Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A 3-day hike in the Little Berg - Amira, Sook Leen and Hermina - March 2012

A typical scene in the Little Berg with the ever-present layer of Clarens Sandstone

One of the perks of working as a mountain guide is that you meet lots of interesting people. Amira from Algeria, Sook Leen from Malaysia and Hermina from Romania, are all now living and working in London. They met eight years ago when they started working in banking and have lived there ever since. They came to South Africa for a wedding but also took the opportunity to see more than just Franschhoek. Amira, being the most adventurous of the three, convinced Sook Leen and Hermina to join her for a hike in the Drakensberg. It was out of their comfort zone but a very enjoyable experience, it seemed.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pondo-Pedal – A Wild Coast Ride from Port Edward to Mtentu

A piece of paradise

A few weeks ago we joined our friends from Active Escapes for a ride along the Wild Coast. The Wild Coast is an incredible 300km stretch of virtually pristine coastline from Port Edward to East London. I usually guide their Wild Ride mountain bike tour in the Wild Coast which runs from Kei Mouth to Port St John’s, a 200km ride of sheer fun and fatigue. However I had never visited this northern part of the coast.

Amphitheatre Heritage Hike - Bernhard and Christine - February 2012

Bernhard and Christine with the iconic Amphitheatre

Bernhard and Christine from Cologne in Germany had hiked to Zulu Cave with me in February last year. They enjoyed their trip so much that they came for a second trip this February. I was once again happy to assist them with another hike. On their last visit they have only experienced the berg from the foothills so it seemed appropriate to share the experience of having a bird’s eye view of this incredible mountain range from the top of the escarpment. The easiest way to do this is by hiking to the top of the Amphitheatre from the Sentinel Car Park via the famous Chain Ladder.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Giant’s Castle with Markus and Christiana – February 2012

Markus and Christiana from Munich with Giant's Castle

Giant’s Castle, the easternmost point on the Natal escarpment, is a prominent peak in the Drakensberg. 3314m above sea level it is the 10th highest point in South Africa and can be ‘easily’ climbed on foot via the Giant’s Castle Pass, its head being only 2km from the summit.

While researching for their 3-week holiday in South Africa, Markus and Christiana from Munich had read about the Giants Castle in the Drakensberg Mountains, and decided to start their journey with a hike in the area.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mafadi with Bradley, Ruan, Peter and Donovan - January 2012

The escarpment illuminated by the first beams of sunlight
The first hike in 2012 was Mafadi, our most popular hike in the Berg. Bradley, Ruan, Peter and Donovan, 4 fun-loving law students from Pretoria, made up a super vibrant party. It was their first trip to the escarpment so this was a great adventure for them, a great way to charge batteries before the start of their final year at university.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Year's Eve at Tarn Cave - December 2011

Tarn Cave is big and deep overhang in the Clarens sandstone with fantastic 180-degree views.

Finally, this year I had the opportunity to spend a New Year’s Eve in the Drakensberg. Our friend James Voortman had scheduled a combined meet for the Mountain Club of South Africa and the Mountain Backpackers hiking club of Durban, and invited us to join them. Tarn cave, one of the finest natural shelters in the whole range, was the chosen venue. Located in the Bushman’s Nek Area in the southern Drakensberg, a 10km moderate walk from the main camp, this deep overhang in the Clarens sandstone has great vast panoramic views all the way from the Devil’s Knuckles to the Garden Castle.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A 3 day hike in the Cathedral Peak Area - December 2011

The long steep climb to Cleft Peak

Sue and Roger are ones of the many South Africans living in the UK. Christmas is always a good time to come back home for a family holiday, recharge and take a break from the long, cold, rainy English winter. For them, a few days hiking in the Drakensberg at the start of their holiday was the quickest way to switch off from the busy city life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An Afro-Italian hike to Mafadi - November 2011

The party on the escarpment. From left to right: Simona, Tank, Valerio and  Elna.

A few months had elapsed since my last visit to the High Berg so I was really excited to this hike. This time the party was made up of Valerio and Simona from Italy and Elna and Tank from Pretoria, a nice Afro-Italian mix. This was my 6th hike to Mafadi in 2011 but, no matter how many times you hike in the Drakensberg, it is always a different and inspirational experience.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Zulu Cave - Greg and Michelle - October 2011

Greg and Michelle with Sterkhorn

After a 2-month ‘break’ running our cycling tours in the Indian Himalayas, I was happy to be back in the mountains I love so much. American siblings Greg and Michelle were looking for an overnight hike that would allow them to experience the real wilderness of the Drakensberg. Zulu Cave is one of those overnight spots that are close enough from camp to make it easily accessible in a day, but far enough to feel remote.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

From Mafadi to a hike in the Little Berg - August 2011

Sunrise from our campsite at the bottom of Leslie’s Pass, in the morning of the 3rd day.
It was the beginning of August and this was to be our last hike of the long cold winter of 2011. A few cold fronts had swept across the Drakensberg so I was expecting the passes and the escarpment to be partially, if not fully, covered in snow. For this reason my plan was to do the route the opposite way around: up Leslie’s Pass and down Judge’s Pass. This way, most of the route to Mafadi would be on the warmer northern slopes where the snow melts quicker. Once on top, if the colder southern slopes on the other side of Mafadi carried too much snow, we could always retrace out steps and go back down the same way. In the end, things didn’t go according to the plan but this still ended up being a great hike in the Little Berg.