mweni Pinnacles.

You’ll skirt around the Hanging Valleys with a series of rugged peaks as your backdrop until you reach the wide wetland that forms the source of the Orange River.

Soon, you’ll drop down a short, hidden gully to Ledger’s Cave; Drakensberg’s finest high-altitude cave with amazing views of the valley below, where you’ll camp for the night.

14km hiking, 8 hours

Day 4: Ledger’s Cave to Kwakwatsi River

Today is a long day over beautiful terrain. Heading across the wetlands, you’ll make your way to the top of Rockeries Pass and onto Nguza Pass; stopping between the two to witness a huge Cape Vulture Colony.

You’ll continue to follow the Koakoatsoan valley before descending to the top of Ntonjelana Pass on a vague path with some small cliffs to be scrambled.

You’ll camp tonight along the river, opposite Mlambonja Pass, where you might just get your first glimpse of Cathedral Peak.

17km hiking, 9 hours

Day 5: Kwakwatsi River to the Finish Line

This morning, you’ll climb to the top of Mlambonja Pass high on the escarpment ridge. There are great views at this point of Champagne Castle to the south and Cathedral Peak to the east.

You’ll take a steep descent to the Twins Cave and from here, the group will have a choice of trail; out east to One-Tree-Hill or along the Bell-Twins Traverse route which offers some amazing hiking between the peaks of the Cathedral Peak Ridge.

At the end of a long day, you’ll make the descent to the Cathedral Peak Hotel or Didima Camp; the finishing line of an epic journey.

15km hiking, 8 hours

Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, and weather conditions and forecasts.

Accommodation

During the trip, you’ll mountain camp in lightweight mountain tents at various points along the route.

At the end of the trip, you can arrange to stay at the 4-stay Cathedral Peak Hotel for a separate charge. Your host can help make these arrangements.

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Dates & Prices

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Your host will confirm your booking subject to availability. There may be a minimum number of guests required to guarantee that a trip will go ahead.

Prices include

Accommodation · Equipment · Guide · Local Transport · Meals As Described · Happiness Guaranteed · 100% Financial Protection · No Single Supplements

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

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Guide Prices

Group size Adults Children
1
2
3
4
5
6

Please note: These prices may change subject to extra requirements.

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Optional Extras

Make your life easy. Once you have reserved your space, your host can help you arrange the extras you’ll need. Here are some guide prices which can be confirmed with you during booking.

Porter Services Payable Before Departure
Porter Support (per day) ZAR350.00 Per Night
Transfer from Durban Payable Before Departure
Transfer from Durban King Shaka Airport ZAR1200.00
Transfer from Durban Centre ZAR1200.00

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FROM ZAR8,000