Incredible 8 day Drakensberg hiking tour that covers 4 of the best areas of the mountain
The Drakensberg mountains situated in the province of Kwa-Zulu natal is fast becoming one the most sought after hiking destinations in the world. Many hikers are looking to experience this magical mountain wonderland but are not keen on “entirely roughing it“…. We reckon there has to be a few days set aside for a little bit of the ‘old fashioned’ camping style hiking experience. The Drakensberg is stunning. And we believe spending a few nights right up in the remote part of the escarpment adds massive value to our Drakensberg hiking tour. On the other days, tents are substituted for comfortable board and lodging. And so the concept of slackpacking was invented.
An overview of the Drakensberg hiking tour
This tour is not a 100% slackpacking type hike. Although 5 of the 7 nights are in various lodges along the way, we do spend 2 nights camping deep in the Drakensberg mountains. If you are up for it, this added option just makes for a really stunning experience. And don’t worry-No heavy backpacks to carry for these 3 days. Our crew will handle all aspects of this part of the hike. All you need to do is put on foot in front of the other. As for the other days? Our guide will take you on day hikes into some of the best parts of the Northern and Central Drakensberg region. All the logistics are taken care of which includes luggage transfers from lodge to lodge while you hike.
What areas do we visit on the hiking tour?
We created this Drakensberg hiking tour to encompass some of the most scenic parts of the area. The journey will take you from the quaint town of Clarens in the North to Cathedral Peak in the South. The tour will include the following stunning hiking routes:
- 1 day Amphitheatre and Tugela Falls hike
- 1 day Gorge hike in the lower Amphitheatre region of the Royal Natal National Park.
- 1 day hike to the summit of Sterkhorn Peak in the Champagne Valley
- 3 day hike on the Bell Traverse route that includes the summit of Cathedral Peak and Organ Pipes Pass.
What is the average hiking distance per day?
We hike between 10 and 14km on average per day.
What are the hiking conditions like?
The terrain is usually on single track type paths. On some of the sections there may be a few rocky parts to negotiate. And of course, there is the altitude to take into consideration. The highest point we will reach is 3,100m on day 5. This will most likely be the most challenging part of the hiking tour. The last 200m to the summit of Cathedral peak on Day 4 involves some steep and exposed sections. We will set up safety ropes and harness’s as an extra precaution. If you are scared of heights, maybe best to wait for us on the ridge below. There are also a few ‘uneasy’ sections on the Bell Traverse.
If you have a good level of hiking fitness are up for a challenge then this tour is for you. The great thing about the trip, is that we have included 3 days in the remote part of the mountains. This means you will have to be prepared for 2 nights of sleeping in tents. This also means hikers will need proper clothing to survive for those days. The other 5 days involve day hikes with overnight accommodation in 3 star mountain lodges.
Where do we stay on the non camping days?
Day 1: Millpond Guest House in Clarens
Day 2: Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge
Day 3: Tendele chalets in the Royal Natal National Park
Day 4: Monks Cowl Golf Club
Day 7: Amphitheatre Lodge
The best time to go?
Hiking in the Drakensberg can be done throughout the year. Although you would need to be aware of the seasons and choose your preferable conditions.
Winter season is from April to the end of August. This means freezing temperatures at night, usually dry and windy conditions in the day. The Drakensberg is also very brown as rain usually falls in the summer months. Snow is possible.
Summer season is from September to April. We usually experience warm to hot temperatures in the day but cool by night. This is the rainfall season. So expect to get caught in thunderstorm. The advantage is that the Drakensberg is super green and stunningly beautiful during this time.
We will hikers up in Johannesburg at 9am. We then take the 4 hour drive through to the town of Clarens. Upon arrival, we can check in to the Millpond Guest House and freshen up. Spend the afternoon enjoying this quaint town. We will take you into town for dinner at one of the quaint restaurants at about 6pm. (Dinner for own account)
We wake up at 6am. Breakfast is served from 7-8am. We aim to leave by 8:15am. Today we take a really scenic drive through the Golden Gate National park towards the Amphitheatre part of the Drakensberg. The drive to the start of the hike take about 2 hours.
We should arrive at the Sentinel Carpark, the start of the hike by about 10:30am. We then start the hike to the top of the Amphitheatre, where the second highest waterfall in the world crashes down 1000m into the valley below. This hike is spectacular in terms of scenery. The hiking distance is about 10km in total taking up to 7 hours to complete. We will return by about 5pm an overnight in the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge, situated 8km from the base of the mountain. Dinner in the lodge for (own account).
Wake up at 6am. Breakfast from 7-8am. We aim to leave by 8:15am. We then take the 2-hour drive through to the Royal Natal National Park, situated at the base of the Amphitheatre. We should arrive by about 10am. The hike today is known as the Tugela Gorge hike. A 15km hike in total taking about 7 hours to complete. We will have a picnic lunch in the gorge. The views are spectacular as you peer up at the top of the Amphitheatre to where we were hiking the day before. We should be back by about 5pm. We then book into the Tendele Chalets situated at the end of hike with some incredible views of the mountain. Dinner will be a traditional South African BBQ which is included in the price.
Wake up at 6am. Breakfast from 7-8am. we aim to leave by 8:15am. We then take the 1.5-hour drive through to the Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg. We should arrive 10am. The hike today covers about 14km and takes about 7 hours to complete. We hike to summit of Sterkhorn, situated below the looming mountain of Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak.
We should be back down by about 5pm. Our accommodation is at the Monks Cowl Golf resort situated 15 minutes from the end of the hike. Dinner on own account
Wake up at 5am. Ready to leave by 5:30am. We take the 1-hour drive through to the Cathedral Peak reserve. Upon arrival, we have breakfast before starting the hike at 8:30am. Today we will be hiking 10km. We will overnight in tents in the mountains. All the tents, backpacks, sleeping bags and camping equipment will be provided. *there are no showers, toilets in the mountains.
Wake up at 6am. Have breakfast and start hiking by 8am. Today we will summit Cathedral Peak which is about a 3-hour hike from the campsite. The summit has some incredible panoramic views of the Northern and Central Drakensberg. We then take the 14km hike through the Bell Traverse to the Lesotho escarpment and through to our camp at the top of Organ Pipes Pass. We will overnight here. Altitude is 3100m.
Wake up at 6am, have breakfast and start the hike by 7:30am. We will descend from the escarpment via Organ Pipes Pass and make our way back to the Cathedral Peak reserve where we started 2 days before. The hiking distance is 15km and we should take 6 hours to complete. Once down, we will take the 1.5 hour drive through to the Amphitheatre Mountain Lodge where we will overnight.
Wake up at 7am. Have breakfast and be ready to drive back to Johannesburg by 10am. The drive back to JHB takes about 5 hours. We will drop your guests off in JHB by 3pm.
- 5 nights’ accommodation sharing at various lodges/guesthouses (breakfast included).
- 2 Nights tented accommodation in the mountains
- Guides for the duration of the tour
- All hiking permits for the various routes
- Return transfers from Johannesburg
- All transfers between the routes
- Dinner on Day 3 at Tendele Lodge
- Dinner on 5 and 6 in the mountains
- Breakfast on Day 2,3,4,5,6,7
- All camping equipment (tents, backpacks, cooking and eating utensils, sleeping bags)
- Porters in the mountains.
- Lunches/snacks on the hiking trails. We can stop along the way for you to purchase.
- Dinners on Day 1,2,4 and 6