Drakensberg hike – Sentinel to Cathedral Peak Traverse
May 20 - May 23
This route wasn’t previously rated by the National Geographic as one of the world’s top 10 best hikes. That is right, it is that good! This route is also known as the Mini Traverse because it features the first five days of the ultimate Drakensberg hike, the Grand Traverse. It features many of the Drakensberg’s most well-known landmarks, like the Amphitheatre, Tugela Waterfall and Madonna and Her Worshippers. This route is hands down a Drakensberg ultra classic.
DAY 1 Sentinel Car Park to Icidi
The hike starts with the gigantic Sentinel Peak dead ahead. Not too far away from the summit of the escarpment, which is the international border between South Africa and Lesotho. Here you have reached 3000m above sea level. Along the way are some of the Berg’s most well-known landmarks: the Chain Ladders and Tugela Waterfall, which at 948m is the second highest waterfall in the world. Enjoy the sheer magnitude of this place!
Walking distance: 15 km / height gain: 780m
DAY 2 Icidi to Mnweni
Two long climbs await you. The first one to the Fangs Pass area where Madonna and Her Worshippers is the main attraction. From there it is up to the Hanging Valleys where you will have lunch overlooking the best view of the Mnweni. The Hanging Valleys hosts a long contour path which leads to the final destination. Here is the source of South Africa’s biggest river, some of the Berg’s best caves and legendary peaks.
Walking distance: 16.5km / height gain: 622m
DAY 3 Mnweni to Twins Cave
Straight away the views keep coming. Moving past the Rockeries you get some perspective of the smallness and isolation of your position. Cape Vulture colonies nesting on the cliffs is a definite highlight. As soon as you move past the bulk of the Saddle you are nearing Cathedral territory. Before descending the last bit to Twins Cave have a look at what you are up against on day 4. Spend the night in the ever popular Twins Cave, a Berg hotel. Walking distance: 12km / height gain: 550m
DAY 4 Twins Cave to Cathedral Peak Hotel
The Bell Traverse on its own is nothing less than world class. This is the last place where you thought you would have walked. The views are unbeatable. It is a high contour path meandering around huge features like Mitre, Chessman, the Horns, the Bell and of course Cathedral Peak itself.
Walking distance: 18km / height lost: 1225m
This hike can be lengthened to five days for it to be a bit more relaxed. The four day version is strenuous where you need to be used to carrying a load. Previous experience may be required.