The three hikers Mr Andrew McAughey (44), Mr Tom McAughey (66) and Mr Paul Neame (42) had undertaken a hike from The Sentinel car park at Royal Natal National Park to Cathedral Peak and were delayed by bad weather.
They managed to inform the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff at Cathedral Peak that they would be delayed by a day but on descending towards Didima Resort, they found that two flooding rivers barred their route.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff at Cathedral Peak hiked up the mountain to a point as close as possible to the stranded hikers to try to get additional food to them but were unable to assist them due to the two swollen rivers that lay between the two parties (the Tsetseke, Xeni stream and Mlambojwa rivers).
Members of the Mountain Club of South Africa Mountain Rescue team joined the Ezemvelo KZN Wildife rangers and after evaluating the situation the decision was taken to take advantage of a break in the weather to get the stranded hikers out by helicopter.
A locally based helicopter from Dragon Peaks flown by Mr Brett Tungay was able to fly in and airlift the three men safely to Didima Resort.
The positive outcome of this incident serves to underline the vital necessity of fully and legibly filling in the Mountain Rescue Registers or hiking registers which then enable rescuers to act promptly and efficiently in case of an emergency.
It also emphasises the unpredictable nature of the Drakensberg and the wisdom of taking extra food in case of delay.
AJG/ News Item No: 2011 - 01 - 05(2)