THE DRAKENSBERG MOUNTAINS – A HIKERS PARADISE
5 of the best Drakensberg Hikes, recommended by experts
Venture out into one of the most iconic mountain ranges in the World and one of South Africa’s most spectacular natural wonders, showcasing a selection of the most breath-taking views imaginable. When leaving it to the experts who have spent a considerable amount of time in this highest mountain range in South Africa, these are some of the best-recommended hikes to explore;
- Rainbow Gorge. If you’re staying at the Cathedral Peak Hotel, or somewhere close by this trail is a six-kilometre return hike which offers a delightful and serene twist into a flourishing kloof. Walk alongside the Ndumeni River while you witness rock pools, waterfalls and rapids which is surrounded by lush and green forest. One of the most spectacular scenes is the yellowwood trees which are at home here. Wondering why the name ‘Rainbow Gorge’? If you find yourself catching the sun in the perfect position you will be able to see the most amazing sight, sparkling rainbows dancing in the spray of water pouring down the sides of the kloof. This trail is rated ‘easy-to-moderate’ and takes approximately five hours.
- Injisuthi Battle Cave Walk. If you’re wanting to access the mountain wilderness, then this eleven-kilometre return walk offers just that. Starting from the Injisuthi Camp in the central Drakensberg, you can wander to your destination – a Battle Cave with the most incredible historical rock paintings. If you plan on visiting the cave itself, make sure to book a community guide at the camp to accompany you as public unaccompanied access is not permitted.
Want to know more about the rock paintings? These caves feature some of the most exquisite San paintings, including illustrations of eland, rhinos and the therianthropes (if you’re wondering what therianthropes are, we’re referring to the half-human, half-animal figures). You can also look out for paintings of Bushman shooting a bow-and-arrow, spears, holding an axe in what seems to be a scene of a ‘battle’. Let your community guide explain the possible interpretations of these amazing historic pictures.
This trail is rated as an easy route to complete and takes approximately five hours.
- Sugarloaf is about a four-hour trail and is fairly moderate in difficulty. Start this hike at The Cavern Hotel and venture up the slope, don’t worry the trail is well marked out with signs. Once you reach the sandstone ridge after travelling up a slope, you will be welcomed by a craggy Sugar Loaf gap. Make your way to the top of the plateau and find yourself in absolute awe at the views down below. When making your way back down, you will find that the path rears to the left where you might find yourself amongst bearded and Cape vultures as you return through the summit of Sugar Loaf.
- A more difficult trail that is completed over a few days and is quite strenuous is the Giant’s Cup Trail. If you plan on travelling through the foothills of the uKhahlamba – Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, right from Sani Pass through to Bushman’s Nek, then this trail is probably the most accessible. 59.3 kilometres of golden cliffs, sandstone rocks and grasslands that sway. Behold some of the best lookouts if you want to immerse yourself in streams through mountains and caves with rock paintings. Sight some of the most spectacular creatures such as eland, dassies, eagles and jackal buzzards. Each day takes you through various pools in which you can play; visit Ngwewa, Mzimkhulwana hut and Killiecrankie. There are park offices throughout the trail for you to stock up on snacks but make sure to carry supplies on this one!