Introduction to hiking in the Drakensberg
The Drakensberg has the largest conglomeration of day walks and longer hikes in South Africa and is also undoubtedly the most popular outdoor pursuit in this region.
A range of favourite hikes
There are several beautiful walking and hiking trails in the Drakensberg which mainly start from the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Camps, such as Giants Castle, Injisuthi, Monks Cowl, Cathedral Peak and Royal Natal. Some of my personal favourites are Crystal Falls and the Spinx; Nandi Falls together with the Sterkspruit Falls; Gray’s Pass; the Sunset Trail; Matterhorn, Injisuthi to Monks Cowl and the Blue Grotto, combined with the Fern Forest, Mnweni Pools, Main Cave in Giants Castle Nature Reserve and the Thukela Gorge Hike.
I have divided these hikes by the following camps or areas:
Monks Cowl and Champagne Valley (Cathkin Park)
Grays Park Hike (Source: James Seymour and YouTube)
All Trails and Komoot are must-have apps for hiking in the Drakensberg. Additionally, Googles Maps have loaded most of these hikes. Another useful application that can be used is “TrailGuide”, and a helpful website is drakensberghikes.com.
Some key tips to consider when taking a walk or longer hike
- Firstly, sign the mountain rescue register;
- Secondly, wear sturdy leather boots and carry a walking pole;
- Thirdly, wear a light rucksack even in the case of a walk;
- Also, ensure it contains food items for at least one day, warm clothing and a poncho (the weather in the Berg can change suddenly), sufficient water, a small medical aid kit, a cell phone, map, torch and a box of matches;
- Moreover, in case you encounter a bushfire try to get as quickly as possible to a small grove of trees or light a fire break around you. At worst run directly through the fire and roll;
- If caught in a lightning storm, urgently head for a forest. At worst squat over a piece of insulating material and ideally cover yourself with a poncho or raincoat. Discard any metal items and leave your backpack a distance from you. Do not lie down or stand under an isolated tree; and
- Lastly, walk in a group of at least three persons.