Thursday, January 20, 2005

Drakensberg is the training ground for the first black person to summit Mount Everest

Xinhua - English: "Sibusiso Vilane the first black person to summit Mount Everest two years ago said he conducted the majority of histraining in South Africa's Drakensberg area, where Southern Africa's highest mountain, Thabana-Ntlenyana, stands as high as 3,482 meters." He intends to return to the Himalayas and climb the world highest mountain via a more difficult route

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bergfree Guided Adventures

Bergfree Guided Adventures: "Bergfree Guided Adventures offers you the unique opportunity to primarily get away from the hustle and bustle of every day living. Leave your cell phone and all other pressures at home and rejuvenate your body and soul in a unique area of the world.

We do not aim for the 'Mountaineer', but for those who want to explore the mountain from the relative ease and safety of a good footpath. This does not mean that you cannot go to 'The Top', however there are just as many pleasures to enjoy in the lower part of the berg.

You will experience some fairly strenuous exercise to get the blood going as you enter the berg, and then you can experience solitude, with no one else in sight or sound of you with fantastic views of open spaces. There will be a unique quietness and you can swim in the clear cold mountain streams before sleeping in open caves, tents or mountain huts.

You can visit the famous ancient 'Rock Art' sites, and drink the cold sparkling water straight from the mountain streams. For those who plan it right and have the good fortune to have the weather on your side, you could have a never to be forgotten experience of a moonlight walk in the mountains, which will brings all your senses to the fore with this unforgettable time of just you and the moon and the perfect peace of these unique surroundings"

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Six stranded on Drakensberg

Six stranded on Drakensberg: "Six stranded on Drakensberg
09/01/2005 17:07 - (SA)
Click here

Johannesburg - KwaZulu-Natal agriculture MEC Gabriel Ndabandana and five others are stranded on the Drakensberg after bad weather forced their helicopter to make an emergency landing, SABC news reported on Sunday."

BERGFREE ADVENTURES - Daves Drakensberg newsletters

BERGFREE ADVENTURES Dave has a passion for the Drakensberg and its little wonder that he is the most recognised guide in the Berg. Well he has put together a website with some of his drakensberg stories.

A Backpacker's Guide to the Natal Drakensberg

A Backpacker's Guide to the Natal Drakensberg: "" Really usefull information for backpacking in the Drakensberg

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa

Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa: "This will be the world's fastest webpage: some photos of the Drakensberg
Mountains in eastern South Africa.
No captions -- until I get some time to revise this, at least.
These are beautiful mountains, filled with rock art sites from the ancient
San people."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Vergezient Mountain Retreat - Accommodation in the Northern Drakensberg

Vergezient Mountain Retreat
Northern Drakensberg accommodation overlooking Royal Natal National Park and the Amphitheatre
: "Vergezient Mountain Retreat
Northern Drakensberg accommodation overlooking Royal Natal National Park and the Amphitheatre

Vergezient Mountain Retreat is situated in the Northern Drakensberg. The view over the Royal Natal National Park and the Amphtheatre is unsurpassed and with such good value for money there is little reason to stay anywhere else in the Northern Drakensberg. Vergezient Mountain Retreat offers generous farm house style accommodation with excellent food. You will want to return more than once to experience the freedom and beauty of Vergezient Mountain Retreat.

This farm house has five tastefully decorated en-suite bedrooms each with its own lounge and fireplace. Each room is different and they all have lovely views of the Northern Drakensberg Mountains. The accommodation is elegant while maintaining that rustic farm house charm.

The lounge, dining room and enclosed veranda offer generous and comfortable spaces with stunning views of the Amphitheatre and Royal Natal National Park.

At Vergezient Mountain Retreat supper, breakfast and lunch are included in the price as well as mid morning and afternoon tea. And for those of you on day trips we make a lovely packed lunch

And there is plenty to do. There are beautiful walks and hiking trails which are well set our ranging in difficulty and length through forested gullies, open spaces, along streams, passed a waterfall and even to a cave with Bushman paintings. But what really stands out are the magnificent views of the whole Northern Drakensberg.

Many interesting day trips can easily be made from Vergezient Mountain Resort but with walks, the well set out trails, horse rides, farm animals and beautiful views you will most likely want to spend your time here. Horse trails, golfing, walks in the Royal Natal National Park, historic voortreker and battlefield sights, fishing, sailing on Sterkfontein dam, game viewing at Spioenkop National Park and mountain bike trails are but a few of the opportunities for day trips"

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Formum for the Drakensberg Region

Forum for the Drakensberg

Here is a place to post your drakensberg questions for open discussion

Formum for the Drakensberg Region

Forum for the Drakensberg

Here is a place to post your drakensberg questions for open discussion

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Mercury - New Drakensberg resort rises from the ashes

Mercury - New Drakensberg resort rises from the ashes: "New Drakensberg resort rises from the ashes
October 26, 2004

By Latoya Newman

The official opening of the new main building at the Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Leisure Resort at the weekend was 'reminiscent of the rise of the legendary Phoenix'.

Drakensberg Tourists Need Protection

Drakensberg Tourists Need Protection

It has been most disconcerting to read about the unfortunate incidents in the Drakensberg over the past months.

First, a group of schoolgirls and their teachers were attacked and assaulted and, secondly, a group of campers had their campsite ransacked by criminals.

The Drakensberg area is a popular holiday destination for local and international tourists and is also a valuable world heritage site.

It is therefore imperative that visitors to the area feel safe and secure when visiting. Unless something is done to round up the criminal element in the area, then the site runs the risk of being avoided by tourists. One suggestion would be for the conservation services to enlist the help of the SANDF and to conduct operations in the area with a view to apprehending the thugs. At the same time it would also provide valuable training for our soldiers.

As a province that relies heavily on tourism, KwaZulu-Natal cannot afford to lose a single tourist, local or international, because of criminal behaviour."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Welcome to South Africa

From time to time, and for a variety of reasons, foot paths may be closed to the public. Your co-operation in only using the walks which are available would be appreciated."

Main Caves and Col. Durnford's Camp
Follow the signposted path to the Main Caves Forest and Giants Hut.
Approximately 2,5 km from the hutted camp the path enters a beautiful forest below the cave sandstone overhangs, which shelter the new Bushman museum.
Several deep clear pools are to be found in Two Dassle Stream which runs througt the forest along this route and swimming is a pleasant activity on a hot day.

Continue on up the boardwalk into the Main Caves Bushman Museum.
The Field Ranger on duty opens the entrance gate on the hour every hour from 09:00- 15:00. The entry fee is R15 per adult and R5 per child under the age of 12.

Leaving the museum follow the concrete path down to Two Dassie Stream and about 100 meters on the other side of the stream the path approaches a group of large boulders.

At this point a sign reading "Rock 75" indicates the site of Col. Durnford's camp. It was here that members of the 75th Regiment camped in 1874 during the Langalibalele rebellion, the troopers here were under the command of Col. Durford R.E.
It is believed that during their stay (June-September 1874) the regimental cook carved into this rock the figures "75" indicating that the 75th had occupied the spot. Continue along the main path back to the camp.

Main Caves Forest
Follow the signposted path to the Main Caves Forest and Giants Hut.
Approximately 2,5 km from the hutted camp the path enters a beautiful forest below the cave sandstone overhangs, which shelter the new Bushman Museum.
Several deep clear pools are to be found in Two Dassle Stream along this route and swimming is possible in these pools.
Retrace the path back to the hutted camp (Approximately 5 km, 2 hours)

Grysbuck Bush
Follow the signposted path past the Main Caves museum exit above the Bushman's River.
After the caves, the path forks. One sign reads Giants Ridge and the other reads "Grysbuck Bush" and "Langalibalele Pass".Follow the latter and approximately 1 km further on the path forks again. Do not cross the rustic bridge ahead of you (Langalibalele Pass) but continue along the path signposted "Grysbuck Bush".From here on you enter a fairly swampy grassland (during summer months), however the path is cemented to cope with the wet patches.On entering the woody area you will come to a rustic bridge. Cross this bridge and continue for another 20 minutes, The path now brings you to a series of beautiful pools.Swimming is possible but be careful of whirlpools after heavy rains.Retrace the same route back to the hutted camp (8 km, 3 1/2 hours)

River Walk (1 )
Follow the signposted path past "Rock 75" (Walk No 1 ). The river walk is signposted just before the rustic bridge.The path follows the east bank of the Bushman's River, through low-Iying grassveld and later on through light bush.Shortly after entering the bush the path forks. Take the path that reads "Hutted Camp". The path now crosses the wall of a small dam and then ascends to a gate. Go through the gate (please close after entering) and now climb up a steep paved path to the hutted camp. (Round trip 3 km, 1 hour).

River Walk (2)
Follow the directions for Walk No 4 as far as the signpost that reads "Hutted Camp" -"Bannerman's Bridge" -"Picnic Site".Now take the left arm "Bannerman's Bridge" -"Picnic Site". The path continues through thick bush (Eland are often encountered here during winter months).
On reaching "Bannerman's Bridge" rest for a while next to the magnificent pool.When you have rested and are ready to carry on, take the path that reads "Picnic Site" (a fairly steep climb) and on reaching the picnic site join the main road to the hutted camp. (Round trip 4 1/2 km, 2 hours).

Bergview Walk
Take the main road out of the hutted camp as far as the Conservator's house.
On the opposite side of the road you will see a sign reading "Bergview Walk" -"Meander Hut". At this sign turn right and proceed towards a large corrugated iron shed.Just before the shed a foot path swings off to the right, take this path which is clearly defined, and continue up a steep slope.
On completing the steep climb a sign reading "Bergview Walk" -"Meander Hut" - "Giant's Hut" clearly indicates the route you must follow.Swing left at this point (Bergview Walk) and continue for a while until reaching a stream.Now cross the stream and continue for a few metres where yet another sign reading "Bergview Walk" -"Meander Hut" is to be found.A left-hand turn brings you onto the "Bergview Walk". From now on this section of the walk affords one the most magnificent views of the Drakensberg to be found in Giant's Castle Game Reserve.
Continue along this route until reaching a jeep track.At this point turn left and continue down the track until reaching the main road. From here on a left turn along the road brings you back to the hutted camp. (Round trip 5 km, 2 hours).

No.7 Giant's Hut via Giant's Ridge and down Two Dassie Stream.
Take the signposted path to the Giant's Ridge path past the Main Caves Bushman Museum.
On reaching the "Giant's Ridge" sign turn left, a steep climb takes you past low sandstone cliffs.
The path climbs up the side of the ridge overlooking the streams and forested valley below.
The second and third rises are short but steep, while the intervening areas rise gently.
The path now follows the spine of the ridge. At a rocky outcrop across the path it veers left, across a stream and bog, onto another part of the ridge.The next steep rise is marked by a cairn, after which the path peters out. Further on a large cairn marks the contour path.
At this point turn left and proceed along the contour path to Giant's Hut, situated above a small pan.It is advisable to rest for a while at the hut. When you are ready to continue, proceed along the old jeep track, cross the stream and climb up a short distance until reaching the site of the old hut (a concrete slab).At this point a path strikes off to the left across the ridge. From here on a very steep descent brings you to Two Dassie Stream. The path then follows the west bank of the stream after crossing some boggy areas.In its lower reaches, the path crosses the stream several times. There are numerous delightful swimming pools in Two Dassie Stream. (Round trip 19 km, 7 1/2 hours).

Giant's Hut via Two Dassie Stream
Follow the signposted path out of the hutted camp to the Main Caves Forest on the path along the left bank of Two Dassie Stream.The path passes through the forest then crosses a rustic bridge.
From here on the stream is crossed several times until, after passing through a boggy area, the stream splits.Now proceed straight up the very steep ridge ahead of you until the ground levels out, bringing you to the contour path.Turn right along the path until reaching Giant's Hut. After resting at the hut retrace the same path back to the hutted camp. (15 km, 6 hours).

Giant's Pass and Giant's Castle
(i) From the cairn on the contour path at the top of Giant's Ridge, walk along the contour path to the north, crossing four streams.Make a long track up the side of the hill for the break in the cliffs which marks the bottom of the pass.This route is made difficult because of the steepness and presence of landslides.After crossing some of the boulder scree there is a path to the right which leads to the summit marked by a small cairn (6,7 km, 4 hours).
Avoid any gullies branching off to the left, which are impassable.
(ii) Climb straight up one of the ridges to a level immediately below the cliffs then walk along to the pass.This is a long steep climb but easier than (i) in the long run.
Proceed on up to the beacon at the top of Giant's Castle.
Make a considerable detour around two ridges before reaching the escarpment edge. An easy climb of about 215 m from the pass brings one to the beacon.
The land slopes back from the escarment steeply into Lesotho. (2,8 km from the pass to the Giant's Castle beacon. Now descend the pass by route (i). (Round trip back to Giant's Hut 19 km, 8 hours).

Bannerman's Hut and Bannerman's Pass
From the hutted camp follow the main road to the picnic site. Take the path down to Bannerman's Bridge and cross the river.Follow the path marked by a sign reading Bannerman's Hut.
The path climbs steeply at first through the cave sandstone but once clearing the sandstone ridge it more or less levels out until you reach the contour path.
Follow the contour path to the right passing a small pan after about 5 minutes. From here on the path crosses numerous small streams and traverses beneath The Thumb and Bannerman's Face.
Bannerman's Hut is situated at the foot of the pass. (10 km, 4 hours).
To ascend the Bannerman's Pass take the path that starts off directly behind the hut.
It begins up the south side of the stream but briefly crosses to the north side before the gulley begins to narrow.Pass a huge rock in the narrower gulley. The path is usually well defined, but wherever difficulty may be experienced a small pile of stones has been built.
In the pass the ascent is difficult because of boulder scree in the steepest sections. Near the top, the ascent is much easier. (3,6 km, 2 hours, 20 minutes for the ascent of the pass).
The summit of the pass is marked by a stone cairn. Return by the same route but beware, it is very steep in places.From Bannerman's Hut return by the same route to the hutted camp. (Round trip from hutted camp to Bannerman.s Hut and back 17 km, 71/2 hours).

The Injisuthi Valley from Bannerman's Hut
From Bannerman's Hut follow the contour path north to the Injisuthi River.
A section of the path, for four ridges east of the Judge Pass, has not been cut, but a rough track joins the two sections of contour path.Over this short section the going is tough. Immediately after crossing a wide boulder-strewn stream bed there is an indistinct path up the pass. (Judge pass, it is seldom used).Continue along the contour path to the foot of Corner Pass. (Also seldom used.) From here continue on the contour path, crossing a stream on a tributary of the Umtshazana River, with a waterfall.A short distance further on, after having made a wide arc, one gets one's first view of Scaly Peak and The Lion.Continue on an arc towards the escarpment to a point just before the end of the path. From this point the whole Injisuthi valley can be viewed.
In the distance are The Triplets, beyond which are The Lion, Scaly Peak and the Injisuthi buttress, the Ape, The Old Woman Grinding Corn, with Cathkin Peak in the far distance.
Down in the valley the beautiful wooded slopes of the Injisuthi River valley are to be seen. Now return by the same route to Bannerman's Hut. (Round trip 23,2 km, 10 hours).

Giant's Hut to Bannerman's Hut via the Contour Path
When leaving Giant's Hut the contour path traverses the reserve at an altitude of about 2 260 m.
It is a fairly easy walk along a wide path which only becomes a little rough when crossing the mountain streams.Above, towards the Drakensberg escarpment, are the following prominent peaks as they occur in order: Gable, South Ridge, with its two holes when seen from Giant's Hut, Eastern Gulley, Giant's Castle, Giant's Castle Pass, Long Wall, Katana, Kambula, Mount Durnford, Potterill, Bond, Erskine, Langalibalele Pass, The Thumb, Bannerman's Face, Bannerman's Pass, and Gypatus Point.Below stretch the foothills with prominent features like Oribi Ridge, World's View and the Chimney Pot. The total distance between the two huts is 18 km taking 6 hours.

Langalibalele Pass
Take the signposted path past the Main Caves to Langalibalele Pass.
The path follows the left bank of the Bushman's River after passing the Main Caves. Continue along this route until reaching and crossing a rustic bridge.The path now crosses two streams and then ascends a steep ridge travelling along the spine to the contour path.Continue up from the contour path negotiating the steep incline to a stone cairn. Thereafter there are another three inclines which are short but steep.The path then continues up the ridge to the final stone cairn, then veers slightly to the left along level ground and gradually descends to the river crossing.
You are now at the base of the actual Langalibalele Pass. Rest for a while and when ready cross the river and proceed up the left-hand bank.The path is clearly defined right up to the summit, however this last section to the summit is very steep in places and regular short breaks should be taken.When reaching the top of the pass look up to your left where the Carbineers grave is situated.To reach the grave (marked by a large stone cairn and an aluminium cross) veer to your left and continue up the rocky ridge, a further 3/4 of an hour walking.Return to the camp via the same route. (Round trip 26,8 km, 8 hours).N.B. The common grave contains the remains of troopers Erskine, Bond and Potterill together with two local Africans, Kambula and Katana. These five men fell during the engagement at the top of the pass during the Langalibalele Rebellion of 1873 -1874.

World's View
From the hutted camp follow the road to the picnic site. Take the path down to Bannerman's Bridge.After crossing the bridge take the path to the right at the sign reading "World's View". Climb a short hill and cross a small stream, from here on the footpath follows a long plateau, crossing another stream, very close to a large boulder on your right and a landslide on your left.
The path splits at yet another huge rock where you take the lower path which leads to World's View.Ahead can be seen Sugar Loaf Hill. To the west, the main Drakensberg escarpment with The Thumb projecting above it, to the south is Langalibalele Pass and to the north of that Bannerman's Pass.Follow the path along the base of Sugar Loaf Hill and shortly after this the path peters out. From here walk straight ahead to the top of World's View, the view from the top is really worthwhile.The view of the whole escarpment from Giant's Castle to Champagne Castle is uninterrupted. Below you are the Umtshezana and Bushman's rivers. The Chimney Pot, very aptly named, is directly ahead. Follow the same route back to the hutted camp. (14 km, 4 1/2 hours).

Meander Hut via Beacon Ridge
Follow the same route as for "Bergview Walk" (No.6). After crossing the stream carry on up the path marked by a sign reading "Meander Hut" do not turn left at the Bergview sign.
This track follows along the spine of two ridges which are fairly steep ascents.At the top of the second is a trig. beacon marking the altitude at 2 020 metres. The track descends to Meander Hut which is beautifully situated above the cliffs overlooking Meander Stream.On leaving the hut, climb the steep short hill behind the hut and on reaching the top follow the footpath below the beacon (do not climb the steep track back to the beacon) but continue along the path until it links up with a jeep track.Follow the jeep track until it reaches the main road, Turn left along the main road and return to the rest camp. (Round trip 14 km, 5 hours).

Meander Hut via Jeep Track
Follow the road out of the hutted camp past the Conservator's house until reaching a jeep track leading off to the right.Go past the staff quarters on your right and proceed along the jeep track climbing steeply through the sandstone cliffs, (concrete strips).
Now follow along the jeep track ignoring a track leading off to the left, The route is clearly marked with signs reading "Meander Hut".The hut is beautifully situated above the cliffs overlooking Meander Valley. Return via the same route. (12 km, 4 1/2 hours).

Meander Hut to Skopongo Ridge (Airstrip)
A pleasant short walk from Meander Hut in an easterly direction along the jeep track ends on the airstrip.A walk to the end gives a beautiful view of the Ncibidwane River, Meander Stream, and Giant's Castle towering above the Drakensberg stretching away to the south-west. (Round trip back to Meander Hut 2,5 km, 1 hour).

No.18 The Lakes
Follow the same route as "Meander Hut via Jeep Track" (No.16). After climbing up the steep slope leading through the sandstone continue along the jeep track until the track forks.
The left-hand arm reads "The Lakes". Proceed along this track which again climbs very steeply with concrete strips in places.After a while an old disused quarry is reached, continue along the old jeep track until a huge basalt shelf is reached with a series of large water-filled pot- holes.
Now walk to the edge from where a magnificent view of the Drakensberg range unfolds before you. Continue along the track which forms a wide circle.
Completing the circle brings you back onto the original jeep track. Return home by the same route, via the old quarry and back down the jeep track to the hutted camp. (Round trip 14 km, 5 hours).

Meander Hut to Giant's Hut via Lotheni Jeep Track
An old jeep track leaves Meander Hut and travels west to meet the Loteni jeep track.
A very steep climb brings one to the trig. beacon on the spine of the ridge (2 020 m). The track then descends to the Lotheni jeep track.On reaching the Lotheni jeep track turn left and continue up a series of steep inclines until reaching the old Lammergeyer Hide donated by the Wildlife Society.A level path continues on to Giant's Hut (11,4 km, 4 hours). This route in reverse takes 3 1/2 hours.Giant's Hut to the hutted camp via the Lotheni jeep track is a distance of 11 km, 4 hours. Please note that the track is very often rough and stoney.

Bannerman's Path -Contour Path -Langalibalele Path
Take the route to Bannerman's Hut. (No.10). On reaching the contour path turn left and continue crossing several streams.To your left and towering above you is The Thumb and Langalibalele path (Marked by two stone cairns) turn left and proceed down the spine until eventually entering the Bushmans valley below.After crossing two streams (and a rustic bridge) the path continues back to the hutted camp below the main caves. (Round trip 15,6 km, 5 1/2 hours).

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Travel Blog by drakensberg

Travel Blog by drakensberg

A wonderfull trip of gourmet relaxation through some of the best the Drakensberg has to offer.