Hiking Trails

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Crouching Cricket
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Hiking Trails

Post by Crouching Cricket » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:34 pm

Hello fellow climbers,

I am really keen to do some multi-day hiking trails this year and need some advice. I have been trying, rather unsuccessfully, to research which hiking trails are good but I really can't seem to find much info.

There are the obvious 'otter' and 'tsitsikama' options but I am looking for some options in Drakensberg and mpumalanga.

I would like to do a multi-day trail that requires me to sleep in a tent or in huts but preferably looking for options that leave you fairly isolated (read about the Giants cup trail and saw that you're almost always near some sort of road which I'd preferably like to avoid).

I also see that some trials are classified as severe, extreme etc. What does this really mean? Are these trails really as severe as they say? Would climber with fitness, a keen sense of adventure and a sense of humour be able to get through them or do I need to be Bear Grylls' bigger, stronger cousin?

Any advice about trail options would be greatly appreciated.

Matt.

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Wes
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by Wes » Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:59 pm

I have done 2 long hikes, namely the Amatola and the Outaniqua

Apparently the Amatola is the hardest hike in SA, due to the long days and speep climbs. It is also quite isolated. Totally amazing hike!!

The Outaniqua was amazing but quite near to civilization and there are a number of jeep tracks that can be used as escape routes.

I would recommend both.

Hope this helps

justincilliers
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by justincilliers » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:12 pm

I second that, Outeniqua is an excellent hike... I would definately recommend it...

I have no experience, however, with hikes in the drakensberg...

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emile
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by emile » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:15 pm

Fanie Botha, Magoeba's Kloof (done both) & Num-num looks good.

uGo
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by uGo » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:30 pm

Hi Matt

I would say doing some things in the Cederberg and Drakensberg is highly reccomended, but as far as I know for both (I have more experience in the Drakensberg) it is better to throw your own hike together. Decide how hectic you want to make it, keep your chedule flexible and have fun. Meeting up with someone who has done some hiking in the areas definitely helps, especially if there is a map handy.

In the Drakensberg head up some pass, find some cave, hike on the escarpment, go down, up again if your legs still have it in them, cover many miles on the littleberg contour paths etc. It is worth while to know a bit about where you are going - some of the passes are rather extreme, whilst others, although rated "rock" are quite doable, even with a heavy pack. It is easy to get away from people, though you are likely to see more hikers on the easier, low down sections.

If you want to get away from everything, head up to Naukluft in Namibia. It is 8 days of fairly heavy hiking in the Naukluft National Park. Fantastic landscape and scenery with quite a bit of wildlife to spot as well (when we were there a few years back we found a Gemsbok so freshly pulled down by a leopard that the flies have hardly settled)

Pofadder apparently has a very nice 5 day trail. Fairly hard (have never done it) and quite interesting.

Do the Swellendam hike. I have done part, and it is stunning. protea flowering seaon is the best time, and not when it is too warm, for it gets crazy hot.

I know there are some (or at least one) very nice hikes in Mpumalanga, but their names escape me now. If I remember I will post again.

Severity ratings are very hard to gauge. I have done some hikes rated as "really tough" and found them to be ok, and vice versa (though less often - guide books er on the side of caution). I think the biggest requirement (after some basic fitness and not being stupid) is just a desire to get out there and be happy fighting it out with the hills whilst taking in our amazing country

Have a blast!
Hugo

PS Fanie botha and Magoebaskloof - those ring pleasant bells from many many years ago...

Crouching Cricket
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by Crouching Cricket » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:53 pm

Thanks! Definitely some amazing looking trails. Amatola looks like something quite extraordinary as does Naukluft.

Keep them coming.

ccjoubert
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by ccjoubert » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:00 pm

I am sure the Drakensberg would really give you what you're looking for!

You will however not experience the best of the berg, by going on hiking trails like the Giants cup trail, the beauty of the berg is that you can just follow any path, and stitch your trip together which ever way you like. Planning a trip can already be fun.

A typical Drakensberg trip would be going up to the escarpment via a pass, contouring over Lesotho and going down another pass. There are of course many easier paths you can follow, without going up to the escarpment. There is an overnight hut at the amphitheater, but apart from that you will have to sleep in a cave or tent.

There is a series of 6 maps you can buy from MountainMailOrder that shows all the paths in the South African side. Lesotho you can hike just about anywhere.

For more info about the passes, the best is to go to www.vertical-endeavour.com, they have a section about each pass including the difficulty, rating, GPS coordinates and more.

Usually any Drakensberg trip where you go up to the escarpment(except starting at the car park) would be classified 'severe', this should excite rather that deter you.

Hope you have a lot of fun,

uGo
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by uGo » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:37 pm

Almost forgot, a very worthy link for Drakensberg info:

http://www.berg.co.za/

mokganjetsi
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by mokganjetsi » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:45 pm

drakensberg rules for a wilderness experience. love the freedom to go whichever way you feel like. get the maps mentioned, a gps, pass discriptions and hit it :thumleft:

btw, i got the pass descriptions from the supertraverse site in a word doc - pm me your e-mail address and i'll mail it.

the best Berg hike i've done: Mnweni cutback; go up Fangs pass; sleep behind the hanging valleys, sleep in Mponjwane Cave; go down Rockeries pass (4/5 days). mnweni cutback is as remote and spectacular as it gets - favourite area in the Berg.

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Gustav
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by Gustav » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:25 pm

http://www.thenum-numtrail.co.za/

It is close to 'Boven, so you can climb the day after :bom:
Gustav
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013 257 0363
climb @t rocrope dot com

Crouching Cricket
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by Crouching Cricket » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:01 pm

Great stuff guys; really starting to get excited about it now. I really like the idea of carving your own way through the berg, sleeping in caves, and generally be unimpeded. Definitely going to start plans to make my own trip :thumleft:

As for Boven Gustav; coming there for 5 days of climbing / adventure in April so definitely going to see some action there.

Thanks again guys,

Matt

mokganjetsi
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:04 am

i've been playing around on the vertical endeavour website but could not really find proper pass descriptions (?); only waypoints - maybe looking in the wrong place.

anyways, the supertraverse descriptions (compiled by stijn & co after actually doing the passes) are a gem of accurate info. i paste an example below (star & difficulty gradings included :) ). will see if i can pdf the document and then have it included under the "routes section" here.

Fangs Pass ***** (7/10)

In most hikers’ opinions, this is the most spectacular and enjoyable pass in the Mnweni area and even the entire Drakensberg. Navigation in the pass itself is relatively easy despite the lack of a path and this lets you rather admire the awesome pinnacles, towering buttresses and the never-ending view of the Mnweni little berg stretching beneath you. This pass is a definite must for any hiker who ever gets a chance to explore the area.

Access: Fangs Pass is accessed by a long day’s walk-in (17 km) from the Mnweni Cultural Centre. The Mbundini River valley leaves the Mnweni River just before Shepherd’s cave. The pass starts at a small waterfall where the Fangs tributary joins the Mbundini River.

Details: The distance from the small waterfall to the top of Fangs Pass is 4 km with an altitude gain of 1000 m.

Route: From the small waterfall at the joining of the Fangs tributary and the Mbundini River, ignore the path which continues up the ridge and follow the Fangs tributary instead. Make your own route up the pass, following the boulder bed of this tributary all the way up to the steep grassy slopes near the top of the pass. Make sure you avoid going up the right-hand (northern) fork of the pass and stick to the larger, left-hand (southern) fork all the way to the top. There are a few really simple rock scrambles towards the middle of the pass but nothing serious enough to call Fangs Pass a rock pass. Once the grassy slopes can be accessed, follow them all the way to the small cairn marking the top of the pass at 3000m.

Finding the pass from the escarpment: There is a small river valley heading up to the escarpment just south of the point where the river running parallel to the escarpment edge joins the river coming from the Mbundini Abbey. The small cairn marking the top of Fangs Pass is situated in the right-hand (southerly) saddle at the top of this valley about 100m in altitude above the river.

Overnight Spots: There are a couple of nice campsites near the small waterfall at the bottom of the pass. Fangs Cave is a large cave which sleeps about 8 people and offers some very good shelter. It is situated about 100m in altitude up a large side gully on the left-hand (south) side of Fangs Pass, about 200m in altitude below the top of the pass. There is, as usual, plenty of good camping on the escarpment itself.

Water: As the route follows the river all the way up, water is plentiful until the river dries up about halfway up the pass. The next available water is the strong-flowing river on the escarpment about 1 km from the top of Fangs Pass.
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uGo
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by uGo » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:07 am

Hey Mok

I am having some trouble accessing the SuperTraverse site. I can only get the Giant's Castle are's pass descriptions. Do you have a link? I need to plan a 4 day hike from Giant's Castle reserve to either Champaigne Castle or Catherdral peak area. Cathedral would probably be a bit too much distance given that neither of the party will be particularly fit.

There is quite a long section there on the Lesotho side for which I do not have path info. Anyone with experience there? If the going is fairly reasonable then I may just hit a line through Lesotho

Thanks

mokganjetsi
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:46 am

jip, the supertraverse site is no more. i have the pass descriptions in word format - pm me your e-mail address and i will fwd it. if you get the maps it should be clear what the best route to take is - they are very detailed; showing all existing trails (even the ones used by the basotho cattle herders on the escarpment); makes it easy to plan your trip. you can even read approximate gps waypoints from the maps. btw, GPS is essential in the Berg when you venture into unknown areas - bad weather with low visibility can happen anytime.

https://www.mountainmailorder.co.za/ind ... uctId=1637

mokganjetsi
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:49 am

uGo, are you guys doing the hike out to mafadi?

Papabear
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by Papabear » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:05 pm

Hi there.

We are going to the Berg in april from the 24 to the 27. Wil be hiking for 4 days. You are welcome to join.

uGo
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by uGo » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:30 pm

Sorry for the hijack Matt, but I hope the enthusiams for the Berg helps in getting you there

Hey Johan

yeah, the double long weekend is indeed a good time. We are there at pretty much the same time, but a few days earlier.

Mok: We are starting at the Giant's castle resort. I was very keen on getting to Rolands Cave (Windy Gap) since I doubt my dad has been there. Yeah, i hav a rather old Garmin Vista. It has saved my ass in the past with a setting sun in winter and a desperate search for the path to Rolands cave. Batteries died with "5m to destination", after which i found it. Was an epic getting 4 others across the ledge to the cave, in the dark.

hijack off

Stijn
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by Stijn » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:45 pm

Hey guys

Yes, my supertraverse site died :(

But the pass descriptions have all been uploaded onto www.vertical-endeavour.com - you'll find them under the blogs section. Gald they've actually been of use to other berg hikers :thumleft:

Enjoy.

Papabear
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by Papabear » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:20 pm

Hi uGo.

How bad is the ledge to Roland cave. Planing to sleep there one night, i have never used it. And will it fit 6 or 7 people.

Thanks

uGo
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by uGo » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:27 pm

Hey Stijn!

Yes, they are fantastic! Thanks!

The ledge is fairly small, but it is no problem passing, as long as you have a head for heights. I won't reccomend it in bad weather as it could get slippery. The cave below are not nearly as nice, but are definitely a better option in rain. The cave is rated for 6 people and is very flat with FANTASTIC views

To get an idea of where it is:
Image

S29°00.929 E29°11.318 at 3 099 from http://www.berg.co.za/roland%27s_cave.htm

[EDIT: I am not sure if this is the cave or the start of the ledge. The latter would be of more help and is what I used to get there.]

They also have some more info there

WikiDave
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by WikiDave » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:42 pm

The Berg is definitely the place to go if you looking for an adventure!
Agreed Mok, the Mnweni area is one of the most beaytiful parts of the Berg for a 4-5 day trip. Alternatively a trip from Sentinel car park to Cathedral peak Hotel gives you beautiful views of the high Berg.
Rolands cave will sleep 7 comfi.There are 2 bolts on the ledge
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ccjoubert
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by ccjoubert » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:55 pm

The drakensberg pass info is a bit hard to find on the site, but it contains all the information of the supertraverse by Stijn and some more passes. Here is the link.
http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/drake ... asses.html

Zenbaas
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Re: Hiking Trails

Post by Zenbaas » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:05 pm

Excellent thread. Bookmarked :) We will be doing the Num-num later this year in Mpumalanga which should be awesome. Another multi-day hike which may be wirth mentioning is Kaapsehoop near nelspriut. It's not everyone cup of tea but we thoroughly enjoyed it. You can pretty much make it anywhere from 1 to many days.

Havent't hiked in the Berg yet but it is very high on my to do list.

I've also heard that Wolkberg is amazing, but also not for the feint hearted :)

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