Route 4: Giants Castle

Drakensberg hike – Giants Castle to Sani Mountain Lodge / via Giants Pass Traverse (5 days)

A very eventful hike for mostly two reasons. One, you will be summiting Thabana Ntlenyana (3482m), the highest point in Southern Africa, and two, you will finish at the highest pub (2874m) in Africa. Apart from those highlights you will be hiking right by the bulk of the Giant and camping along the way is special, particularly in the Lotheni area.

Day 1 – Giants Castle Hutted Camp to Giants Ridge

A slow and relaxed start after leaving the comforts of the main camp. The destination is a plateau like area offering camping right at the foot of Giants Castle. Open grassland and wide open spaces gives this area a nice feel.

  • Distance: 8km
  • Height gain: 610m

Day 2 – Giants Ridge to Lotheni (near the Hawk and the Tent)

Right from the start, you will see where we are headed and as you go farther and higher the huge escarpment wall gets bigger and better. Here you get a real feel for the sheer size of Giants Castle. If you feel fit, strong and super energetic the very significant summit of Giants Castle comes into play. Or, leave that for another day and walk a bit farther for great camping near the Hawk and the Tent.

  • Distance: 9km
  • Height gain: 785m

Day 3 – Lotheni to Thabana Ntlenyana

What comes to mind on this day is that you get a feel for the Kingdom of Lesotho and the remote lifestyle of its villagers. The day starts with a short but sharp climb followed by a long contour path with great vistas down into the valleys of the Lotheni area. To some extent, the landscape opens up a bit towards Lesotho from where a small bit of its endless mountainous landscape can be seen.

  • Distance: 20,5km
  • Height gain: 300m

Day 4 – Thabana Ntlenyana to the Mangaung River

Today is all about Thabana Ntlenyana (3842m), the highest point in Africa south of Kilimanjaro. From camp, it is nothing other than a full morning’s slog to the top. Beautiful views all around. Just when you think you are done for the day there is one more ridge to overcome. Atop that it is one-way traffic to a comfortable campsite in the valleys below. Sani is now close.

  • Distance: 15,5km
  • Height gain: 680m

Day 5 – Mangaung River to Sani Mountain Lodge / Pass

A quick one to Sani Mountain Lodge. A great reward at the end of a challenging hike.

  • Distance: 6,5km

More information

Core activity: Mountain walking (hiking).
Region: Central to Southern Drakensberg.
Duration: 5 days.
Variation 1: Hiking from Giants Castle to Sani Mountain Lodge can also be done in four days by combining days 1 and 2.
Variation 2: Instead of ascending the escarpment summit via Giants Pass, make it a 6-day hike by hiking to the Bannerman hut on day 1 and ascending the escarpment summit on day 2 via the Bannerman Pass.
When to go: All year. Best from April to July.
Itinerary rating: Moderate to hard.
Other information: No experience is required. All the relevant information will be provided once an enquiry has been made.
Departure time (hiking): Around 10:00.
Arrival time (hiking): Around 11:00.