Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The first Span-African Bell Traverse - March 2011

A great outlook point of the Mlabonja Valley no far from Twins Cave.

Last week I had the opportunity to lead my first black group in the Drakensberg Mountains. African people haven’t traditionally practised mountain sports for pleasure, but times are changing and, with better education and economical resources, cultural barriers are gradually disappearing. So this was a really special trip and I had been looking forward to experiencing the new South Africa since the moment my clients had confirmed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

An overnight hike to Zulu Cave - March 2011

Great light from Zulu Cave

Christina and Bernhard from Germany had never camped in the mountains before. They just wanted to do 2 day hikes in a nice area. Didn’t they want to overnight in a beautiful cave instead, I asked them? To stay in a cave is of the unique experiences that we are fortunate to have in the Drakensberg. The Bushmen used these natural shelters, formed by erosion in the Clarens sandstone, for many thousands of years before the arrival of the white man in the mid 1850s, when they were sadly hunted for trophies until they were completely exterminated. The Bushmen are now long gone but the caves are still there. Some of them feature some of the finest rock art in the world, which is one of the reasons why the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park was declared world heritage site in 2000.

A hike to Mafadi, the highest peak in South Africa - February 2011

Sabine and Herbie on the summit. At 3450m, Mafadi is the highest peak in South Africa

Sabine and Herbier from Holland have done some interesting and serious treks in the Andes and Jordan, and were eager to experience the Drakensberg during their visit to South Africa in March. Not surprisingly they were fit and were up for a serious challenge.

A 3 day "luxury" hike to the Amphitheatre - February 2011

The Elands River Falls from the top of the Chain Ladder.

Philippe was working in South Africa over an extended period so he didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get to know some of highlights of the country, like the Drakensberg.His wife Anne and his 12-year old daughter Zoe were going to join him from France for a holiday, and he wanted to do something new this time: an overnight hike in the Drakensberg.

A 6 day traverse in the Northern Drakensberg - February 2011

Another beautiful sunrise from Roland's Cave
Oliver and Ben from the UK were attending a wedding in South Africa, so they took the opportunity to combine it with a 2 week holiday and do some of the things they love most, including kite surfing and hiking.  Naturally they were both very fit and were keen for a hiking challenge in the high berg.  Fortunately they had time and dedicated 6 days to their challenge. The choice of hike was obvious:  start at the northern extreme of the Natal Drakensberg, the Sentinel Car Park, and walk southwards as far as we could, potentially including Mafadi, the highest peak in the Drakensberg, along the way. It was an ambitious idea but it had been done before. With a high standard of fitness and long days it was possible.