Here is my Sentinel to Mnweni hike report that a bunch of us did in March 2019. The day started off with us driving to our camp at Sterkfontein dam. This is a beautiful dam in the Free state with stunning views looking towards the Drakensberg. It is also the 2nd biggest dam in South Africa and is actually fed by water from the Tugela river in KwaZulu Natal. Yup and if you want to know more you will have to join me on a hike.
Anyway after a lekker braai and visit we drove to the start at the Sentinel car park early the next morning. The day started off crystal clear but clouds were forming on the escarpment edge as we got closer. We were not scared though because it made the mountains look very dramatic and it wasn’t raining.
After lunch above the 3 witches we strolled along to the chain ladders.
Some people are a bit nervous climbing the ladders but everyone manages and end up with a huge sense of accomplishment. On top was a lovely walk to our camp next to the Tugela falls. These are the 2nd highest waterfall in the world so the views are ridiculous.
I am sure the sun rise from up here is the best people see in a long time.
So after thorally enjoying the early morning views we head out on day 2. Soon I get to lecture everyone on how to tell which country they are in. I test them often. SA or Lesotho? The morning is relatively flat for Lesotho and we have lunch by a mountain stream this side of Icidi pass. The day is nice and clear but luckily a breeze keeps us cool. After lunch there is a long uphill to a crazy view looking towards the Mnweni cutback and Cathedral peak way ahead. Tonight we camp overlooking the Mnweni needles and Madonna and her worshipers.
While enjoying the mountains we got to check out a Bearded vulture cruising around.
What a treat. Day 3 dawned clear but as usual clouds started forming on the escarpment edge. We got to check out views over Lesotho including the Letseng diamond mine as well as dramatic views through the clouds onto South Africa. Lunch was next to a tiny stream by the Mnweni cutback. The higher you are the better the views but the streams are smaller. Then over the mighty Orange river and to my favorite spot in the Drakensberg.
The vulture colony near Rockeries is a special place.
The mist was swirling about a fair bit but we still got some amazing views overlooking Mnweni. Cape vultures were flying around and the whole experience was lovely. The evening was spent talking about vultures and how important they are to our natural world.
The next morning we woke up to thick mist and rain. Hiking in this weather is not fun especially if you can see anything so after a group meeting we decided to hang about at the vulture camp. It ended up being worth it as the next day was crystal clear. However it meant going down Rockeries pass. Two of us?? wanted to try out Spalies gully. Certainly not for sissies. The rest of us went the usual way down. The views from the top of the pass were worth the walk. We had lunch at the station (join me on a hike if you want to know why it is called the station) A bit further down the valley we arrived to see our tents up but only one porter. What?
Anyway the river called us to have a dip.
As we were relaxing in my huge mess tent with a bit of drizzle we looked up and there was Sdudla. My head porter and Mnweni business man had shown up with a donkey loaded with beer. Oh well.
The last day was lovely and clear and we had a relaxed stroll down the valley to our cars waiting at the end of the road. Some of us had to drive back to Johannesburg but the rest of us finished off with the best pizza at my good friend’s pizza place in Pietermaritzburg.
Drakensberg Hiker was started and is owned by Ian Shooter. He knows and loves the Drakensberg mountains as well as meeting interesting people. So what better than to put into practice the philosophy of "do what you love and love what you do". And so, Drakensberghiker was born. We take people on hikes, treks or backpacking all over the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa; we do what we love and we love what we do!