5 reasons to go on a guided Drakensberg hike
Guided Drakensberg Hike Champagne Castle_7 South Africa Adventures Guided Tours

5  reasons to book a guided Drakensberg hike with Us! 

Indulge your senses and challenge your mental and physical ability in South Africa’s number one hiking destination – book a guided Drakensberg hike! The Dragon Mountains have a special kind of magical allure that will captivate your soul and leave you with an unquenchable and tantalizing desire to come back again and again. You will be immersed in some of the most scenic and remote mountain scenery. It is no wonder the Drakensberg has gained World Heritage Site status.

So what makes hiking in the Drakensberg so special you may be wondering?

Well don’t wonder too much as you may stray. And straying on a Drakensberg hike if you do not know the mountains is probably not the best thing to do. Well there are exceptions of course. Stray dogs seem to wonder about what makes a guided Drakensberg hike so special. But enough of the intelligent play on words for now. We were just trying to use up some of your valuable time to try and get you to stay on the page for longer.

Okay so let me start off again by telling you how passionate we are about these truly incredible mountains. I have been hiking in the Drakensberg from the ripe old age of 10. I can clearly remember my  first time in the Barrier of Spears. My dad had brought myself and my brother down for a few days’ vacation. We were staying in the Northern Drakensberg in the Royal Natal National Park.

The chalets we were staying in are situated on a small ridge with an entire view of the Amphitheatre. Now I don’t know if it was my dormant mountaineering seed waiting to blossom or if it was just the sense of mystery humans have for the unknown. But when I took that first upward glance over 1000m to the escarpment of the Amphitheatre I just knew I had to go and see for myself what was up there. And not much has changed. As a boy of 10 I was imagining dragons and dwarfs and mystical creatures. 30 years later and the Drakensberg still ignite that childlike imagination.

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Interesting Drakensberg Fact

We all know the Lord of the Rings trilogy right? If you don’t you need to go get help. Well not many people know this- the Drakensberg Mountains was what inspired Tolkien to create the Misty Mountains in his book. And having read the book, I cannot describe the beauty of these mountains any better than the way he does.

So what are the reasons for dusting off your old hiking boots, getting your backpack from your mate who borrowed it for a six pack 10 years ago and embark on a guided Drakensberg Hike?

Reason 1:“Hiking is the best “anti-stress, anti-heart attack, anti-everything activity”

I mean let’s face it. The mountains are going to raise a pulse or two. No matter how fit you are or what route you decide to hike, you are definitely going to be exerting yourself. And what better place to do it in? – Incredible scenery-Fresh Air-Waterfalls-Pristine streams. If that doesn’t lower your blood pressure then maybe a vacation on Mars is in order. The ancient soul of these incredible mountains will draw you in and leave you with an unexplainable sense of peace.

Reason 2:“There is a diverse choice of routes in the Drakensberg to suite all levels of fitness and experience”

The ancient escarpment of basalt towers and spires stretch for over 230km. The main areas are divided in the Northern, Central and Southern Drakensberg. Here are a few of the routes, brief description and their grading to help you better understand what would be the best guided Drakensberg hike to join

Northern Drakensberg:

  1. The Amphitheatre Hike via the Sentinel-this is probably the easiest hike to do. And the quickest way to reach the escarpment of Lesotho. The hike can be done as a day trip but is also pretty cool to camp on the top for a night.
  2. Slackpacking in the Tugela Gorge area of the Royal Natal National Park- A perfect getaway hike for those of you who are not up for carrying heavy backpacks and slogging your way up a mountain for 8 hours a day. The Northern Drakensberg showcases not only some incredible day hikes but have an array of alternative adventure activities to add to the tour. Our 3 day ‘slackpacking’ tour is just that. We have included a guided hike into the Gorge leading up to the base of the Tugela Falls. We have also included some incredible and fun activities like canopy tours over the forest, abseiling and zip lining. And in true slackpacking tradition, you will not be squished into a tent to sleep. We make use of a ‘base’ that includes…tada……a bed and shower. And of course the evenings are concluded with a scrumptious meal around a roaring fire with a beer or 10. Maybe a whiskey for medicinal purposes as well. And guess what? You do not have to be super fit for this activity.
  3. Mnweni Circuit Hike– Now this is definitely a guided Drakensberg hike that has to be on your bucket list. The hike starts at the Cultural Centre about 30 minutes’ drive from Bergville. The hike covers about 45km over 3 days. There are various options in terms of reaching the summit. Our preferred route is up Mnweni Pass with an overnight in Ledgers Cave. (In our opinion, one the best caves in the Drakensberg by far!!). The descent is via Rockeries Pass. The hike can be quite challenging at times especially with a backpack and should only be attempted by hikers who have a moderate fitness level.

Central Drakensberg

  1. Cathedral Peak Hike– An incredible hike that includes a summit of one of the Drakensberg’s few ‘free standing’ peaks. Most of the ‘summits’ on a hike in these mountains is basically reaching the escarpment of Lesotho. So although you are ascending over 1000m, once you reach the top it is flat. In fact, the Drakensberg could be the highest mountains in the world without another side. Cathedral Peak is what it describes. A peak. A tad different to the other routes. The hike can be done in one day. The round trip distance covers about 25km with an altitude gain of over 2000m. So a day hike is only recommended if you are pretty fit. Other alternatives include an overnight in Sherman’s cave and taking 2 days to summit.
  2. Champagne Castle Hike– A challenging 3 day hike to the summit of the second highest mountain in South Africa. The hike covers about 45km and reaches an altitude of 3300m. The first day of this guided hike covers 14km into Keith’s Bush Camp. It usually takes about 6 hours to get there. The best option is then to set up a base camp and go and up down Grays Pass. A grueling day to say the least. On your feet for about 7 hours and ascending over 1100m. And what goes up must come down. So let’s do the math’s….ummm…1100m descent on the same day. Your poor knees. But don’t worry. We have bags of sympathy we carry with on the guided hikes.
  3. Highest mountain in South Africa-Mafadi. A challenging 4 day hike that reaches 3,451m. This hike should only be attempted by hikers who are fit. The distance covered is nearly 65km depending on what Pass you decide to ascend and descend. Depending on the dynamics of the group we usually make our way up Corner Pass with and overnight in Injasuthi Cave. The hike down is via Leslies Pass.

Reason 3:– A portal into perspective

They say a human is like an elastic band. We are only effective once stretched. A guided Drakensberg hike will definitely stretch you. The mental challenge of hiking these ancient mountains might only be appreciated in hindsight. But that is what mountains are all about. Testing the human spirit and leaving you with an overwhelming feeling of perspective. A perspective that only the mountains can ignite. Edmund Hillary had a saying-It’s not the mountain you conquer but yourself. So bid the smog and traffic infested city a fond farewell and go hiking.

Reason 4:– Family bonding time

The freedom of the mountains is a perfect platform for bonding time with friends, family and loved ones. No TV, no artificial distractions and no frustrations. The Drakensberg allows people the space to just be in the moment. Now add an element of adventure to that equation and you have a situation that allows for people to shed their ‘false’ selves and connect with others on a human level.  Some of the best bonds and sense of comradeship are not formed in the corporate boardroom but in the mountains.

Reason 5:– No need to organize the hike yourself

Going on a guided hike in the Drakensberg with a trekking company is the best option. Not only do they organize all the logistics from transport, food and equipment but they have an intimate knowledge of the mountains. How cool is that? No stress of getting lost. No stress about getting tents and equipment.

South Africa Adventures even arranges transport so no stress of driving. They can also advise you on the best route options depending on your fitness levels, requirements and group dynamics. And of course you have access to the team of experts before the tour that can advise you on every aspect of your pre hike preparation.

So there we have it. Our 5 top reasons to go on a guided Drakensberg hike! There are probably another 100 reasons but the cramp in my finger from all the typing is starting to get worse.

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About Author

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Darren
Adventure enthusiast, Safari expert & overall a happy guy. I love Trekking and Hiking , especially summiting Kilimanjaro. I have a passion for people, animals and the beauty of nature

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