Grade: Easy to Moderate
Duration: 2 days
Total distance covered: ±11km
Total height gain: ±682m
(All distances should only be used as a guideline and a detailed route description will be supplied on confirmation of booking.)
What makes this special: This is a wonderful spot to overnight in with the added bonus of a waterfall providing “shower” facilities, (in winter it might not be so accommodating). This hike is easier than many people would think and is also ideal for children, although advisable to take a guide as the path is not that obvious.
Route: Xeni Cave is known for the two cement tables in the cave and for being a large, deep overhang with a relatively flat floor that could quite easily accommodate 30 hikers – so there is more than enough space for the maximum of 12 that is allowed. Over the years the conditions inside the cave have varied, mainly due to some hikers making fires in the cave, spoiling it for other hikers. Remember that it’s prohibited to make fires in any caves, see our section on cave etiquette and pooping in the mountains.
The views from the cave out over the Mlambonja valley are superb, and just a short walk away is an ideal spot to enjoy some sundowners while watching the sun setting over the high berg.
The route is not difficult, but there is a few river crossings that needs to be negotiated, the first river crossing over the Tseketseke River can be quite tricky especially in summer when the water level can be quite high. Remember to take care at any river crossing especially if the water is flowing strong. The path follows the Mlambonja River for most of the way and you will soon see the Column and Pyramid appearing in the valley. After crossing the river close to where the Xeni joins the Mlambonja River, the path turns left into a wild bolder strewn valley that leads up to Xeni cave. There is a feint path that takes you over the boulders with a few stream crossings. Unfortunately you cannot always rely on cairns to lead the way as they tend to get washed away by flood water. The safest way is to pick a good line through the rocks. Take care of loose rocks that can quite easily dislodge and fall onto a leg.
It is around now that a guide comes in handy as you head up a narrow wooded valley towards a large buttress, which is not always easy to find. There is actually a path that leads to a little cave that is not Xeni, and you need to head further upstream. The path will lead you to a steep uphill and on to a clump of trees that hides the overhang of Xeni Cave.
There is a waterfall over the top of the cave as well as a small stream that runs past the side of the cave in summer, but in winter this usually dries up and the nearest water source then is the Mlambonja River.
Included: Park & overnight fees, rescue levy and first aid kit.
Excluded: All meals and snacks, stove and pots, sleeping bag, backpack, personal gear and equipment, personal medication and footwear.
Gear Hire is available.