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Spanafrican Adventures's Blog

The latest news on Spanafrican Adventures operations.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mafadi with Gilly and Mark - July 2011

Brilliant picture on top of Mafadi. You can tell it was “quite” chilly.


UK-based Gilly and Mark had decided to spend their honeymoon in South Africa, Gilly’s mother’s country of origin. Being outdoor enthusiasts they had planned a very active holiday, including some good challenging hiking in the Drakensberg.

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Mafadi Trek with Charly and Charlie - July 2011

Cathkin peak and its other companions just before dark.


Charly from Belgium was coming to South Africa to take part in the Big Five Marathon in the Entabeni Game Reserve. But he wanted to take the challenge a little further and hike to SA’s highest peak a few days after the marathon. He admitted it would have been better if he had had a few more days rest in between. He had done Kilimanjaro by 3 different routes and according to him that was a child’s play in comparison with Mafadi.

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A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011


Once on top we were surprised to see that the Berg was mostly covered in snow, especially on the southern slopes.


This year winter arrived early and in full force. At the beginning of June, a powerful cold front coming from the south west left the whole High Berg covered in snow, a beautiful wintry sight like I hadn’t seen in years. However, I was hoping that most of the snow would be melt for my next hike in 2 weeks time. It wasn’t going to be.

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Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The whole party. We had spent 5 unforgettable days together in the mountains. This is a picture to look at in 10 years time!


At the end of May 2011 I had the fortune of spending 5 fantastic days in the Drakensberg Mountains with 9 adventurous Capetownians. With 9 porters we were a big yet harmonious party. We had to endure tough weather conditions with ice cold high winds but the mind-blowing vistas made it all worth it.

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Mafadi with Driekie and Riaan - May 2011

Driekie and Riaan with their Leslie's Pass. How to forget that climb?


Driekie and Riaan had visited the Drakensberg many times before and done a few challenging day hikes but they had never backpacked and been in the High Berg in the past. They had visited the Injisuthi Area before and knew that Mafadi, South Africa’s highest point, was somewhere up there not far from the top of Leslie’s Pass. It was time to go for it. But nothing could prepare them for that steep climb up the pass, not to mention the unexpected high winds that we would encounter on top. It’s so easy to underestimate the Drakensberg... However, even though it was probably the toughest 4 days they had ever been through, I knew they had what was needed and they managed just fine. It’s hard to forget that close look at the Dragon, its changing moods and its indescribable beauty.

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Mafadi Trek - April 2011

Our campsite by the Centenary Hut. As soon as the sun set the temperature plummeted.


Autumn is usually a lovely time of the year to hike in the Drakensberg as it offers the best weather conditions: cloudless skies and cool temperatures. The air is crispy, the visibility fantastic, the light simply stunning with beautiful sunrises and sunsets in cool pastel tones that provide food for the soul.

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The Grand Traverse of the Drakensberg - April 2011

This is why I love what I do.


The Grand Traverse is the mother of all hikes in the Drakensberg. With a total distance of about 230km and a total elevation gain over 9000m (higher than Everest), the preferred length of this trip is between 12 to 15 days. The hike runs along the top of the escarpment, keeping as close to the edge as possible for good vistas, and stays at an average altitude of 3000m, crisscrossing the border between Lesotho and South Africa. It’s a remote area, inhabited by the hardy Basotho shepherds, accompanied by their loyal dogs, who use these high lands for grazing for their sheep, goats, cows and horses. They leave the area during the winter months when it gets too cold for comfort.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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The Bell Traverse - A 3 day hike - December 2010

The Bell Traverse


Jude and Mark, a young couple from Calgary, Canada, contacted us last November for a hike in the High Berg. They had a broad hiking experienced in the Rocky Mountains and the Andes so they were keen for something ambitious. I suggested The Bell Traverse. This is one of the most popular hikes in the Drakensberg and for many the most beautiful of all. However, an above averaged physical condition and a head for heights are essential.

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Giant's Castle - A 3 day hike - December 2010

The effort rewarded. Amazing views of the Long Wall.


Last December 2010, I was asked to guide a group of hikers to the top of Giant's Castle, at 3314m the 10th highest point in the Drakensberg Mountains. The peak gives name to the Giants Castle area in the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.

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The Bell Traverse – Drakensberg – last minute training?

Heading toward Organ pipes pass, a long hard slog!

Heading toward Organ pipes pass, a long hard slog!

Last week 9 of us headed for the hills to enjoy one of the best seasons in the Drakensberg - winter. This usually means clear cloudless skys, freezing nights, possible snow, but definetly no rain and great views despite the haze from the pyromaniac tendencies that all landowners  seem to have during the winter season.

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