Drakensberg Grand Traverse

Drakensberg Grand Traverse

This ultimate Drakensberg hike, easily one of the world’s best. Isolation, wild expeditioning, camaraderie and friendship sums up this experience. The Drakensberg Grand Traverse is a hike along the entire length of the Drakensberg escarpment. In other words, all along the international border between South Africa and Lesotho. It starts at the Sentinel Car Park in the Northern Drakensberg and ends at Bushmans Nek in the Southern Drakensberg. It is roughly a distance of 230 kilometres with a total height gain of roughly 8000 metres. Six peaks are also summited which include Mont-Aux-Sources (3282 metres), Cleft Peak (3277 metres), Champagne Castle (3377 metres), Madafi (3450 metres and the highest point in South Africa), Giants Castle (3314 metres) and Thabana-Ntlenyana (3482 metres and the highest point in Southern Africa). Three or two fully portered resupplies are used to help share the carrying load (our standard version of the Grand Traverse uses two resupplies). Since we follow the escarpment edge for two weeks there are ample opportunities for viewing. It certainly is a thorough physical and mental challenge, but definitely a very big accomplishment when completed successfully

Group size: For a Grand Traverse to go ahead we need a minimum of four persons. The maximum is eight persons.

Cost: This depends on a variety of factors, like group size, number of porters, logistical requirements, and certain desired inclusions and exclusions.

Date: We always aim for the best Drakensberg weather windows. From about mid April to the end of May the weather is generally stable, not too cold, the mountain is still wet and the days are still fairly long.

The following is included:

  1. GUIDING: The entire hike will be led by an accredited Mountain Leader (NQF and MDT). All guiding we provide complies with the adventure guiding laws of South Africa.
    •           NQF – National Qualifications Framework.
    •           MDT – Mountain Development and Training Trust.
  2. Your OVERNIGHT FEE for the duration of the hike (13 nights). This would be your hiking permit.
  3. ACCOMMODATION and MEALS at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge.  This is for the night before the hike commences.
  4. ACCOMMODATION and DINNER at Sani Mountain Lodge. We will be going for the backpackers lodge. There are hot showers, basic cooking equipment, beds and bedding.
  5. TRANSPORT:  All transport related arrangements. By this we mean getting ourselves to the start, getting our vehicles to end as well as your vehicles (where needed).
    • – This covers:
    • The resupply team’s guiding fee. This will be driven and led by an accredited Mountain Leader.
    • Porters and their daily porter fees.
    • Their overnight fee for the duration of the resupply (their hiking permits).
    • Their transport costs to get to and from Giants Castle (Langalibalele Pass is in the Giants Castle area).
    • Their catering costs.
    • This resupply is 2 days and 1 night in duration.
    • – This covers:
    • A vehicle, trailer and driver up Sani Pass.
    • Note: The resupply teams are there to provide clean clothing, fresh food and take away rubbish along the way. We cannot carry equipment and provisions for 14 days.
  7. GRAND TRAVERSE / ITCHYFEET SA goody bag.  You will have to wait and see what this is.

A brief breakdown of the route description is as follows:

Day 1

Sentinel Car Park to Ifidi Buttress area (distance, 17 km / height gain, 1260m). Mont-Aux-Sources (3282m) summit day.

Day 2

Ifidi Buttress area to the Saddle (distance, 22km / height gain 855m).

Day 3

Saddle to Tseketseke Pass area (distance, 13km / height gain, 550m).

Day 4

Tseketseke Pass to Yodlers Cascades (distance, 15.5km / height gain, 700m). Cleft Peak (3277m) summit day.

Day 5

Yodlers Cascades to Leslies Pass area (distance, 16km / height gain, 680m). Champagne Castle (3377m) summit day.

Day 6

Leslies Pass area to Judge Pass (distance, 15.5km / height gain, 705m). Mafadi (3450m) Summit Day.

Day 7

Judge Pass to Langalibalele Pass area. The first resupply is here (distance, 7.5 km / height gain, 360m).

Day 8

Langalibalele Pass area to the Lotheni (distance, 12.5km / height gain, 630m). Giants Castle (3315m) summit day.

Day 9

Lotheni area to the foot of Thabana Ntlenyana (distance, 18.7km / height gain, 755m).

Day 10

Foot of Thabana Ntlenyana to Sani Mountain Lodge area (distance, 16.8 km / height gain, 880m). Thabana Ntlenyana (3482m) summit day.

Day 11

Hike to Sani Mountain Lodge. The second resupply is here (distance, 6.5km / height gain, 110m).

Day 12

Sani Mountain Lodge to Mashai Pass (distance, 20.5km / height gain, 960m).

Day 13

Mashai pass to Thomathu Pass (distance, 16.8km / height gain, 730m).

Day 14

Thomathu Pass to Bushmans Nek (distance, 11km / height gain, 270m).

More information

Core activity: Mountain walking (hiking).
Region: Northern, Central and Southern Drakensberg.
Duration: 14 days.
Variation: We can make use of three resupplies instead of two. That does subsequently change the route description compared to the one given above.
When to go: All year. Best from April to July.
Itinerary rating: Extreme.
Other information: Experience is required, you need to be well equipped and you must be use to carrying a full backpack. All the relevant information will be provided once an enquiry has been made.
Departure time (hiking): Around 08:00
Arrival time (hiking): Around 13:00