This three-day Southern Drakensberg ‘slackpacking’ experience follows the clearly designated Giants Cup hiking trail, overnight stays in comfortable lodges. With no major ascents, it is well suited to groups of friends or families that are too daunted by the daily ascents of an average berg hike. It includes all transfers and catering.
Arrival Day: Self-drive to the Southern Drakensberg (approximately 1.5 hours’ drive from Pietermaritzburg). You will overnight either in the quaint village of Himeville or along the Sani Pass road.
Overnight: Guest/ Farmhouse accommodation (Dinner provided)
Hike Day 1: Sani Pass – Cobham Nature Reserve (approximately 13km/ four to five hours):
After breakfast, you will be collected and transferred to the start of the trail at the bottom of Sani Pass. You will then make your way across the ridge between the Mkomazana and Gxalingwa Valleys. On a sunny day, Ngwenwa Pools makes an ideal stop for lunch. From here, the trail gradually ascends through appealing countryside into the Pholela Valley, crossing a suspension bridge over the river to the Cobham Reserve. You will be collected from here and transferred back to the Cobham Valley to overnight.
Overnight: Guest Farm accommodation – Cobham Valley (Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner provided)
Hike Day 2: Cobham – Drakensberg Gardens (17.5 km/ seven to eight hours):
Today’s hike essentially entails a day and a half of the usual Giants Cup Trail. After being transported back to Cobham Nature Reserve, you will pick up the trail again. This ascends the Sipongweni Ridge past Tortoise Rocks before traversing its southern flank and dropping down into the Mzimkulwana Valley. A good swimming spot along the way is ‘bathplug cave’, named after a hole in the cave floor through which it disappears. Also look out for the interesting San Rock art.
After a lunch break at Mzimkulwana Hut, you will climb out of the valley towards Little Bamboo Mountain. On the ridge top you will find several small ‘vleis’ (tarns), where blue cranes gather and the remains of petrified forests can still be found. The trail then continues down, following a pleasant stream valley with tempting swimming pools. It finally reaches the tar road of the Drakensberg Gardens Valley, where you will be collected and taken back to your accommodation along the Drakensberg Gardens Road for your third and final night.
Overnight: Guest House accommodation (Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner provided).
Hike Day 3: Castleburn – Drakensberg Gardens Hotel (9 -12km / four hours):
You can either walk or request to be transported to Castleburn, from where you continue on the marked Giants Cup Trail above Winterhoek Hut. As you reach an altitude of about 1900 metres between the two river valleys of the Mzimkulu and the Mzimude, expect to see many pleasant vistas along the contour path to the top of the Drakensberg Gardens. Near the end of the trail you will see Drakensberg Gardens Hotel below. There are two options to descend from here – you can either return directly to the hotel, or follow the contour path further to the trail’s official end at Swimans Hut beyond the hotel, from where you will be collected. If time permits, you can also opt to enjoy a deck lunch at the hotel for your own account before being transferred back to your vehicle.