The Drakensberg is a spectacular mountain escarpment in the heart of South Africa. Also known by the Zulus as uKhahlamba, The Barrier of Spears, it includes vast cliffs, jagged ridge lines and endless pinnacles. Expect Incredible weather conditions and awe inspiring scenery every day from this World Heritage site, which offers prime photographic locations that remain completely off the beaten track.
In the mornings mist swirls around the valleys below with the bark of baboons echoing off basalt cliffs. Cape Vultures, Lammergeier and black eagles soar overhead. In the afternoon thunderstorms crash around the mountains often bringing dramatic lighting conditions. During this 6 day partially portered trip we will backpack along the top of the escarpment staying at altitudes over 3000m. This is the ultimate trip for the backpacking photographer.
Alex is an award winning British landscape photographer, film maker and adventurer. He has done several hikes in the Drakensberg with the owner of CapturEarth, Hougaard Malan. We assisted him in planning these trips and are happy to be able to offer his guided and portered backpacking trip to our clients. The Drakensberg is one of the world's last remaining easily accessible and truly majestic landscapes that are pretty much undocumented.
Fitness and Experience
At this altitude the oxygen levels are only 70% of what you might be used to at sea level, but the distances we are covering are not significant. We will contour the hills as much as possible to avoid significant elevation changes. The group will have the use of 5 porters, each of whom can carry 8kg. Based on this you can anticipate your backpack weighing around 16kg at the start of the trip and 10kg once you have eaten all your food. You do not need prior backpacking experience to come on this trip however you should be walking fit and free from injury. On the final day we will descend over 1000m down Rockeries Pass, so this will be a long day.
It is very likely that we will be hiking in unbroken sunshine so sun protection is essential. You should dress for warm days (up to 20 Celsius), heavy rain showers and much cooler mornings/ evenings where it can get into single figures. We can provide high end lightweight camping equipment perfectly suited for the trip at no extra charge. This includes Terra Nova Ultra Quasar tents, Rab Neutrino 400 sleeping bags and NeoAir Xtherm sleeping mats. If however you would prefer to use your own sleeping kit, or bring your own mountain tent then you are welcome to. A full equipment list will be sent out at a later date.
*Please contact [email protected] for a detailed packing list.
At either end of the trip we will be staying in basic accommodation first at Wisieshoek (a simple hotel) and secondly at the Mweni Cultural Centre (traditional Rondavels). Otherwise we will be camping every night in mountain tents.
The cliffs in the Drakensberg have deadly drops. If you are afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo, this trip is not suitable for you. You will be expected to follow Alex's instruction as to what is regarded an acceptable distance to the edge. On the first day of the hike we will use the 'Chain Ladders' to reach the top. These are 20 meter steel ladders attached to the cliff, no safety equipment is provided.
This page offers brief and condensed information on this tour. Please download the detailed PDF itinerary by clicking the blue download button to the right of this page.