One of the most iconic sites in the Drakensberg Mountains
Northern Drakensberg Traverse
Also known as the Mini Traverse, this is probably the most spectacular hike you can do in the Drakensberg. It is considered as one of the world’s best hikes by National Geographic.
- Trip Duration 5 Days/4 Nights
- Activity Level Challenging
- Group Size Medium Group
The high traverse of the northern Drakensberg is one of the most popular hikes on the High Berg as this is arguably the most spectacular section of the whole range. From the beginning to the end this hike is full of memorable views. The descent to the Cathedral Peak Hotel via the Bell Traverse is without a doubt the most remarkable day you can have in these mountains.
At a Glance
Areas: Amphitheatre, Mnweni and Cathedral Peak
Distance: 63 km
Days: 5 days / 4 nights
Grade: 4.5/5 (self-sufficient) – 3.5/5 (portered)
- Day 1 Tugela Falls (6km, 450m, 3.5h)
Meeting point: Our transfer departs from Cathedral Peak Hotel. You can meet us there if you’re self-driving. Alternatively, we can pick you up from your hotel in Winterton.
We will be dropped at Sentinel Car Park from where we will climb to the top of the Amphitheatre. We can do this by the famous chain ladders, but for those afraid of heights, the route up the Beacon Buttress gully is a less daunting option. Once on top, we will stop for a well-deserved lunch at the top of the Tugela Falls. With a total drop of 614 metres this is the world’s fourth highest waterfall. The view that beholds is certainly one of the most spectacular in Southern Africa. With spirits high, we will be ready to leave civilization behind and head out towards Ifidi Pass, where we will pitch our tents for the night.
- Day 2 Madonna & Her Worshippers (13.5km,600m,7h)
For the next two days we will be walking in the Mnweni area: the wildest and most dramatic part of the Drakensberg. We will try to remain as close to the escarpment in order to capture the true magnitude of it. Contrary to what optical illusion may imply, the top of the Drakensberg is not as flat as a table but an undulating sequence of valley and ridges. Three short sharp climbs await us during this day. If time allows we will also visit some of the caves in the area. The well-know mountain feature “Madonna and her Worshipers” is our landmark for our campsite.
- Day 3 Source of Orange River (14.5km, 400m, 6h)
If after the last two days you think it can’t get any better, wait until what lies ahead. We will be hike through an area with rugged, spindly peaks and fascinating rock formations: Mnweni Pinnacles, Hanging Valleys, Twelve Apostles, Mnweni Needles, Mponjwane…it goes on and on. We sleep at Ledger’s Cave – a very apt name which literally hangs off the cliffs. Sleep walkers best be zipped-up tight for this night.
- Day 4 Twins Cave (14.5km, 700m, 7h)
This is our longest and toughest day. Up to four ridges will be summited. But before the hard work begins, we will visit another fine cave nearby: Mponjwane Cave, right behind the standalone peak after which it is named. From here, if the weather is clear, we will catch our first glimpse of the Cathedral Peak Range, at which we will finish our hike. We will be hiking around the Saddle, another prominent feature, before arriving at Mlabonja Pass – our exit point off the escarpment. From here it is a short sharp descent down to Twins Cave.
- Day 5 Cathedral Peak Hotel via Bell Traverse (14.5km, 200m, 8h)
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.
Top of Mlambonja Pass, the start of our long descent home
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
- 180km/3h transfer from Cathedral Peak Hotel (end of hike) to the Sentinel Car Park (start of hike)
- Equipment (gear for hire available)
- Porters (available at R550/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