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Drakensberg Traverse

The Drakensberg Mountains, in the Royal Natal National Park of South Africa, offer dramatic views and are a region of incredible natural beauty. The mountains are listed as a World Heritage site due to the diversity of plants and the large collection of San rock paintings they harbour. The Drakensberg range is the highest in southern Africa at 3482m, with many distinctive basalt buttresses gracing the skyline. In the local Zulu language it is aptly named uKhahlamba (barrier of spears). We commence our trek in the northern section of the mountain range near Mahai and spend our first night on the trail camped near the lip of Tugela Falls, second highest waterfall in the world, on top of the Amphitheatre. For the next five days we follow the edge of the escarpment, river valleys and undulating moorlands encountering wild and spectacular scenery and very few people. We have opportunities to visit a Cape Vulture colony, swim in refreshing mountain streams and finally to climb Cathedral Peak - a free standing buttress that affords sweeping views across the Drakensberg Range. This trek is truly remote and leaves a feeling that we have visited a very special place.

Inclusions

8 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 7 dinners
1 night in comfortable hotel on a twinshare basis
7 nights limited participation camping on a twinshare tent basis
group camping equipment including tent and sleeping mat (sleeping bag and pillow not included)
English speaking local guide
professional mountain guide and porters for traverse section (days 3 - 7)
permits and entrance fees as listed in itinerary
private transport
Hightlights
Trek the Drakensberg Mountains, the highest mountain range in southern Africa
Enjoy the diversity of plants and the large collection of San rock paintings
Camp near Tugela Falls, second highest waterfall in the world
Swim in refreshing mountain streams and wonder at the wild and natural beauty of the Drakensberg Mountains
Climb Cathedral Peak with sweeping panoramic views
Visit a Cape Vulture colony
Tour Provider World Expeditions
Number of Days
9
Price From
AUD $2,990
Start Location
Johannesburg, South Africa
End Location
South Africa
Age Range
Avg. 100+
Group Size
6 to 12
Tour Style
Standard
Tour Themes
Adventure
Physical Rating
Easy to Moderate
Tour departure dates
StartEndAvailabilityPrice
27 May 201804 Jun 2018AvailableAUD $2,990
02 Sep 201810 Sep 2018AvailableAUD $2,990
ItineraryExpand
Day 1
The hotel offers a free transfer from the airport, by prior request. Clients can fly into Johannesburg and make their way to the group hotel. Evening free to enjoy a meal at the hotel restaurant.
Day 2
After a quick introduction and briefing at 8:00am, we pack the vehicle and head out of Johannesburg straight to the Royal Natal National Park and the Northern Drakensberg. Depending on arrival time, there will be an opportunity for a short optional walk. In the late afternoon, we meet our mountain guide for a full briefing for the traverse. This is a beautiful campsite with excellent facilities, and tonight we enjoy a traditional South African Braai. Camp altitude is 1450m. Distance/time: 350km, 4 hours + stopping, lunch time +/-2 hours.
Day 3
Today the trek begins as we set off from Mahai (1450m). This day includes a good deal of climbing, but in stages. Total ascent for the day is 1500m over a distance of about 13kms.The first ascent takes us through the Mahai valley in the Royal Natal National Park. The path then maintains a fairly easy gradient contoured route towards Witsieshk Mountain Resort (2200m). We then transfer along the gravel road to the Sentinel car park (2500m). Then we gradually ascend 450m over a distance of 6 km to the top of the Main Escarpment (2950m). We climb the chain ladders, before arriving on top of the Drakensberg mountains. The overnight spot is near the lip of the Tugela Falls (second highest in the world), on top of the Amphitheatre. Maximum altitude reached is 2950m. Distance/time: 8 9 hours walking, 13km. Road transfer - 12km. For days 3 to 7 - in good weather the views are spectacular, as are our wild campsites. The walk will be close to the escarpment edge for a section each day (weather permitting), with the rest of the time spent further inland following river valleys and undulating moorland. Whichever route is taken, the scenery is wild and spectacular and very few people will be encountered. Your mountain guide will select the most suitable route for the prevailing conditions. An example of each day's walk is given in this itinerary, however as emphasised above, the prevailing conditions may lead to shorter or longer days, as well as the choice of the final descent from the top of the Mountain.
Day 4
This is another fairly long day, but because we are on the summit, the gradients are not severe. The route follows the escarpment edge taking in breathtaking views overlooking the remote Mnweni area. We pass some Lesotho shepherds huts on the way, so we can see how they live. The campsite tonight overlooks the beautiful view of Madonna and her Worshippers. This view is 'mind blowing' at sunrise. The start altitude is 2950m, and we camp at around 3200m. Distance/time: 6 8 hours walking, 15km
Day 5
This section has so much beautiful scenery, that we need to let it soak in slowly as we walk past Fangs pass. We have lunch at the Mnweni cut back overlooking the Mnweni Pinnacles, Mnweni Needles, Rockeries and Cathedral Peak. Excellent afternoon photography if the light plays the game. We then continue around the corner into the Orange River Valley and our camp for the night. Altitude starts around 3200m, and we camp at 3100m. Distance/time: 6 7 hours walking, 12km
Day 6
This will be one of the highlight days, a little longer than the previous day. The day starts off with a visit to the Cape Vulture colony and views down the Rockeries pass, then up and around the saddle to a good swimming spot and excellent views for lunch. From this spot, we can see the Amphitheatre (our first night) all the way to Cathedral Peak. We then have a 2 hour walk to our campsite above the Mlambonja pass near the Kwakatsi river. The altitude for the day starts at 3100m, and gs to 3190m at lunch, and we camp at around 3000m. Distance/time: 7 8 hours walking, 10km
Day 7
We start our day earlier than usual and walk past Twins cave and the start of the Bell traverse. There are 3 exposed sections where we use a rope for security on this section. We then have a 4 hr walk looking north to see over the whole Mnweni valley below the Chess men, Inner and Outer horn and through the gap between the Bell and Cathedral peak; resting at Bell cave, where we can see all the way to Cathkin and the Cathedral Peak hotel, our destination the next day. Then it is a rather steep but short little climb through Buggers gully, and then lunch below Cathedral peak. After lunch we climb up Cathedral peak for 2 hours, which is the easiest free standing peak in the Drakensberg, but is fantastic, as we get to look all over the Drakensberg range from the top. There is a short chain ladder, and then we meet up with anyone that didn't want to climb and carry on walking down to sleep in Sherman's cave. The altitude starts at 3000m, and climbs to a maximum of 3281m, before camping at around 1800m. Distance/time: 8 9 hours walking, 15km
Day 8
All good things come to an end! Today we descend the rest of the way with a shorter 2 hour walk, and a welcome beer at Cathedral Peak Hotel. We overnight at the Didima camp, a short walk away. Time in the afternoon to visit the Bushmen display (own expense). Altitude starts at 1800m, and we drop down to 1500m at Didima. Distance/time: 3 hours walking, 10km
Day 9
After a leisurely start, we pack up camp and we then transfer directly back to Johannesburg, where the trip concludes. Distance/time: 450km, about 6 hours drive