Drakensberg hiking trails
The Drakensberg Mountains offers some of the best hiking available anywhere in the world. From forest meanders to chain ladders anchored to steep buttresses, there are Drakensberg hiking trails that will appeal to beginner and expert, along with everyone in between. For hikers this means rocky terrain with breath-taking views. Rock paintings have been found extensively in the area dating back several thousands of years and are worth looking out for. Its not really the case that one area is better tan another so don’t worry that they might lose out on a good experience if you do not visit a particular area. but instead try to get a variety of the different aspects of the mountains. This is exactly why Antbear Lodge in the Central Drakensberg is such a good place to stay allowing easy access that variety of the different Drakensberg hiking trails.
The best Drakensberg hiking trails
This is a selection of our favorite day hiking trails in the Drakensberg Mountains. There are many more hiking trails available but we have selects what we think gives you access to the best rock art, the best views and the different aspects of the mountains.
- World’s view From the picnic area at Giants Castle take the concrete path down to and across Bannerman Bridge. Follow the path to below Sugarloaf Kop and on up to World’s View. A moderate 3 hrs hike (7km) Spectacular 360 degree view at the end point of the trail
- Berg view a short hike from the Giant’s Castle Camp to a popular viewpoint, offering one of the best views of the escarpment, ranging from Giant’s Castle to Cathkin Peak. A fair 2 hrs hike (5km) Top tip is to hike the trail the wrong way round resulting in you walking towards the best views rather them having them at your back
- Game Pass Shelter in the Kamberg. an easy 3 hours (7km) with spectacular bushman rock art and lovely views of that Southern Drakensberg aspect of the mountains. A bonus is the waterfall you pass at waterfall shelter.
- Main Caves This hike leads from Giants Castle Camp, along the river near the edge of a forest, up to the large caves, which are crucial archaeological sites and have been turned into a museum showing the Bushman’s way of life. Tours are conducted throughout the year. An easy 40min hike and is ideal for those who are looking for that gentle stroll
- Round Trip to Sterkspruit Falls, onto Nandies Falls and Back to the Monks Cowl Entrance. 3 to 4 hours. Take the path to Sterkspruit falls. Before the falls turn up the river and follow the signs to Nandi Falls. Spend some time at the rock pools on the way. A great option for the lower reaches of the Drakensberg that includes waterfalls, some shade and allows time to partake in some of the Drakensberg activities on offer in the area
- To the top of the Escarpment and the 950m Tugela Waterfall There is only one place you can reasonably get to the top of the Drakensberg escarpment and back down again in one day and that is at the Sentinel Peak. The drive alone is spectacular. The walk is 5 hours 2,5 hours each way. You ascend the last 20 meters using a chain ladder and are rewarded with a view overlooking the Royal Natal Reserve. Also you are at the source of the Tugela river where it falls some 950m. 2nd highest in the world.
Central Drakensberg hiking Trails
- World’s view From the picnic area take the concrete path down to and across Bannerman Bridge. Follow the path to below Sugarloaf Kop and on up to World’s View. A moderate 3 hrs hike (7km)
- Bannerman Hut A long hike from the Giant’s Camp northwest along a clear path, with an early start it is easy to make the hut by mid-morning. The hut must be booked through KZN Nature Conservation Service.
- Berg view a short hike from the Giant’s Castle Camp to a popular viewpoint, offering one of the best views of the escarpment, ranging from Giant’s Castle to Cathkin Peak. A fair 2 hrs hike (5km)
- Centenary Hut Injasuti. Follow the path Pastfergy’s Cave for 4kms t centenary of the contour path. A severe 5 hrs hike (10 km).
- Champagne Pools a circular walk starting 1km from Giant’s Castle main gate. Secluded pools for swimming and fishing. An easy hike (4kms – 1.5 hrs)
- Giant’s Castle Pass The hike begins at Giant’s Castle Camp and continues up to the top of the little Berg, up the very steep Giant’s Pass. Not for the inexperienced. An extreme 4 hrs or 6km hike (from Giants Hut)
- Grysbok Bush This hike, starting at Giant’s Castle main camp, takes you up the Bushman’s River to the largest forest in the Giant’s Castle area.
- Langalibalele Pass Follow the path from the main Giant’s Castle Camp past the main caves. The path is consistently steep although the pass itself is one of the easiest and shortest in the berg. Follow the path from the main Giant’s Castle camp past the main caves. A severe 3 hrs 30 min hike (6.5km)
- Main Caves This hike leads from the camp, along the river near the edge of a forest, up to the large caves, which are crucial archaeological sites and have been turned into a museum showing the Bushman’s way of life. Tours are conducted throughout the year at set times in the company of a field ranger. An easy 40min hike
- Meander Hut There are two ways to get to this hut, which overlooks the Meander Stream from its perch on top of the cliffs of the Little Berg. The hut accommodates four people and it must be booked. A fair hike. (5.5kms – 2hrs)
- River Walk this pleasant stroll has no specific destination and can join the forest walk for a most enjoyable ramble. An easy 1.5kms – 30mins hike
- Battle Cave to Injasuti Cave This is a guided tour of the battle cave where a pictorial display of bushman life In this valley complete with a taped guide to the paintings are seen. One can stay for a night at the Lower Injasuti Cave, but bookings must be made in advance for both this and the Battle Cave tour. Trout fishing, hiking, swimming, curios, charcoal, maps. A moderate 4 hrs hike (8.5km)
- Grindstone Caves and Cataract Valley This hike begins at Injasuti camp and follows a circular route via Grindstone Caves, the waterfalls and Cataract Valley. The path follows the Mhlwazini River back to the camp. A moderate 4 hrs hike (13km)
- Marble Baths From Injisuthi Camp follow the route to Fergy’s Cave but take he right fork along the Injisuthi River approximately 4kms from the start. You can overnight at the Marble Baths Cave. A moderate hike. (8.5kms – 6hrs)
- Old Kraal and Yellowwood Forest This is a short walk in the vicinity of the camp. From the office at Injasuti take the Cowl Stream fork. At the top of the incline turn left to the walls of the old kraal. And shortly after that left again to the old woman stream. After crossing the river turn left and follow the path back to camp. An easy 1 hr hike (2.5km)
- Van Heyningen’s Pass to View Point This will serve as a hikers’ orientation with the surrounding landscapes and major peaks. A moderate 3 hrs hike (8km)
- Wonder Valley: Five hours + moderate. This secluded and beautiful valley lies on the southern side of the Champagne Valley and is accessed from the R 600 either starting at the road bend just below Champagne Castle Hotel or just above the S Bends slightly above Falcon Ridge. This is private property although access is allowed to the public. If starting from Champagne Castle area follow the path from the top of the bend in the road and follow the contour footpath along the Heritage Site fence. After a long walk you will reach the valley and you will see one or 2 secluded cottages.
- Heritage Walk: This easy 3 hour round walk starts at “The Oaks” Supermarket in Dragon Peaks Park and can also be accessed from the other properties in the area. However it does pass through private property and does enter the World Heritage Site so entrance fees must be paid and you must be accompanied by an approved guide. Walks generally commence most days at 9.00 am from the Oaks Supermarket. The walk goes up the Sterkspruit River on into Bush Reserve No 1 which is part of the World Heritage Site. Here you can see a 600 year old Yellow Wood tree and see the saw pits used by the early loggers. Mooney’s pool is a nice stop off place with a small pool with cascading water . The guide will then take you on to Dingaan’s Cave where you can view some good examples of bushman rock art.
- The Sphinx and onto Breakfast stream back via Kirtland’s Pass. Moderate to Strenuous. + 6hours. This oft walked path takes you on to the top of the Little Berg ( Breakfast Stream) . If you like you can then go on to Blind Mans corner and the contour path. However unless you want to access the contour path for further hikes there is no point in going all the way to the contour path and a preferred option would be to turn off right before Blind Mans Corner and return via Kirtland’s Pass. This less used path offers a real wilderness experience winding down through a secluded valley.
Northern Drakensberg Hiking Trails
- Cathedral Peak Hike
An extreme 6 to 7 hrs hike – 10km.
A long arduous hike requiring a high level of fitness. Starts from Cathedral Peak Hotel, up the path to the Cathedral Ridge. Rock scrambling is often necessary due to rock slides on the gully below the peak.
- Contour Path – Cathedral Peak to Ndedema
A moderate to severe hike of 3 hours or 3.5 kms
A long hard hike. Starts at Cathedral Peak Hotel, up to contour path below Cathedral range and follow it southwards. Hike passes underneath the main escarpment and back down the Ndedema Gorge.
- Contour Path- Ndedema to Monk’s Cowl
A moderate 2 day hike(27.5 kms)
A severe hike which starts at the contour path at the upper end of the Ndedema Valley. This is reached via the solar cliffs path in the Cathedral area, or via the Hikes’ Pass route up to the contour path. The hike follows the contour path southwards traversing the Mdedela Wilderness area.
- Mlambonja Pass to Twins Cave
A severe 6-8 hrs hike (11 kms)
From Cathedral Peak Hotel the path follows the river past the trout hatchery and up to the top of the little berg above the mlambonja river. The pass is consistently very steep and long.
- Mlambonja Valley (3)
A moderate 30 mins – 2 hrs hike (1,5 – 5,2 kms)
There are three hikes, the lower valley 1,5 km, neptunes pool 4,2 km and marble baths 5,2 km. The Mlambonja Pass Route bypasses most of the lower river valley. All hikes begin at the Cathedral Peak Hotel.
- Mushroom Rock
A fair 1 hr hike (2 kms)
This is a fairly steep hike, which leads up behind the hotel to a large mushroom-shaped rock.
- Old Furrow Trail
There are displays along the route which makes the trail is convenient for school groups. The trail gives views of the Bushman’s River and wild animals especially buck may be seen in the open grassland. Picnic sites are available.
- Rainbow Gorge
A fair 2 hrs hike (5.5 kms)
This is probably one of the most picturesque hikes in the area. From the hotel skirt the base of Tryme Hill westwards, then eastwards on the path into the gorge. Once in the gorge itself the path follows the river.
- Two Passes and Cleft Peak Escarpment Hike
An extreme 3 days hike (40 kms)
The route starts at the top of Mike’s Pass near Cathedral Peak Hotel, up the long ridge and the very steep Organ Pipes Pass. Traverse the escarpment and descend via Mlambonja Pass. This hike is classified extreme and for good reason. Not to be undertaken by the unfit or inexperienced. Mike’s Pass to Cathedral Peak Hotel via Organ Pipes
- Amphitheatre to Cathedral
4 to 5 days (62kms) The route passes parts of the Drakensberg including the Amphitheatre, Mbundini, Mnweni and The Rockeries, The Saddle and The Cathedral range.
- Devil’s Hoek Valley
A fairly easy hike of 1hr(3km) The path gets progressively steeper and the views more spectacular. Royal Natal National Park. The route takes you from the Tugela River Carpark along the the Tugela Valley and then up the Devil’s Hoek tributary
- Mckinley’s Pool, Gudu Falls, The Grotto
Moderate distances, the route is well marked and fairly easy to hike and explore. There are many clear rock pools where you could enjoy a swim. Royal Natal National Park, numerous trails leading off from the Mahai Campsite up the river valley to Mckinley’s Pool.
- Rugged Glen to Mahai
5-6hrs (14kms) Rugged Glen is a nature reserve connected by road to the Mahai Campsite.
- Sigubudu Ridge and Valley
A moderate hike of 4-5 hrs (12km) The path takes you through Protea Veld, past Sunday Falls to Fairy Glen. Royal Natal National Park. This is a round trip from Mahai Campsite via Sigubudu Valley.
- Tugela Gorge
A moderate hike of + 2 hrs (7km) The route goes through alternative stretches of protea veld and forest, and the scenery beyond the gorge is rivaled only by the view from the top of the Tugela Falls.
- Vemaan Valley
One of the fairly easy Drakesberg hiking trails of 1hr. 45mins (4.3km) A rare species of protea, known as protea nubigena has been found here. Royal Natal National Park. Follow the same route as for Devil’s Hoek Valley, but 1 km after turning right at the junction leading up to Devil’s Hoek, the Vemaan Path leads off to the left over the Devil’s Hoek River.
Southern Drakensberg Hiking Trails
- Giants Cup This trail goes from Sani Pass in the Southern Drakensberg to Silver Streams at Bushman’s Nek. It is a 5 day hike over 50 kilometres but 2, 3 or 4 day hikes are also possible. Huts are equipped with bunks and mattresses. Hikers must provide their own food, sleeping bags, lighting, stoves, cooking utensils and first-aid equipment