A three-day slack packing trail from the Northern Drakensberg to the top of the Drakensberg escarpment and Tugela Falls.
Hike Day 1: Cavern Berg Hotel to Witsies Lodge 11km / 5.5 – 6.5 hrs/ 689m Ascent. Today’s hike commences with a fairly stiff climb via Sugar Loaf Gap, to get above the Sandstone Cliffs. Continuing along a mountain ridge, bypassing Broome Hill and on to Basotho Gate you can enjoy wonderful views in all directions. Witsieshoek, your overnight stop, straddles the divide between KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. Overnight: Witsies Mountain Lodge
Hike Day 2: Sentinel car park – up the chain ladders to Tugela Falls – return 13-14 km / 6-7hrs/ 472m Ascent.Starting from the Sentinel car park, you’ll hike along a well maintained path, which ascends gradually towards the Witches and the Zig-Zags, taking you to the base of the Sentinel massif. From here, you contour below the Western buttresses with the land sloping steeply to the north and east giving you wonderful views of the Malutis and the Witsieshoek plateaux. For those with a height aversion, there is the option of hiking up the gully, which will take you to the top of Beacon Buttress (3121m). The famous chain ladders (the more popular choice) are a kilometre on from the gully. The chain ladders consist of two sections (40 and 20 metres respectively) and are firmly bolted onto the rock. After surmounting the ladders it is an easy level walk to the source of the Tugela Falls. It usually takes about two-and-a-half to three hours to reach the top, which allows enough time ‘on top’ to explore and really savour the magnificent views as you picnic atop the Sentinel massif. Overnight: Witsies Mountain Lodge.
Hike Day 3: Hike from Witsies – to Royal Natal 8km/ 3-4hrs/757m Descent. Today is a relatively easy day as you descend back down to Royal Natal National Park, with several route variations taking you back along the Mahai River valley. Along the way you will criss-cross the river several times, passing small waterfalls and pools giving you a chance to go for a dip or to picnic, as you should have plenty of time on hand. The vegetation and topography changes dramatically as you descend and you will pass through patches of cool mist-belt forest on the southern facing slopes.
Total Hike Distance / Ascent: Approx 33km and 1200m ascent.