The Bannerman Hut experience
The Bannerman Hut walk in Giants Castle is not the most difficult walk in the area, however it is quite scenic with some aspiring views not only over the Kwa-Zulu Natal interior, but the high peaks surrounding Bannerman Pass as well. For those with a wanderlust and loads of energy, a walk up Bannerman Pass will allow you to experience the vastness of the Drakensberg, but don’t be fooled it’s not going to be just a quick walk in the park.
After meeting and greeting we had a short discussion over the plans for the upcoming walk over some coffee and then we got to the serious business of starting to pack bags and making sure it fits properly. Marijke enjoys hiking and Harry is more into cycling so fitness will not be a problem, what I have found is that most of the times fitness is not a big issue, however it is more the altitude combined with the narrow paths and rough conditions under foot that makes it very difficult for our overseas clients.
With bags packed and loaded into the vehicle we set of on our journey to Giants Castle. I looked out the window and could see some dark clouds building over the peaks and I knew rain was forecasted and it would just be a matter of time before we will get wet. On arriving at the camp I sort out the necessary paper work, remember to always fill out the mountain register before you venture off onto the trails as this is your safety line if something might go wrong.
Our first day would take us to Bannerman Hut, a very basic mountain hut in today’s standards and only a shimmer of its former glory and luxury, however it still beats sleeping in a tent in the rain. To get to the hut we would first have to walk about 10,5 km of which the first 6km’s is mostly uphill before you reach the contour path and then the next 4,5 km is a bit easier as it follows the contour to the hut. Pack on our shoulders we set off and as we cross the Bushman’s River we could see that the area had some good rains recently and at one of the small streams we quickly filled water bottles before we set our sights on the looming up hill. For the first time you see it, it looks very daunting task and the best way to climb any hill is to do it bit by bit.
Soon we were huffing and puffing, sweat beading on us and we have not yet even started. Today was ideal hiking weather, it was cool and the rain was treating to come down at any minute, however kept away and as we made our way slowly up the slope we had a few drops here and there. To be safe we covered our bags and made our way up the last little section before we reached the junction were we were planning to have some lunch. Our energy levels were quite low by the time we reach the junction and it was a welcome break from the walking. When you put the bag down it really feels like someone has removed a huge burden from your back.
I must just stop here and thanks the staff at Antbear for all the goodies they supplied to Harry and Marijke, they really spoiled them with choice and every taste was catered for. We had some time to relax and just chat about life and living we could hear some far off rumbling and the sky getting darker towards the Injasuthi part of the Berg. As one we got up and began packing up to get going before the rain starts. From here it’s a bit of an easier walk of 4,5km to the hut and soon we would be sitting around the table talking about our experiences.
The hut is situated on a spur on the bottom of Bannerman Pass and from the hut you can only see part of the pass itself. The rain never came and it was actually getting a bit warmer and the hut was a welcome sight and as we walked inside we were glad to be here. We carried one of the benches out and relaxed outside watching the sunlight play over the valley way below us. The clouds started building over the high peaks again and the wind turned cool and we could hear the bubbling of the stream nearby, however the water was cold and not as appealing as it would have been on a hot day. We did how ever make use of the stream to wash off all the sweat and freshen up a bit before relaxing well into the early evening before enjoying supper outside watching the clouds change colour before being forced inside by the mist rolling in from the bottom of the valley.