Drakensberg

The debate over tarring one of South Africa’s most renowned strips of dirt is proving to create quite a stir as various stakeholders continue to share their feelings and opinions on the matter.

In most hikers’ opinions, this is the most spectacular and enjoyable pass in the Mnweni area and even the entire Drakensberg. Navigation in the pass itself is relatively easy despite the lack of a path and this lets you rather admire the awesome pinnacles, towering buttresses and the never-ending view of the Mnweni little berg stretching beneath you. This pass is a definite must for any hiker who ever gets a chance to explore the area.

At long last, and after almost a year of building anticipation, I encountered the "Dragon Mountains" this past January, after arriving in South Africa for two reasons:  to live with the love of my life, and to meet his second (I hope) greatest love, the Berg.  Beyond being fitting, it was simply understood that one day I would climb into the high treeless peaks with this man who introduced me to the Drakensberg through his thriving love of this range. 

This is a pass which suits the Mnweni area perfectly. Great views of the spires that jut out below the Mbundini Buttress, tricky route finding due to the absence of a path and a tough climb overall. It summits near the top of Stimela Peak with one of the best views of the Mnweni Cutback below you.

Critically injured after crashing into the mountains while paragliding on Monday, 25 January, 2010, a man was airlifted to Pietermaritzberg’s Medi Clinic, where he remains in a serious condition.

This is most probably the most difficult non-rock pass in the Drakensberg range. A very long river section, which involves boulder-hopping and bush-whacking, is followed by some incredibly steep and sustained grassy slopes in the upper reaches of the pass. It is not frequently used and the spectacular views are not much of a compensation for the frustrating river section.

Ifidi and Icidi passes are infamous for being two of the most difficult passes that the Berg has to offer. Don't let this put you off though. With enough experience and fitness, Ifidi is one of the most satisfying Berg passes to tackle with 400 vertical metres of a narrow rock gully to negotiate before topping out on the slopes of Thaba Ndanyazana.

On her second attempt at the Grand Traverse record, completed on Sunday the 10th of Januray, 2010, Christine Harris established a new womans speed record.

A new Grand Traverse speed record of 61 hours, 24 minutes and 11 seconds, was set by Andrew Porter on 18 December, 2009.

I have been hiking in the Berg for some years and it has always irritated me that “people in the know” keep the location of rock art a secret. After all these paintings are part of our National Heritage and why should we all not be able to view them. I always saw this practice as akin to a piece of stolen art residing in someone’s basement and only them being able to view it rather than the greater public at large.

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