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

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.

Mafadi, at 3450m, is the highest peak in South Africa. It’s really just another round dome shared with Lesotho but it’s the getting there that makes it a fantastic hike. What it so special is the remoteness and the fact that getting there, is challenging. The 4-day trip starts at Injisuthi Camp, one of my favourite spots in the Berg. The elevation at that point is 1450m, 2000m below the peak. While there’s a lot of climbing which isn’t easy with a heavy pack the views are something else. I think you will find that the pictures speak for themselves.

If you would like to do this hike contact us at [email protected] or have a look at our website www.spanafrican-adventures.co.za for other exciting options.

 

The ever cheerful Sabine and Herbie - We had lots in common including our backpacks
The ever cheerful Sabine and Herbie – We had lots in common including our backpacks

 

Our first campsite by the Centenary Hut. It had been raining most of the night but it looked as though it could clear up for us.
Our first campsite by the Centenary Hut. It had been raining most of the night but it looked as though it could clear up for us.

 

And it did! A beautiful and promising day. Note the Centenary Hut.
And it did! A beautiful and promising day. Note the Centenary Hut.

 

Hesperantha baurii
Hesperantha baurii

 

Climbing up the steep Judges Pass
Climbing up the steep Judges Pass

 

Although it's not a rock pass there's some easy scrambing involved
Although it’s not a rock pass there’s some easy scrambing involved

 

Half the way the pass the mist caught up with us.

 

Fortunately the westerly winds kept the escarpment clear of clouds
Fortunately the westerly winds kept the escarpment clear of clouds

 

Huge anvil shape clouds developing over Natal
Huge anvil shape clouds developing over Natal

 

A classic sunrise from Injisuthi Summit Cave
A classic sunrise from Injisuthi Summit Cave

 

Herbie posing for the camera
Herbie posing for the camera

 

Injisuthi Summit Cave used to be one of the most valued caves in the High Berg. Unfortunately, the Basotho have been keeping it a bit untidy lately.
Injisuthi Summit Cave used to be one of the most valued caves in the High Berg. Unfortunately, the Basotho have been keeping it a bit untidy lately.

 

Sabine enjoying the first beams of light of the day.
Sabine enjoying the first beams of light of the day.

 

Mafadi was our main goal on our third day. Here Herbie starting the ascent shortly after leaving the cave
Mafadi was our main goal on our third day. Here Herbie starting the ascent shortly after leaving the cave

 

And here we go! top of Mafadi, at 3450m the highest point in South Africa
And here we go! top of Mafadi, at 3450m the highest point in South Africa

 

The wind was quite intense that morning. Here we found a perfect spot out of the wind where to recharge our energy levels.
The wind was quite intense that morning. Here we found a perfect spot out of the wind where to recharge our energy levels.
In summer the Basotho bring their animals in the upper reaches of the escarpment: sheep, goats, horses and cows are a common sight.
In summer the Basotho bring their animals in the upper reaches of the escarpment: sheep, goats, horses and cows are a common sight.

 

The Basotho shephers are always accompanied by their loyal dogs

 

Another group of young Basotho shephers. This is the cultural element of any hike in the High Berg
Another group of young Basotho shephers. This is the cultural element of any hike in the High Berg

 

A thin layer of clouds prevented us from seeing the finest views that you can usually enjoy during this hike. Here just before the start of our descent of Leslie's Pass.
A thin layer of clouds prevented us from seeing the finest views that you can usually enjoy during this hike. Here just before the start of our descent of Leslie’s Pass.

 

A few hundred metres afterwards we would be under the clouds and could enjoy maginificent views of the Injisuthi Valley
A few hundred metres afterwards we would be under the clouds and could enjoy maginificent views of the Injisuthi Valley

 

Leslie's Pass is long but not difficult.  You have to take it easy on some sections of loose rocks.
Leslie’s Pass is long but not difficult. You have to take it easy on some sections of loose rocks.

 

The Injisuthi Valley. Still a long way to the bottom.
The Injisuthi Valley. Still a long way to the bottom.

 

We were dwarfed by the basalt faces above us
We were dwarfed by the basalt faces above us

 

The top of the pass was visible at times.
The top of the pass was visible at times.

 

At the bottom of the pass there's a great camping spot with room for  a few tents.
At the bottom of the pass there’s a great camping spot with room for a few tents.

 

A glorious morning. At last we could enjoy perfect views of the escarpment. Leslie's pass was clearly visible. IT was quite amazing to realise we had walked down there.
A glorious morning. At last we could enjoy perfect views of the escarpment. Leslie’s pass was clearly visible. IT was quite amazing to realise we had walked down there.

 

A dassie, also known as rock rabbit, but nothing to do with a rabbit
A dassie, also known as rock rabbit, but nothing to do with a rabbit

 

Marble baths is one of the most  popular spots in the Injisuthi area. Luckily was in our way.
Marble baths is one of the most popular spots in the Injisuthi area. Luckily was in our way.

 

The water has carved beautiful water slides in the Clarens Sandstone
The water has carved beautiful water slides in the Clarens Sandstone

 

A real treat after all the hard work of the previous days
A real treat after all the hard work of the previous days

 

Miss Drakensberg
Miss Drakensberg

Carlos Gonzalez

Life has been good since his arrival in South Africa. It was September 2005 and he fell in love with the country straightaway. Places like the Drakensberg, Wild Coast and the Midlands provide all the inspiration he needs. After the taste of freedom, working in an office again was out of the question. He has since qualified as a nature and mountain guide, and as his friends joke, embarked on a serious love affair... with the Drakensberg, where he spends most weekends.

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