Route 5: Giants Castle

Giants Castle to Sani Mountain Lodge / via Bannerman Pass Traverse (6 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 comping along the way is special, particularly in the Lotheni area.

Day 1 – Giants Castle Hutted Camp to Bannerman Hut

A pleasant and relaxed day up to the summit of the Little Drakensberg and Bannerman Hut. Here you will be right at the base of a big day 2. Enjoy the last few comforts of roofed accommodation in a secluded spot surrounded by towering basalt walls.

  • Distance: km 10,5km
  • Height gain: 550m

Day 2 – Bannerman Hut to Mount Durnford

As soon as you set foot out the door it is one way traffic – up! Don’t be fooled by this day’s short distance. A real highlight along the way is Spare Rib Cave, a deep, big cave. Camping on this day is beautiful and comfortable. Rest well after a solid day, you will need it.

  • Distance: 6,5km
  • Height gain: 740m

Day 3 – Mount Durnford to Lotheni (near the Hawk and the Tent)

Another huge climb awaits as soon as the day’s hiking start. Mount Durnford along with the other peaks of the area have significant historical meaning going back to the 1800’s. As soon as you have moved over Mount Durnford enjoy beautiful vistas of the Giant itself. An interesting phenomenon happens here as soon as you pass Giants Castle. The whole Drakensberg range changes in a more southerly direction with eye catching changes in the landscape.

  • Distance: 11,5km
  • Height gain: 500m

Day 4 – 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: 680m

Day 5 – 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

Day 6 – 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: 6 days.
Variation: This hike can be shortened to five days by combining days 5 and 6.
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.