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The Bell Traverse - Route Description


Route Description

Note: The following itinerary should be seen only as a guide, as when hiking in any mountain area, weather and other circumstances can change our daily plans.

For each day we give the following information: (Distance, accumulated ascent, walking time*)

*Walking time includes rests.

The Bell Traverse - Drakensberg Mountains - South Africa

Day 1: Mike-s Pass – Organ Pipes Pass (11km, 1100m, 6-7h)

The hike starts at Mike’s Pass where we will be shuttled to. In no time the path heads up the long and steep ridge that leads to Organ Pipes Pass. The hard work is rewarded by the dramatic scenery of the Cathedral Peak area:  Cleft Peak, the Column, the Pyramid and all the way to the Cathedral Peak range.  We might be lucky and see the magnificent Cape Vulture or the highly endangered Lammergeier, also known as Bearded Vulture. Once we make the pass we enter the neighbouring country of Lesotho (no border control). We pitch our tents on the escarpment looking down into South Africa with Lesotho behind us. This is a strenuous but rewarding long day.

The Bell Traverse - Drakensberg Mountains - South Africa

Day 2: Organ Pipes Pass – Twins Cave (14km, 350m, 6-7h)

An early start begins with a sharp ascent to Cleft Peak. At 3277m this is one of the highest points in the Drakensberg. If the weather is clear the views will blow you away: the Amphitheatre to Cathkin Peak in the Monk’s Cowl area, a good 100km of the mountain range. Then it is a long descent to the Maloreng Valley, and up again over the Elephant before final drop to the Kwakwatsi Valley where our mountain pass is. Twins Cave is a fine and spacious overhang, one of the most visited rock shelters in the Drakensberg.

The Bell Traverse - Drakensberg Mountains - South Africa

Day 3: Twins Caves – Cathedral Peak Hotel (The Bell Traverse) (17km, 1600m, 6-7h)

The Bell Traverse is certainly the ‘cherry on the top!’ of this hike in the Drakensberg. From the moment you leave Twins cave, a surprise awaits around every corner. This challenging but exciting  path reveals itself in parts, but it is almost  impossible to guess where next it’s going to turn: around the Mitre, past the Chessmen, behind the Inner and outer Horns, around the Bell and then, before arriving at the foot of the Cathedral Peak, the final daunting challenge is Bugger’s gully. From here it is an easy 8km down to Cathedral Peak hotel.

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