Grade: Extreme
Duration: 4 to 5 days
Total distance covered: ±40km
Total height gain: ±1965m
(All distances should only be used as a guideline and a detailed route description needs be supplied on confirmation of booking.)
What makes this special: This hike showcases some of the best views and ruggedness in the Drakensberg but be warned it will test all your determination and you will need a good level of fitness.
Route/Description: This is usually a four to five-day outing in the very beautiful and rugged Mnweni area of the Drakensberg. The 5 day version adds an extra day in to explore the escarpment and sleep one night in Mponjwane Cave.
The walk starts from the Mnweni Cultural Centre and after sorting out the paperwork you can hit the trail. One option is to walk on the road to where the trail turns off left or you can arrange with the camp manager for a lift to the start – there might be a small fee involved.
The path is well worn and very eroded at places and you need to have your map close by as there is a spiders web of little paths that leads off in all directions especially early on.
Although the whole length of the Drakensberg is superb for hiking, this area is widely regarded as one of the ‘Berg’s top destinations. The escarpment makes a large cutback (called the Mnweni Cutback), and as a result adds a tremendous feeling of isolation and looking up at the peaks makes you feel very small as you walk through the area.
The mountain passes we will be using is the Mnweni and Rockeries Passes and both are steep and hard work. However all your hard work and efforts will be well rewarded. Some of the major peaks to look out for is the Inner and Outer Mnweni Needles and Pinnacles.
The highlight of the outing is without a doubt a full view of the loose standing Mponjwane, or Rockeries Tower. This is one of the Berg’s legendary peaks and Mponjwane is often climbed by nimble footed rock climbers.
Starting off at Mnweni Cultural Centre our day starts early as we aim to reach the foot of Mnweni Pass on day one, so it’s always a good idea to arrive a day earlier and sleep over at the Cultural Centre for an early start.
Day two is a one way slog up a 1000m ascent, and looking back down from where you came will greet you with majestic views of the peaks and sheer rock faces around you. We will be camping in tents right at the start of the Senqu River that later on becomes the mighty Orange River.
The third day if chosen can be used to explore the escarpment and if not occupied, we will sleep one night in Mponjwane Cave. A night here will give you the opportunity to be woken up by a truly unique Drakensberg sunrise as the sun will literally shine into your “room”.
Our second last day will take us to Rockeries Pass where we will descend down into the valley where we will camp right next to the river. As we descend we will see the Rockeries, North Peak and the Saddle right up close and personal.
Your last day is an easy walk out and it follows the path that joins up with the dirt road that takes you right back to the Cultural Centre. The path is a bit monotonous but you will walk through some of the poorest and most rural areas in South Africa. Before long you will be on you final stretch and soon you will be back at the Cultural Centre. One word of caution keep an eye out for ticks, they seem to be quite prevalent in this area due to the amount off cattle present in the area.
Included: Park & overnight fees, rescue levy and first aid kit.
Excluded: All meals and snacks, stove & pots, sleeping bag, backpack, personal gear and equipment, personal medication and footwear.
Gear Hire is available.
Porters can be included at an additional cost.