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Visit the stunning Tugela Falls on the Drakensberg Amphitheatre hike

The Drakensberg Amphitheatre hike (also known as Sentinel Peak of Tugela Falls hike) climbs tricky gullies and nerve-wracking chain ladders, to the second-highest falls in the world.

Our adventure to explore the Tugela Falls on the Drakensberg Amphitheatre hike began by being tossed around in our 4×4 as it tackled the extremely bumpy 7 km dirt track to the start of the trailhead. At the carpark, we were met by a National Park Guard who took our fee and asked us to sign the hiking register “just in case we don’t make it back.”

The Drakensberg Amphitheatre hike is a slightly challenging day out in a remote part of South Africa. But, following a gradually ascending path that skirts the base of a massive lump of rock, high above the surrounding landscape, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences in South Africa.

For 2 hours, breath-taking vantage points display some of the best scenery the Royal Natal National Park has to offer. After that point, our necks were craned, staring up at a chain ladder that disappears over a precarious-looking ledge.

The first metal ladder, almost 100 vertical rungs creeping up the rock face, is only half the challenge. The second ladder isn’t even visible from the base.

Nevertheless, these two vertical chain ladders are all that comes between you and the best views of the Tugela Falls and the stunning Drakensberg Mountains.

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Drakensberg Hike

DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE HIKE

SUMMARY

Superb hike at high elevation with staggering views of the Tugela Falls

DISTANCE

12-kilometre round trip

ELEVATION

550 metres (Chain Ladder route) to 650 metres (Kloof Gully route) ascent and descent

5 hours (Chain Ladder route) to 6 hours (Kloof Gully route)

DIFFICULTY

Medium, however, the chain ladders may be a challenge to some people.

BEST TIME

IS THE DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE HIKE DIFFICULT ?

The Drakensberg Amphitheatre hike (also known as the Sentinel Peak or Tugela Falls hike) starts at 2500m and ascends 550m to the 3,000m summit of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre. From here the Tugela Falls plummet over the massive cliff face 1,000m to the valley floor. There are two ways up to the falls, 1) via two chain ladders and 2) via a scramble up Kloof Gully.

Apart from either Kloof Gully section or the chain ladders, the rest of the walk is fairly easy.

Initially, the path zigzags gradually up the side of the mountain with various lookouts over the vertical edge of the amphitheatre to see waves of ridges disappearing into the distance. It then skirts the basalt base of massive Sentinel Peak.

There are a few short sections where the path is exposed (requiring getting down on your bum and shimmying across) and there is a small ladder (4 steps) with a bit of a scramble over the rock at the top. All in all, nothing is too challenging and in spite of hiking at an altitude of 3,000 metres, we never found ourselves out of breath.

But after around 1 hour and 40 minutes, you need to decide whether you are going to take Kloof Gully or the chain ladders. The gully is a long hard slog up a steep boulder-strewn canyon. It requires fitness and sure footing. The chain ladders are a nerve-jangling climb up a long metal ladder attached to a vertical cliff.

We decided to take the chain ladders.

Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike

WHAT ARE THE CHAIN LADDERS LIKE?

There are two ladders you need to take to get to the top.

The first is about 100 steps. It’s pretty much straight up except for the final section which starts to curve over the top of the rockface. At times getting your footing on the ladder is a little tricky because the rungs are close to the rock. It also swings slightly as you make your way up.

It was a harrowing couple of minutes, but if you take your time and hold on nice and tight, it will be over before you know it. We certainly didn’t hear any dubious creaking or feel like it was going to give way all of a sudden.

The second ladder is easier mainly because it’s a little shorter, not quite as steep and by this stage, we’d developed a small amount of confidence.

At the top of the ladders, you’ll most likely be confronted by local Basotho people asking for money or food. They don’t know much English, so their requests can sound a little gruff. We were told not to give them money, so we made sure we had some nuts and apples to give them. This seemed to do the trick.

Once at the top, the walk to Tugela Falls is easy, but a map is very helpful. See the instructions below.

Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE HIKE

The hike to the summit of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre begins at Sentinel Car Park where you must pay R90 per person hiking permit in cash. The path is obvious and heads south for 1 km before it begins to get steeper and zigzags up towards the massive basalt rock of Sentinel Peak.

Take the short detour to the Sentinel Peak lookout, marked on our map below – the views are magnificent. Backtrack from the lookout and work your way anti-clockwise around the base of Sentinel Peak.

There are a couple of tricky (very short) traverses, a 4 step ladder, and one or two or three short exposed sections. After about 1 hour 40 minutes there is a large gully on your left and a sign laying on the ground saying that the chain ladders are closed (they were not).

It’s at the point where you need to decide if you are going to turn right to take the chain ladders or left to go up via Kloof Gully.

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CHAIN LADDER ROUTE

If you are ok with heights, then the chain ladder route is much easier.

The path up to them is gradual and most of the ascent is taken care of by the ladders. They can, however, be nerve-wracking. You need to climb two sections. The first one is almost twice the length (about 100 steps) of the second one (about 50 steps).

Once you reach the top of the ladders, the trail rises steeply for a short distance to a cairn. It is then an easy walk across the flat top of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre (3,000m) to where the Tugela falls drop over the cliff edge.

In total, this route is about 6 km (one-way) and takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes from the car park. This is the way we went.

KLOOF GULLY ROUTE

If the chain ladders are not for you, the other option is to go up via the Kloof Gully route. It’s physically more demanding scrambling up a steep narrow gully over rocky boulders but avoids the emotional stress of clambering up the ladders.

Exiting the gully (3140m) you wind your way around the flat top of the amphitheatre to the Tugela Falls. This route takes an extra half hour up and an extra half an hour back and adds another 100 m of ascent and descent. It is about 6 km (one-way), taking just over 3 hours from the car park.

Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike

TOP OF THE DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE

Whether you come up over the ladders or scramble up the gully, once at the top the rest of the hike is an easy, completely flat walk to the Tugela Falls. The path, however, is not that clear.

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So, it’s a good idea to have the area downloaded on maps.me (or google maps – see below) and track your progress to ensure you stay on the right track (more or less). It’s a wide-open space so you can’t go too wrong. However, in the interest of protecting the natural environment, please try and stay on the path as much as possible.

You’ll most likely find more Basotho people intercepting the path to request food or money from you. Either offer them some spare food (but not money) or say a polite “hello” or “no, sorry” and keep moving on.

At the Tugela Falls, the Drakensberg Amphitheatre stretches and curves into the distance. Its towering red basalt rock forms a massive and imposing cliff face which drops precipitously to a green valley. From your feet, the almost 1,000m long Tugela Falls plunges over the edge. It’s a breathtaking sight and you will want to leave at least an hour to explore.

Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike

MAP / DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE HIKE

Most of the time the path is clear and easy to see, however, there are a couple of moments when you need to pay some attention and use a map.

We also suggest you use the Map.me app. Before you leave for the hike download the area containing the Drakensberg Amphitheatre.

All the paths detailed on this walk are fully displayed on the app and since it works offline you can follow your progress and quickly spot when you go wrong. It takes all the stress of getting lost away, especially if the cloud comes in!

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.

DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE TIMINGS VIA THE CHAIN LADDERS

Our timings for the walk to the top of Tugela Falls and back using the chain ladder route took a total of 5 hours round trip. However, with views like this, you’ll definitely want to allow a bit more time to explore the top of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre. As long as there is no cloud or mist you can roam about easily on the flat summit and enjoy magnificent ever-changing views.

TUGELA FALLS / DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATER – TIMINGS

SENTINEL CAR PARK TO SENTINEL VIEWPOINT

40 minutes | 1.25km

SENTINEL VIEWPOINT TO DECISION POINT
DECISION POINT TO BOTTOM OF CHAIN LADDER

20 minutes | 1km

BOTTOM OF CHAIN LADDER TO TOP OF CHAIN LADDER

15 minutes | 150ish terrifying steps

TOP OF CHAIN LADDER TO TOP OF TUGELA FALLS

25 minutes | 1.75km

TUGELA FALLS BACK TO SENTINEL CAR PARK

2 hours 20 minutes

Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike

BEST TIME TO DO THE DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE HIKE

Summer rains (December through February) can be torrential and although you are at 3,000m temperatures can reach into the high 20s making the Tugela Falls hike tiring. In winter (June to August) the temperatures drop rapidly, and the summit can be very cold making hiking a chilling experience.

The best time to go is March to May when the rains have subsided, the temperatures comfortable and the hills are still a lush green from the winter downpours. September to November are also good for walking but as it is after the dry season the Tugela Falls may have no water in them and the hills will be a parched brown rather than a glittering green.

Whatever time of year you go try to set off early. The early morning has the best light for photos, the clearest skies and less strong winds. In particular, in summer make sure you are back by early afternoon. Torrential thunderstorms can appear from nowhere and make the chain ladders and gully slippery and dangerous.

Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike

DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE HIKE TIPS

1 – Entrance to the national park is R55 per person payable at the toll booth a few km north of Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge. Day hiking fees for the Drakensberg Amphitheatre are charged at the Sentinel Gate car park and are R90 per person. Both must be paid in cash, so bring enough money.

2 – Make sure you fill out the hiking register at the car park and sign back in when you return. It’s nice to throw the ranger a few rand for looking after your car.

3 – For most of the route, the trail conditions are relatively straightforward. However, Kloof Gully requires some scrambling and the chain ladders can be slippery (especially after rain) so we highly recommend wearing shoes with a decent grip.

4 – Download our Google Map onto your phone or use Maps.me offline maps to help you track your route. Ensure your phone is fully charged and has a compass. It can be particularly helpful if cloud and mist come down when you are at the top.

5 – Take plenty of water and food. The Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge provides pack lunches (R110) if you order the evening before.

6 – Conditions on the Drakensberg Amphitheatre can change rapidly. Take enough warm clothing and most importantly a waterproof. The storms (especially in summer) can be torrential and sudden. There is also very little shade so take sunblock and a hat.

7 – Local Basotho people may be waiting at the top of the chain ladders and near the top of the Tugela Falls. We were told not to give them money but offering them food was fine, so perhaps take some extra with you.

8 – If you don’t fancy going on your own then a guide can be hired from Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge. It is R750 per guide for up to 4 people and then a further R100 per person after that.

9 – It would be mad not to take a camera. The views are stunning!

Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike

GETTING TO THE TRAILHEAD (SENTINEL CAR PARK)

The Drakensberg Amphitheatre is in the Royal Natal National Park in a remote area on the South African Lesotho border. This hike to the top of the Tugela Falls begins at the Sentinel Car Park. Situated at 2,500m altitude it can be reached on foot or by car.

It’s either a 4-hour drive from Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg or 4 hours 30 minutes from King Shaka International Airport in Durban to the edge of the national park.

From here it’s another 7 km drive (25 minutes) over a rough and rocky road to the Sentinel car park. At the time of our visit, you needed a 4×4 to make the journey. But if you don’t have one, Witsieshoek lodge offers a round trip shuttle service to and from the car park for R150 per person for 2 or more people.

We suggest you hire your own car or join a tour because public transport in these remote areas is pretty non-existent.

CAR HIRE IN SOUTH AFRICA

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Drakensberg Amphitheatre Tugela Falls hike

WHERE TO STAY FOR THE DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE HIKE

One of the best things about accommodation in this part of South Africa is the ability to stay in excellent locations at very reasonable prices. The Witsiehoek Mountain Lodge, where we stayed, is in an enviable position. Perched on the top of a ridge – just 7 km from the start of the trail for the Drakensberg Amphitheatre hike – and with 360 degree views, sunrise and sunset was a sight to behold.

But even further afield, there are some great options that are excellent for exploring more of the area. Being a remote part of the country, most accommodation places will provide meals. We generally found the food to be pretty good, but if you are vegan or vegetarian it might be a good idea to let them know in advance.

For more planning tips read our guide to constructing your ideal South Africa itinerary.

WITSIESHOEK MOUNTAIN LODGE

The closest accommodation is the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge. It has magnificent views over the Royal Natal National Park and is the perfect base for exploring the amphitheatre. They have 2 bed bungalows and chalets plus a decent onsite restaurant with wi-fi. Guides, packed lunches and transfers can be arranged.

GREAT BASE FOR EXPLORING

BERGHOUSE AND COTTAGES

These well-equipped cottages are a 1-hour 45-minute drive to the Sentinel Car Park. However, being closer to Bergville and the main road, they are a good base for longer stays. The bottom of the amphitheatre is a 30 minutes away; the Golden Gate Highlands Park 1 hour 15 minutes; and the battlefields just over an hour.

AMPHITHEATRE BACKPACKERS LODGE

This is a remote area of South Africa and there is no public transport into the parks, making it difficult to see the area properly without a car. However, this is a good option if you are on a budget. The Durban – Johannesburg bus stops here three times a week and the hostel runs regular day trips to the top of Tugela Falls.

tugela falls hike

WHERE NEXT?

As one of our favourite places to visit for winter sun, great hiking and incredible wildlife opportunities, we’ve been to South Africa several times. Find all our writing on our South Africa Page or read these guides next.

TRAVEL TIPS

DRAKENSBERG REGION

WILDLIFE

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15 Comments

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What what stunning natural beauty!! But man, I’m not sure how I feel about climbing those ladders! That would take a truth strength of faith not to eat it! I break things easily and hurt myself without trying, that just doesn’t look like something I should ever attempt! Haha #FarawayFiles

We weren’t too thrilled about the ladders and it’s safe to say my hands were aching by the time we got to the top from holding on so tight. It is a beautiful area though.

I am not sure I’d cope with the 100 rung vertical ladder. What an adventure and incredible views. #FarawayFiles

It was worth it for the views! Thanks for stopping by Helen.

Lovely photos, and lovely writing. What an adventure. I think I’d find the ladder curving over the rock almost too much to bear! But those views are worth a few moment of jelly legs. #FarawayFiles

Thanks, Deborah. Yes, the views certainly were worth the few moments of jelly legs. We also had an immense feeling of satisfaction when we got up to the top. But, we then realised we had to get back down again!

Drakensberg looks and sounds incredible, and the views most definitely make that precarious climb worth it. #farawayfiles

The views were indeed amazing. The whole Drakensberg area was such a great place to explore.

Great views and I’m very impressed you went up those ladders – although I might have been tempted too after reading that the other route is even worse! I can imagine the sense of satisfaction at the top must have been well worth it. I think I’d find going down the ladders even scarier than going up them to be honest. Thanks for sharing your adventures on #farawayfiles

The satisfaction of getting to the top was definitely worth it, but you’re totally right, coming down was much harder than getting up. We made it though!

Oof my heart was racing at the start of reading this – those ladders sound terrifying! Sounds a bit tough for the likes of me, but a hike that’s definitely memorable! As ever – amazing pics guys! #FarawayFiles

It was a bit tough for us as well, not sure how we plucked up the courage to do it. I think it was a bit of a mind over matter situation though. Thanks, Keri.

I have been to the top of the Ampitheatre 14 times and have been up and down the chain ladders many times in all kinds of weather. It can be tricky with a heavy pack and strong wind but in good weather is really no problem at all and worth it for the views so don’t let it stop you from going.

Nice one, you must really love it there. I agree, it can be a little scary but it’s well worth it for the experience.

Please observe QwaQwa (and/or Tsheseng), area which is within the (eastern) Free State province.

The Witsieshoek lodge is in Tsheseng area within QwaQwa. One goes via the Phuthaditjhaba town to access the area.

It is a totally great area, I always try to visit in summer when I am home.

Thanks for the sharing and the beautiful photos.

We are Paul & Mark, two curious & adventurous travellers who provide practical information to help you make the most of your travels.

Drakensberg Amphitheatre & Tugela Gorge Hike

Amphitheatre in the Drakensberg Mountains

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This out-and-back hike to the Amphitheatre and Tugela Gorge is the most classic hike in the Drakensberg, with amazing views of the Amphitheatre.

Location

This hike starts at the car park 1.5 km before Thendele Hutted Camp and five kilometres from Mahai Campsite and the reception of Royal Natal National Park. Alternatively, you can hike directly from Thendele Hutted Camp itself. According to Google, it’s about 3 hours drive from Durban, and 4 from Johannesburg. However, the roads near the park itself are slow, and it could easily take 30 minutes longer.

First sign the mountain register in the car park (or at Thendele Hutted Camp). A clear path leads out of the car park, through a wooded area along the side of the Tugela River. After about 700m, you cross a tributary of this River. The path leading straight from Thendele Hutted Camp joins the main trail here.

  • Make sure to sign the mountain register in the car park before you leave.
  • Make sure to sign it again when you get back!
  • We used the Cicerone hiking guide: Walking in the Drakensberg*, to plan this hike. It also suggests other hikes here, and elsewhere in the Drakensberg.
  • This hike can get busy, so start early to avoid the crowds!
  • If you don’t want to hike the entire way, you can turn around whenever you want since it’s an out-and-back trip.
  • Take a picnic to enjoy at the pools at the far end.
  • Why not try the nearby Plowman’s Kop Loop
  • Read more about Royal Natal National Park, and our 12 Day Drakensberg Trip.

Drakensberg Amphitheatre

You will almost immediately see very fine views of the Amphitheatre stretched before you, one of the most impressive sights in the Drakensberg Mountains.

Amphitheatre and Policeman’s Helmet

The path continues, with no significant climb, towards the Amphitheatre. You will see strange rock formations, including the Policeman’s Helmet. This is a funny shaped blob of rock higher on your right-hand side. You can also hike to it (see our Royal Natal National Park guide for more hiking ideas).

Remember to keep looking back, as the views of the views down the valley you’ve just walked up are beautiful.

More Amphitheatre views

Tugela Gorge

As you get closer to the mountains, the Tugela River valley narrows, and more trees appear. This is the start of Tugela Gorge.

Boulder hopping near the end

The trail eventually reaches the river bed. Here you need to boulder hop as the path is no longer clear. Continue upwards.

After a short while, you reach a more open area covered in boulders, at the confluence of another river. This is a great picnic spot and the endpoint for us. The entrance to the very narrow section of Tugela Gorge is just up ahead. We peered in through the beginning, walking a few meters before we found it was too wet to continue.

Another option to continue a bit further towards the mountains is to avoid the narrow gorge altogether. To do this, you would take the ladder up the rock face before the gorge. However, this way was closed when we visited (2019).

After having a break at the entrance of the gorge, we headed back the way we came. The views of the Amphitheatre were still lovely on the way back, one of the great sights of the Drakensberg.

When we reached the car park, we signed back in at the mountain register and set off back to Mahai campsite for lunch. That afternoon we did the Plowman’s Kop Loop, another beautiful half-day hike.

Click to find out more about Royal Natal National Park, Cathedral Peak where we went next, or the rest of the Drakensberg.

FAQS: Drakensberg Amphitheatre Hike

The Amphitheatre is a spectacular 5km-long near-vertical cliff over 1000 m tall. It forms an incredible arc shape and is one of the most famous sights in the Drakensberg mountains.

The Amphitheatre is towards the northern end of the Drakensberg mountain chain, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is just next to the Lesotho border.

The best views of the Amphitheatre are from the lower section of Royal Natal National Park. Specifically, fantastic views can be had either on the hike to Tugela Gorge, from Policeman’s Helmet Rock, or at Thendele Hutted Camp.

Tugela Gorge is part of a river valley in Royal Natal National Park, in KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. It is reached by hiking 6 km from the car park near Thendele Hutted Camp.

You can start the Tugela Gorge hike either directly from Thendele Hutted Camp or from the small car park nearby. This car park is signed and about 1 km before Thendele in the middle of a fairly tight switchback in the road.

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Hiking in the Drakensberg

The Drakensberg mountains offer a wide range of walking and hiking trails, from easy strolls around the many resorts to strenuous hikes to the summit. Waterfalls, rivers, magnificent vistas and places of beauty and solitude are all there, just waiting for you to don your walking shoes (or hiking boots!) and explore.

Most resorts offer advice on the local walks and many provide organised walks with a guide. There are local guides available and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife produces an excellent series of maps. These are essential to anyone planning extended hikes or summiting.

When setting off on a walk please remember that the weather can be very changeable. The mountains are unforgiving to those who take the dangers lightly. Wear the correct footwear and clothing. And don’t forget a hat and sunscreen. Even in winter, the sun burns at high altitudes. Carry water and a jacket. To those setting off on longer hikes, especially to the summit, remember to complete the mountain register and to plan adequately.

The following selection of hikes is by no means comprehensive, either in directions or variety, but is intended to highlight the range of hiking experiences available.

Activities

Drakensberg Treks

Active Escapes

Umphafa Berg Tours

Leap Adventures – Clarens

Itchyfeet SA

Berg Adventures

Sasi Bush Lodge

Mnweni Cultural and Hiking Centre

Drakensberg Hikes

Meander Hut, Giant's Castle

Drakensberg Hikes Newsletter #23

Drakensberg Contour Path, Trails and Huts There has been an increasing awareness of the deteriorating condition of the trails, main contour path and huts in .

Hiking in the Drakensberg

Drakensberg Hikes Newsletter #21

Visiting the Drakensberg We receive questions daily from people who would like to know more about the Drakensberg, require assistance for a hike, have questions .

Hiking in the spring in the Drakensberg Mountains

Drakensberg Hikes Newsletter #20

Amphitheatre Chain Ladders On Saturday 21 September 2019, one of the shackles that bolts the bottom, right-hand chain ladder to the rocks on the Amphitheatre .

ROYAL NATAL NATIONAL PARK
A wide range of easy to moderate walks are offered by the local resorts, including Sigubudu Ridge, Surprise Ridge and Cannibal Cavern, Gudu Bush and Falls, Plowman’s Kop and the Grotto.

The main feature of the area is the Amphitheatre, flanked by the Sentinel (3165m) and Beacon Buttress on the one side and the Devils Tooth and Eastern Buttress (3047m) on the other. The mighty Tugela river rises on the summit, just in from the edge of the escarpment, at Mont-aux-Sources, and then plunges 948 meters over the escarpment in a series of cascades. The base of the falls can be reached by a 7km walk up the spectacular Tugela Gorge. The summit of the Amphitheatre and Mont-aux-Sources can be reached via the chain ladder, which is a two-hour hike from the Sentinel Car Park. Heading South along the summit are the Ifidi Pinnacles and cave, the Icidi Buttress, Stimela Ridge Mbundini Abbey, Madonna and her worshipers and Fangs Cave. Passes at Ifidi, Icidi, Mbundini and Fangs give access to the summit, but are severe and should only be attempted by experienced hikers accompanied by a guide, with correct equipment and planning.

MWENI
Heading south from the Amphitheatre you come to the Mweni with its distinctive Mweni Pinnacles. Here the local community has established a cultural village (which can be reached from Bergville on the Rookdale Road) where you can either stay and take day walks in the area or set off (guides are available) on longer walks. The passes mentioned above are accessed from this area, as are the Mweni and Rockeries pass. The Mweni baths and Maquela’s Kraal offer shorter outings.

MWENI TOURISM CENTRE info@mweni.org

CATHEDRAL RANGE
South of the Mweni lies the Cathedral Range – the distinctive features are Cathedral Peak (3004m), Bell (2930m) Inner and Outer Horn (3005m) and (Cleft Peak 3281m). This area offers a wealth of walks ranging from the easy to extreme. Doreen Falls and Mushroom Rock lie near the Hotel. Rainbow Gorge and Tryme offer two different experiences. You can visit the trout hatchery near the hotel and continue to Neptune’s pools and Xeni Cave. Guided hikes to Bushmen paintings in the Ndedema Gorge are on offer from the Didima Visitors Centre. For the more adventurous the Mlambonja, Tseketseke and Organ Pipes passes provide a route to the summit ranging from severe to extreme!

MONKS COWL, CATHKIN PEAK & CHAMPAGNE CASTLE
Cathkin Peak (3149m) and Champagne Castle (3377m), with Sterkhorn, Tower and Amphlet in the foreground and the Dragon’s Back in the background dominate the Champagne Valley. Monks Cowl lies between Cathkin and Champagne peaks and within the area is only seen from Barry’s grave. Easy walks in this area include Barry’s grave, the Fern Forrest and Grotto which are reached from the Drakensberg Sun Hotel; The bushmen paintings and saw pits – from the Champagne Valley School (a guide is required): The Sterkspruit Gorge, Sterkspruit falls and the Sphinx are in the Monks Cowl Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife area. You can continue with the Sphinx path, past Breakfast Stream to the contour path at Blind Mans Corner and walk the contour path in either direction right at the base of the mighty peaks! An alternative route back from Blind Mans is via Keartlands – this is more severe than past the Sphinx. The summit is reached via Gray’s Pass (severe) or Ships Prow Pass (extreme). The contour path offers connecting routes to the Cathedral area (Zulu Cave and Eland Cave) as well as to Wonder Valley and the Injasuti in the south.

INJASUTI
Injasuti is part of the Giants Castle area, but is accessed from Loskop (Note: the road is poor). The Old Woman Grinding Corn, the spectacular Trojan Wall, the Red Wall and the free standing Injasuti Triplets are the features of this secluded valley. The contour path linking to Cathkin can be accessed via Van Heyningen’s Pass or up Cataract Valley. A guided hike to Battle Cave, which features the paintings of a battle between feuding clans of bushmen, can be booked. Beyond Battle cave is Lower Injasuti Cave – a good overnight stop. Marble baths and Grindstone Caves provide moderate half day walks.

GIANTS CASTLE
The Massive form of the Giant, which is formed of a ridge and peak, marks the end of the Central berg – from here the range swings southward. Giants Castle is home to Main Caves, which are a short 2km or 40min walk from the Camp. Here a Bushman tableaux and paintings are on view (The tour must be booked at the camp). Short forest, river and bush walks start at the camp. Langalibalele, Bannerman and Giants Castle Passes form access routes to the Summit, ranging from severe to extreme.

MKHOMAZI
The Mkhomazi Wilderness Area reaches south from Giants Castle to Sani Pass and includes the Loteni, Vergelegen and Mzimkhulwana Nature Reserves. In this area the escarpment or high Berg is not near the rest camps and access points, however if you are staying at one of the camps there are good short walks in the Little Berg and the fishing is excellent. The Bushmen Rock Art Interpretive Centre at Kamberg features walking tours to Game Pass Shelter – one of the important rock art sites in South Africa.

MZIMKHULU
The Giant’s Cup and Hodgson Peak are the distinctive features of the Southern Berg. Well known is the Giant’s Cup Trail that takes 5 days to cover a distance of 60,3km. Accommodation is in huts at the overnight stops and bookings can be made at the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife on 033 845 1000. Walks in the foothills are available from the hotels in the area.

Climbing and abseiling
Mountain climbing and abseiling are popular berg adventure activities. However it is important that you do so in the presence of an experienced climber who knows the area.

The Mountain Club of South Africa (KZN Section)
0829905877 mcsakzn@mcsa.org.za

ACTIVE ESCAPES
Tel 084 240 7277 tours@active-escapes.co.za
Summit the ‘Roof of Africa’ & Tugela Falls on your 3 day Amphitheatre slackpacking trail. We are the hiking, biking and adventure specialists.

BERG ADVENTURES
Tel 082 679 4244 drakhike@gmail.com
Situated in Estcourt. Specialising in Drakensberg hiking trips ranging from one day to multiday trips. All trips lead by registered guides.

HIKE THE BERG
Tel 079 493 6424 nickgreville1950@gmail.com
Situated in Cathkin Valley. Experienced, qualified guide as well as all the supplies you will need – backpack, foam roll, sleeping bag, cutlery, crockery, cooker and all meals.

ITCHYFEET SA
Tel 072 032 1557 gustav@itchyfeetsa.co.za
Paddle white water, climb rock and walk mountains! We operate in the Central Drakensberg and areas around the town of Harrismith. Professional guiding. No experience required.

SPANAFRICAN ADVENTURES
Tel 076 459 9127 info@spanafrican-adventures.co.za
Specialists in guided hiking in the Drakensberg. We can organize hiking experiences in any region of the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site

Source https://anywhereweroam.com/drakensberg-amphitheatre-tugela-falls-hike/

Source https://www.ostrichtrails.com/africa/south-africa/tugela-gorge-and-amphitheatre/

Source https://www.drakensbergexperience.com/drakensberg-activities/hiking/

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