Duration: ±5 to 6 hours
Total distance covered: ±14km
Total height gain: ±300m
(All distances and times should only be used as a guideline.)
What makes this special: The Royal Natal National Park is home to the Tugela Falls, (the world’s second highest waterfall), and one of the finest one-day hike in South Africa. This walk should not be missed and is a must do in KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg and South Africa.
Route: Although the Tugela Gorge hike is one of the longer hikes in Royal Natal National Park, it is widely considered as one of South Africa’s best one-day hikes. The only downside to the Tugela Gorge hike is how busy the trail is! It’s pretty seldom that you have this trail to yourself unlike the hiking trails at Giants Castle.
To get to the start of the Tugela Gorge trail you drive into Royal Natal and park parking lot of Thendele Camp. At the parking area you will find a big map showing all the trails in the Park. The start of the hike is marked with a sign and the trail is clearly defined.
The path follows along the side of the mountain next to the river all the way to the Gorge – this same path is followed back to the starting point of the trail. Even though the hike is about 17 kilometres in total, it’s not strenuous but relatively flat most of way, and the distance makes this hike a bit tougher.
About a kilometre into the start of the trail, there is a bridge that needs to be crossed and shortly after that, the eroded sandstone pillar known as Policeman’s Helmet is in sight. Carry on walking along the path, which takes hikers in and out of lush forests and protea bushes. After about 6 kilometres, the trail takes you right into the riverbed of the Tugela, where you walk along the river for a couple of kilometres until you reach the Gorge.
This last end stretch before the Gorge is absolutely stunning with views of the bright and blue rock pools. At this point, you can either walk through the gorge or take the chain ladder on the right hand side and continue the trail to the base of the Tugela Falls. During rainy season, it is dangerous to wander through the gorge and it is highly recommended to take the chain ladder up the side of the gorge.
Included: Entrance fees, rescue levy and first aid kit.
Excluded: All meals and snacks, personal gear and equipment, and personal medication.