Best trekking adventures in the Drakensberg
Guest author Shannon Linn writes about her Drakensberg trekking adventure with South Africa Adventures.
South Africa is famous for many things for travelers. Some things are more famous or overstated than others because the lack of supply. Trekking in the Drakensberg is one of them.
I lived in Johannesburg for about 18 months while working in Sandton. In order to keep my sanity I was traveling almost every weekend and frequently I went trekking with South Africa Adventures. I can write about safaris, Cape Town etc but I think there’s enough online about those already so I will focus my writing about Drakensberg trekking instead.
Drakensberg is quite a mission to get to from any international airports in the world and it is not a touristy thing to do unless you know local people but this is exactly the reason why you should do it. When I travel, I go beyond my way to avoid spending too much time sitting inside a car, going to fancy restaurants or staying in expensive hotels.
Those are too superficial for me. I want to indulge myself with heavy dose of nature when I travel. Plus, to be honest South Africa is still a developing country, so the level of customer service in expensive hotels and restaurants are not yet up to international standard anyway. You might just end up paying international prices with local services and get frustrated while you are supposed to be on vacation.
But you need to sort out the logistics or find a reliable mountain guide / tour operator (I used South Africa Adventures) if you are ever fortunate enough to go trekking in the Drakensberg.
Fortunately I discovered a local mountaineering company called “South Africa Adventures” ‘and soon I was adventuring in these majestic mountains during most of my free weekends. Those moments I’ve spent sweating, puffing and swearing were probably my highlight during my 18 months of stay in this beautiful and wild country.
Not only have I made new friends in a foreign country, most importantly I have got to know about myself. When you get tired, cold and/or hungry, your true personality comes out and you cannot deny it. I also got to observe other people and their personality and discovered many human natures. I have become more and more comfortable and confident when I meet strangers because of this experience I had traveling and trekking in not only the Drakensberg but other hiking areas as well.
Which Drakensberg Trekking Adventure to choose?
In summary, if you also want to go trekking in the Drakensberg, here’s what I recommend:
- Decide how many days – you need minimum 2 days starting from Johannesburg:
– If you only have 2 days I recommend amphitheater overnight camp, if 3 days I recommend cathedral peak and/or champagne castle, if you have more days and want the full Drakensberg experience, I recommend the mini-traverse trail. If you want even more – climb Mafadi which is the highest mountain in South Africa
– pick one which is more than your current physical capacity. You will become a stronger and better person when you step out of your comfort zone. Why not? It’s safe given you have to hire professional guides anyway.
- find a reliable local operator who can organize the logistics and provide the guiding on the mountain (I used South Africa Adventures, the owners’ name is Darren MacDonald, very high quality guiding, very entertaining, very organized and reasonably priced)
- Make sure you have the right gear for the type of trekking you want to do and for the weather. (South Africa adventures would be able to help)
- If you could, do some training prior to up your hike. The fitter you are the more you will enjoy the Drakensberg. Some of the sections can get pretty challenging sometimes.
- You might cry a little, but that’s ok. You need to break down first before you can transform and transcend your current form and substance 🙂
“The Drakensberg Trekking experiences have helped me grow as a person..”
But overall, I have loved my time in South Africa. I have made some awesome new friends and seen some incredible mountain scenery. The Drakensberg trekking experiences have really helped me grow as a person and I am forever indebted to the all the guides and people that helped me to the summits and escarpment of the highest peaks in this country known as the Rainbow Nation. The unique rock formations and huge spires and towers of these special mountains are reminders of my magical trekking experiences that will stay with me forever.
Author: Shannon Linn: South Africa Adventures client