Drakensberg Northern Traverse Hike Report.
The Drakensberg Northern Traverse hike report is about an incredible 6 day hike we did from the Sentinel at the Amphitheatre to finish at Cathedral peak hotel. This time we hiked at the end of April and the weather was the best ever. Check here for pictures of our hike. But first we camped at Sterkfontein dam. I love doing this as it breaks the long drive and we can all visit before the hike, plus the dam is beautiful.
Anyway day one we drove to the Sentinel car park to start the hike. Here we sign the register so they come and look for us if we get lost?? Yup. Lunch was with a view looking across the Amphitheatre wall. A good start. Then around the mighty Sentinel peak and up the chain ladders. A bit out of the comfort zone for some people but we all made it.
Now it is a gentle saunter to our camp next to the Tugela falls.
I am telling you the views from this camp site are just ridiculous. You can’t believe that after 4 hours of walking you can check this out. Supper was in the Drakensberghiker restaurant and included some stories and off to bed.
The next day we had to endure one of the best sun rises and then Southwards and into Lesotho for a bit. On the way a Bearded vulture which is quite rare followed us so that made my day. After lunch was a hill for a while but the views at the top were worth it. We were overlooking the Mnweni cutback ahead with the Madonna cutback just in front. The Mnweni needles, Mponjewana and even Cathedral peak were visible. Down we went to our camp for the night.
Madonna is one of the more photogenic sport in the Drakensberg so we had a couple sun downers while supper was being prepared. Read about the Drakensberg hiker team here.
Day 3 dawned bright and clear. Another kak day in Africa as we locals say to tease the foreigners.
Today is a great day as we wander past Fangs pass, into the valley and up a hill. From here the views are continuous. You have to come and see for yourself. Lunch is at a tiny stream by the Mnweni cutback and then down a hill to cross the mighty Orange/Senqu river on it’s way to the Atlantic ocean a long way away. Tonight we camp near a huge Cape vulture colony. If you like birds this is a great place to check them out. Plus we look down onto Mnweni. My porters can also check out their homes here. Makes them happy. More crazy sun rises and then on past the Saddle with a quick dip in a cool mountain stream and a view looking from the Devils tooth in the North to Cathkin in the South. Basically half of the whole Drakensberg range. Lunch is by Ntonjelana pass and a 1 hour saunter to camp by Mlambonja pass.
Today the real adventure starts. The Bell traverse!
This route is magnificent but is weather dependent and also not for people worried about heights and exposure. We start by going down a bit of Mlambonja pass but turn left past Twins cave and contour along the Cathedral peak range. Under the Chessmen, Inner and outer horns, under the Bell, over Buggers gully and to our camp below Cathedral peak. Unfortunately this time we ran out of time so didn’t climb Cathedral peak. You have to be careful at this camp. The water is a bit of a walk away and the pegs don’t go into the ground well. Don’t want a windy day but the views are amazing again.
Finally on day 6 we walk about 3 hours down the ridge through Orange peel gap to the hotel to finish our lovely hike.