Drakensberg

"Wilderness is like the Tao; it is the Way of no way… " Quote by Meridy Pfotenhauer, September 2016

Meridy Pfotenhauer passed away peacefully in Pietermaritzburg, on 4 September 2017, at the age of 67. Her life was dedicated to the Drakensberg mountains – a World Heritage Site of mountain wilderness, magnificent scenery, sparkling rivers, fascinating Bushmen rock art, and local communities who were mentors and friends.

More of Mnweni on Milliot’s Trail

Milliot was a local prophet who lived in the Mnweni in the early 20th century. He was well-known in the area and is still spoken of today. He spent much of his life living in caves and wandered around the Manzana area and surrounds. Manzana is one of the three AmaNgwane wards which together comprise what many hikers simply call "the Mnweni". The commonly hiked trails are in the Mabhulesini and Khokwana areas, and Manzana sees very few visitors.

In climbing parlance the rewards of the summit assault and final steps ‘into thin air’ are mentally satisfying and hopefully visually pleasing, moreover if the climb is a first ascent and establishes itself in august written testimony. Consider this pioneering triumph after a long slog through unknown territory:

Strange echoes were heard in April 1836 as two devout French missionaries . . . . T. Arbousset and F. Daumas stood at the edge of the [Drakensberg] Escarpment and looked down in utter amazement as they watched the waters of the Tugela crashing down to the gorge below. Realizing the geographic importance of the mountain, they named it Mont-aux-Sources. (Dodds, 1975, p 20)

The X-Berg challenge is a fresh concept developed by Pierre Carter. It is a race that traverses the Drakensberg from the top of Oliviershoek Pass, through to Underberg, with six checkpoints along the way. A twist is that you can either go on foot, use a bicycle or a paraglider. Once you chose your means of transport, you are stuck with that for the rest of the race. It is a simple trade-off of going for a lightweight run, or taking the extra weight up the hills to go faster down them.

Our name for our mountains, and the culture of our communities who live in the valleys, is Amagug’esizwe (Treasure of the Nation). The mountains of the AmaZizi and the AmaNgwane lie between the two sections of the Maloti-Drakensberg World Heritage Site. One day we hope that our mountains  can also be a world heritage site – A Living Cultural World Heritage Site. We have done a lot of work to help identify a Community Nature Reserve with a wilderness area. Our name for wilderness is ihlane .Now a cableway is being proposed for the AmaZizi Busingatha Valley. This is in the middle of the AmaZizi wilderness. Our traditional AmaZizi leadership and its people are much disturbed.

The idea of a cable car in the Drakensberg is not new. It has however recently received fresh impetus and media attention. Various locations for the project have been considered, in particular the Mnweni area situated in the Northern Drakensberg. As a group of concerned people who are very familiar with the Mnweni, and who cumulatively have been exploring the Drakensberg for many decades, we are concerned that this project will become a white elephant should it go ahead. We believe the idea is particularly unsuited to the Mnweni and that it is neither sustainable nor desirable in the Berg as a whole.

In Bill Barnes book “Giants Castle: A personal history” he described an obvious pass between Langalibalele Pass and Bannerman Pass which was used by Chief Langalibalele to move stolen cattle into Lesotho. At the time of the rebellion, the pass now known as Langalibalele Pass was called Bushman’s River Pass and this “obvious” pass was known as Langalibalele Pass. Based on the description it seems that this “obvious” pass was one or both of the Hlubi Passes. Based on Barnes describing a large cave on the pass it would appear that he was referring to the north gully, but could easily have been referring to either gully.

In September 2012 a group of 3 hikers decided to explore a possible route up the slopes of Gypaetus Point at Giant's Castle. The goal: a non-rock pass alternative to Bannerman Pass. The result was a non-rock pass that is very steep but incredibly scenic - well worth the effort.

The term "Langalibalele Pass" was originally a reference to a pass used by the Hlubi people led by Chief Langalibalele. The route was mainly used for cattle theft, but after Langalibalele's Rebelion ended in 1873, this pass fell into disuse. The name "Langalibalele Pass" was then appropriated to the "Bushman's River" Pass. The original Langalibalele Pass is still usable and is now known as "Hlubi" Pass.

This pass is definitely one of the easiest routes to the escarpment. It tops out between the Sanqebethu and Durnford ridges. With a good path along the entire route and no overly steep sections, its a good route for newbies.

For immediate release: Legal Action to be instituted against those responsible…

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo), an authority responsible for the management of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, has distanced itself from the recently erected via ferrata route across the face of Beacon Buttress within the Royal Natal Management Unit of the Ukhahlamba Drankensberg Park World Heritage Site.

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