This 3-day/3-night trek is perfect for those seeking to hike to the top of the Drakensberg without having to camp out in tents or carry more than a light pack – you stay in comfortable accommodation throughout. You also get to ascend to the top of the Drakensberg’s most iconic feature, the beguilingly symmetrical Drakensberg Amphitheatre, via the notorious chain ladders, and stand on the top of the Tugela Falls – don’t get too close to the edge! The approach and return hiking routes through the lower elevations of the Royal Natal National Park on the first and final day are also beautiful and rewarding. Soft adventure at its best.
- Climb to the top of the iconic Drakensberg Amphitheatre
- Experience some of the finest mountain scenery in South Africa
- Sublime trekking at lower levels through the Royal Natal National Park
- Stay in comfortable chalets (newly refurbished) at 2200m on the middle two nights – no camping!
- Stay in the excellent Cavern Hotel before your trek
- Ascend 25m chain ladders behind the Sentinel (or use the gully route)
- Private itineraries so fully flexible on dates
You’ll spend the first night at The Cavern, a friendly, family-run 3-star hotel offering comfortable accommodation on a full-board basis. There is also an excellent Zulu-owned and run B&B which we offer as a lower budget and friendly alternative. You can return to spend a post-trek night at either of these establishments, but most travel on to their next destinations in KwaZulu-Natal, often the Zulu War Battlefields, or Spion Kop, where there are very good lodges.
On the first day you’ll walk through The Cavern property, through a magnificent indigenous forest with a look at some bushman paintings at Lone Rock and then a steep bit through Sugar Loaf Gap and onto a ridge – you’ll have amazing views of the valleys in the Royal Natal National Park to your left and QwaQwa to your right, with the Amphitheatre looming up ahead. After tucking into a packed lunch above The Grotto, continue on up to Witsieshoek Mountain Resort, where you spend the night in one of their newly refurbished chalets and enjoy a buffet dinner. Witsieshoek is situated at 2,220m and commands fabulous views over the surrounding foothills. Your hike today covers about 14kms and should take about 7hrs.
At the start of the day you will be driven up the 8km of dirt road to the Sentinel car park (2,500m), where you commence your climb up the Amphitheatre via the chain ladders. You’ll climb up past the Three Witches and stop just above for your first close-up views of the main Amphitheatre wall. Continue along a contour path behind the Sentinel peak to a point where you can decide to either ascend the Gully (for those nervous of the ladders) or continue round to the ladders further on – the ladders are actually very straightforward. Once up top at 3000m, you’ll have a generally flat walk to the top of the Tugela Falls for lunch. From here you can stroll around and look at the old mountain hut and look through God’s Window for a glimpse of the falls. Those who have energy can continue up to Mount Aux Sources, located 3km away. Then it is back down to the car park, where you’ll be met by a vehicle and driven back to Witsieshoek Mountain Resort for a well-deserved hot bath and dinner. You’ll spend between about 5 and 8 hours hiking today.
The final day of hiking is by far the easiest and you’ll walk down through the Royal Natal National Park, passing through lovely protea fields and indigenous forests with clear, cold mountain streams to drink from. The hike ends at the main Royal Natal National Park Offices, where you will be met by a driver who will shuttle you back to your base accommodation where you can rejoin your car. Today’s hike lasts about 5 hours, but this can be shortened if you need to get down more quickly.
did you know?
The 1964 film “Zulu”, which depicts the battle of Rorke’s Drift and stars Stanley Baker as Lieutenant John Chard and Michael Caine as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, was filmed below the Northern Drakensberg escarpment, with the Amphitheatre providing a truly spectacular backdrop. This is actually geographically in-accurate, by a considerable margin – Rorke’s Drift is actually located in gently rolling country in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, about 200 kilometres away from the Drakensberg! It’s a great place to travel onto after this trek and Walks in Africa can set this up for you as we know it intimately.