a long 7km pass, this Berg Pass unusually follows a ridge for most of the time
Cathedral Peak Circuit
This 3-day hike must rank high among the best hikes in the world. Dramatic views, spear-like peaks, precarious rock traverses, fascinating caves…
- Trip Duration 3 Days/2 Nights
- Activity Level Challenging
- Group Size Medium Group
This 3-day hike must rank high among the best hikes in the world. Dramatic views, spear-like peaks, precarious rock traverses, fascinating caves…On the last day it is possible to descend via the Bell Traverse. This is the ultimate hiking experience in the Drakensberg. However, it is not for the faint-hearted but for the very experienced hiker with a head for heights. For those not keen on heights, there’s an alternative more direct route down via the Mlambonja Pass.
At a Glance
Area: Cathedral Peak
Distance: 42 km
Days: 3 days / 2 nights
Grade: 4.5/5 (self-sufficient) – 3.5/5 (portered)
- Day 1 Organ Pipes Pass (14km, 1600m, 8-9h)
Meeting point: Our hike starts and ends at the Cathedral Peak Hotel. You can meet us there if you’re self-driving. Alternatively, we can pick you up from your hotel in Winterton.
The hike starts at the bottom of Mike’s Pass. 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.
- Day 2 Twins Cave (14km, 550m, 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. Tenting by the Kwakwatsi river is also possible.
- Day 3 Cathedral Peak Hotel (via the Bell Traverse or Mlambonja Pass)
Via the Bell Traverse (15km, 200m, 8-9h) – Head for heights essential!
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.
Via Mlambonja Pass (13km, 300m, 7-8h)
For those not so happy with precarious paths and sketchy traverses, the Mlambonja Pass is a good alternative. It’s a more direct route and like any Berg pass is long and steep and yes, very spectacular too. It’s just 3km to the bottom of the pass but it takes from 3 to 5 hours to complete. At the bottom of the pass, there is a perfect lunch spot by the river. A swim or just soaking your feet in the cold water will make you feel like a million bucks again. The following 10km to the Cathedral Peak hotel are on much easier terrain although the final descent via One Tree Hill will put your legs to work again.
Halfway through day 2
The cost of the hike depends on the number of participants in the group:
|No Participants||Price (PP)|
- Professional mountain guide
- All the food during the hike
- Hiking permits
- Equipment (gear for hire available)
- Porters (available at R450/day per porter)
- transportation from/to the meeting point
You can either book your private tour on the dates of your choice or join one of our open scheduled hikes. If those dates do not suit you, let us know and we will schedule the hike on the dates of your choice