Drakensburg mountains / uKhahlamba

I am in Sri Lanka writing a post about South Africa, its 3am, I cant sleep, its too hot and humid, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t go for A/C (it was twice the price!) but that’s detail, so a quick time warp back to February 2016, and to the Drakensburg mountain range, (Dragon mountains), or uKhahlamba (barrier of spears).

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The mountain is split into 3 distinct sections – The North, Central, and South, and forming the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, stretches over the KwaZula-Natal, encompassing the kingdom of Lesotho.

Crisp fresh air, green landscapes, breath taking vistas, what’s not to like……?

I stayed at the Sani Pass lodge in the south for a few nights, and with the help of the staff there, was able to figure out a few day treks using the lodge as a base. Overnight options (sleeping in caves, if that’s your thing) were available, as were 4×4 trips into Lesotho along the Sani Pass (closed to non- 4WD).

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Walking the Sani pass was a highlight for me, and even though it was a bit laborious at times, the border crossing was a novelty, I managed to hitch a free pony ride with a few of the locals there, and the hike back down with views of the Sani pass was incredible. Definitely something to do on a motorbike…..

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After 2 nights I decided to catch up with a trekking partner that I had met, and moved onto the central region, staying at the Injisuthi lodge. The most popular walks here are around Cathedral Peak, Champagne Castle and Monks Cowl.

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Unfortunately the weather was bad for my time here, so despite the long hikes, I was only teased with occasional views of the highest and most dramatic parts of the mountains. My friends giant yellow poncho did cheer me up though, and he looked (in his words not mine), like a giant Dutch condom.

As a side note, I did meet a writer and actor here, a man called Richard L Sueur, who had travelled SA on his motorbike in the winter, in pursuit of the snow, and had written a book called Chasing African Snow. Apparently, South Africans have a thing for snow?

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Finally, after a few nights, I moved to the North, and staying a little out of the national Parks at a backpackers called Karmas, ran by a women famous across SA for her intricate jam recipes (amazing!), I completed the 14 mile gorge walk to the base of the Tugela falls and Amphitheatre, and also the Sentinel Chain ladder walk to the top of the Tugela falls themselves (second highest falls in the world at 947m!).

Chain ladders meaning chain ladders attached to the vertical side of the mountain that you need to climb to reach the highest plateau. This is what I love about SA, the freedom to be able to take a little risk without all the H&S worry.

A week, even though fast paced, was just enough time here, but something tells me I will be back.

I’m not sure what it was, but this part of SA had a real draw for me….

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