3 Day Drakensberg Slackpacking Adventure Frequently Asked Questions
What you need to know about the 3 day Slackpacking Adventure in the Northern Drakensberg
The pick-up location for the tour?
The pick-up location for the tour is Steyn City Clubhouse – click here for directions.
What if I selected the self-drive option?
If you are going to be driving down by yourself in your own car you would need to meet us at the Royal Natal parks Board camping site. The meeting time is between 10am and 10:30am.
Why we can’t pick you up from you home?
Pure logistics are to blame. We have over 12 people to pick up. So you can imagine the nightmare of driving all over Johannesburg to the various areas to pick up over 12 people. We would not only have some grumpy clients, (especially the ones we picked up first) but we would only get to leave Johannesburg way behind schedule.
The departure time?
The bus leaves at 5am sharp. Please could you be at the Club House by at least 4:45am in order to give us time to pack your luggage and get everyone sorted. We know it is early and you would rather be cuddled up with your favorite teddy bear, but we have a tight schedule to keep to so please could you not be lateJ If you don’t have a car or your better half refuses to get up that early to drop you off….sorry for you. It’s gonna have to be Uber or roller-skates I’m afraid.
What South Africa Adventures supplies on the tour?
This is what we supply on the trip. Please refer to the section on what you will need to bring
- 2 man tents
- Cup, spoon, bowel and plate.
- Park Fees
- Breakfast on the mountain (we make a delicious Drakensberg style oats that includes peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and sunflower seeds)
- Dinner on the mountain ( there are 2 nights. The first night would be a braai with salads. The second night is a potjie). Obviously you would need to let us know if you are vegetarian or vegan so we can make a plan accordingly.
Do I get my own tent?
Nope. If you do not have a partner you are going to have to find a friend. If you can’t make friends we will assign a friend to you. And of course the pairing will be kept gender based. So no ladies… we are not going to put you in a tent with a complete stranger. So no hanky panky on this hike please. Unless of course a budding romance is fired up on the hike and circumstances dictate otherwise, we may turn a blind eye. The tents are 3 man tents but we put 2 people in them. See how kind we are hey? That gives you space for your hiking bags as well in the tent.
What about lunch?
Our modus Operandi in the mountains is all about keeping the rhythm and momentum going. We take breaks every 30 minutes for about 10 minutes. That gives you time to fuel upon snacks, energy bars, nuts etc.You will have to bring you own lunch. You will need a lunch pack for Day 1 and Day 2.
What do we suggest for snacks?
You are going to need snacks for basically 2 days. Now don’t go stock up on heavy, bulky stuff. We suggest a mixture of nuts, biltong, energy bars, and dried fruit. And try compartmentalizing the food into small zip lock bags for ease of use and convenience. You may want to also consider a powdered energy drink or rehydrate solution to help with energy. Just bare in mind you are going to be burning some serious calories. And for all you protein only type, may we suggest you drop that idea for this hike. Try and get snacks that cover carbohydrates ( 60% of your RDA), Fats (20% of your RDA) and protein (30 % of your RDA).
What equipment would I need for the hike?
Ok, so you are going to spending 2 nights camping in the Royal Natal Park board camp site. There are showers available!!!
These are the basic things you will need:
- A 30 litre backpack ( for your lunch, water, cell phone and rain jacket)
- Sleeping bag.
- Sleeping Mat ( you can get cheap ones at any hiking shop)
- Waterproof jacket. We are not sure what the weather will do in the Drakensberg but we need to plan for the rain.
- 3 pairs of hiking socks
- Trail shoes/takkies or hiking boots
- Buff to help protect your face from the sun
- 3 x hiking shirts
- 2 x hiking pants ( shorts are cool)
- Walking poles ( optional)
- Wetwipes/toilet paper
- Warm jersey for camp
- Clothing for the evenings
- Towel for a shower
- Water Bottles.
- Camp Chair
What happens in the evenings?
After the hike you have time to shower. Then its dinner by about 7:30pm and of course a few beers around the fire. Please remember to bring a camping chair.
What are the hiking conditions, terrain and difficulty levels like on the hike?
So, lets break it down day by day.
Travel day. We aim to leave Johannesburg by 5am. We take the 4.5 hour drive down to the Royal Natal National Park. Upon arrival, we stretch our legs and enjoy lunch before we start with our first hike. The hike today involves a 8km round hike up The Crack and down the Mudslide. The hike offers some incredible views of The Sentinel and Amphitheatre Cliff Face. The hike is a tad challenging and there are a few uphills that will challenge you. We should be back in camp by 5:30 pm. get you settled into your tents and you have an hour or so to enjoy a warm shower and return for a scrumptious meal around the fire. And don’t worry…the meal is prepared by our cook. After dinner, enjoy a beer or 10 and cuddle up with your favourite teddy bear for a nice sleep.
Wake up call at 6am. Breakfast is served at 7am so you have an hour to wake up, shower or moan at your wife. You should be ready to rock n roll by 8:30am. We will take the 10 minute drive to the start of the Gorge Hike. The hike today covers 14km over about 5 hours. The terrain is pretty flat and is totally doable. We will have a picnic lunch at halfway at the tunnel section. A great place to swim. We should be back from the hike by 3pm. The rest of the afternoon is all yours to relax, swim in the rivers or drink beer by the fire. Our cook will have dinner ready by 7pm.
Wake up call at 6am. Wake up call at 6am. Breakfast is served at 7am so you have an hour to wake up, shower or moan at your wife. You should be ready to rock n roll by 8:30am. We will take you on a 5km hike to Dooley Falls. We should be back by 12pm. We then pile you into the vehicle and make our way back to Johannesburg. We aim to be back by about 5pm
What if I am too slow for the group while hiking?
Stress not. We have enough guides to handle all the group dynamics. So you can choose to join the fast, medium or slow group. And the route is also pretty well marked so if you decide to turn back it is easy enough to find camp.
What if it rains?
So what if it rains you ask? Well then we dish out a big dollop of sympathy and carry on with the hike. Obviously you are going to have to ensure you have yourself waterproofed.
Do I need Gaitors?
If you are asking ‘what are those?’ then probably not. In fact I have never worn them and I have been up there like 250 times. Gaitors are used to keep snow out of your boots. And rain. But I find my hiking pants cover the boots so they keep the rain out. And the possibility of snow is minimal.
Do I need hiking boots or are trail shoes sufficient?
Yeah you can get away with trail shoes or takes. Just bear in mind that if it rains you are going to get wet feet. If you cool with that and promise not to bleat in our poor guides ear about wet feet..then we cool with it.
Water bottles vs bladders
If you are looking for approval on a bladder then you’ve come to the wrong place. I have spent way too much time in the mountains to see the disadvantages of a bladder. They are squishy. They are difficult to pack in your backpack. They leak. The mouth pieces break. And they are not easy to fill with water which is sometimes a freezing trickle from a rock. And you never know how much you have drunk. I prefer 2x 1 litre Nalgene water bottles with a wide mouth- Easy to fill up-Easy to drink from- Versatile. Easy to clean.
Do we need water purification tablets?
No. The water in the Drakensberg is pure. No human settlement and no animals to pollute the water. Sometimes you get a few floating things like grass and the likes but nothing that will kill you. And water purification drops are not going to dissolve the grass particles either. We have never had an upset stomach from the water.
What about wees and poohs?
Okay so there are a few rules and procedures when it comes to this wonderful human experience in the mountains. First of all let us star of by telling you that there are no toilets in the mountains. Eish. So you are going to have to find a suitable spot for your business. The modus operandi? Dig a whole and a) burn the toilet paper or b) keep it in a ziplock bag and carry the paper out with you. We leave the mountain as we found it!!!! No trace that we were ever there. And of course you are going to have to bear with us in terms of where you can go. The mountain is pretty limited in terms of space due to the terrain. And privacy is also a big concern. So we will work out a plan on the mountain in terms of how where and how. All part of the experience right?
But…..there are obviously toilets in the campsite.
What are we going to be eating on the hike?
So we are going to be bringing our very own mountain chefess Emma, who has worked out the art of creating tasty and nutritious food in the mountains.
Breakfast: oats with peanut butter, honey and cinnamon.
Dinners: Depending on her mood, Emma will conjure up a really cool meal. We keep things pretty healthy. So no 2 minute noodles. She will create potjie with quinoa, couscous, potatoes, onions, vegetables and a secret sauce with either chicken or snake. The second night will be a braai with potato salad or something delicious. Obviously if you are vegetarian there will be a vegetarian version. We have your booking forms with your requirements so stress not. And please be kind to Emma. Cooking in the mountains is not easy. And we don’t want you to get the ‘special’ order.
What happens at meal times?
You will be assigned a plate, spoon and cup at the beginning of the hike. It is yours for the duration of the hike. At meal times you present yourself in an orderly fashion please ( no biting, scratching or pushing allowed) and help yourself to Emmas delicious food. Buffet…. but mountain style!!! After you have finished eating, there will be a basin of hot water for you to clean your bowl, spoon and cup with. Then of course……put them away safely for the next meal. You don’t want to be eating with your hands from a rock if you misplace them. At the end of the hike we will collect the mountain cutlery from you again.
It’s my first overnight hike ever and I pretty freaked out!!!
That’s super cool. In fact 80% of the people joining the group are also on their first overnight hike. So there will be a lot of people walking the same path as you. So take it easy and enjoy the experience. Of course there is going to be pre-climb anxiety. That is super normal. We have been taking people up mountains all over the world and it is normal. Let’s face it…you are on an adventure. It’s not meant to be predictable. Adventure is all about stepping out of your comfort zone into a world of uncertainty. And that is what mountains are all about- Uncertainty. We deal with whatever comes our way. Bad weather, cold, smelly socks etc etc.
Please be kind and understanding to our guides.
Sometimes things cannot go according to plan in the mountains. Sometimes there are things that are beyond our control. Sometimes decisions are made or change of hiking plans. We are in the mountains. Please be patient and understanding with our guides. I promise you they will be trying their best (sometimes under some hectic conditions) to make you experience the best ever.
Can I bring alcohol on the hike?
Okay so a debatable topic. But we are cool with that. Nothing better than a few beers around the fire. Just dot bring any messed-up skunk, class A, can’t-think-let-a-lone-move stuff. Walking with hangover is not cool.
Is there cell phone reception:
Yes. On 80% of the hike. It’s not the best signal but you should be able to make a call or whatsapp. But please be considerate to fellow hikers. No late night heavy breathing calls to your loved ones.
Music on the mountains?
Absolutely not!! We are here to experience the peace and quiet that the mountains so freely give. And of course there is the courtesy factor as well. The chances of everyone liking your music are pretty low. So we rather go with the ‘no music policy’ to keep the peace.