Drakensberg

The following is essential information for hikers on how to report emergencies and request a rescue in the Drakensberg.

Contact details for the management of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. Details the KZN Wildlife Conservation Managers for the varios regions and areas, who should be contacted in the event of serious injury, death, missing person, criminal threat or any other serious or threatening situation.

You may also contact the respective managers if you have questions and concerns before a trip for issues such as security, fire dangers and trail conditions. Reports and concerns resulting from your trip can also be reported to them.

On 11 September, some 264 runners took part in the annual 54km mountain marathon starting from Royal Natal Nationl Park up to Witsieshoek Resort, on to Sentinel Car Park, up the Chain Ladders to Tugela Falls, descending via Beacon Buttress Gully, and back down all the way.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife would like to draw attention to the fact that conditions in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site are extremely dry and that there is  an extremely high risk of fires. Hikers are advised to contact the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife conservation staff in the area they wish to hike to get relevant information about existing conditions.

An interesting alternative route if you've done the Organ Pipes thing too often. This route is well used by Basothos as can be seen by the eroded path but don't let this keep you away from checking it out. There are some impressive views of the Ndumeni Dome cliffs and the back of the Organ Pipes on offer and it is a very direct route to (or from) the Didima Gorge.

Even though this pass uses the Organ Pipes Pass final gully to access the escarpment, it ascends to the final gully via a completely different ridge, the Camel Ridge. There are spectacular views to be seen on both sides of this ridge as you weave between the peaks as you climb higher. It is marked as difficult/dangerous on the official maps but there should only be a cause for concern in extremely icy conditions.

This is the easiest pass in the Cathedral Peak area and is very convenient to access the escarpment in a short weekend hike. The climb along the ridge gives great views of both the Cathedral and Cathkin ridges and the Old Fire Lookout must be one of the best settings for a hut in the entire Drakensberg. This pass is great to use during your first trip to the escarpment due to its relative ease and easy navigation.

WJ Wybergh and Lt NM McLeod first climbed the Sentinel via the standard route on 29 September 1910.

The KZN section of the mountain club of SA plans to celebrate this ascent on the weekend of the 4-5th September 2010. The idea is for as many people as possible to ascend the Sentinel via any route they wish on the morning of the 4th and then have a celebratory jol at the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge that evening. (We are happy to provide top-ropes on the two pitches on the Standard route so you won’t need a climbing partner for standard route.)

This pass follows a spectacular route up the Tseketseke River and gully alongside the Pyramid and the Column. Even though it has similar route details to Mlambonja Pass (see above), the upper grassy slopes are a lot steeper and make this pass feel as if it belongs in the Mnweni area. The beautiful river section and stunning views near the top make this a classic Drakensberg Pass.

Halfway between the more popular routes of Mlambonja Pass and Organ Pipes Pass lies the Xeni Cutback, a steep river valley with dramatic cliffs towering in all directions. There are two passes which climb up to the escarpment via this cutback. Xeni Pass, however, looks pretty mean and unlike Cockade Pass, probably deserves its "rock" affix. Cockade Pass is one of the most direct routes to the escarpment in the Cathedral Peak area and with its spectacular views and enclosure, one wonders why so few hikers see this secluded part of the Berg.

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