A recent trip to the Giants Castle area was rewarded with fantastic game viewing, but dampened by the sad sight of the Giant's Hut without a roof and in a terrible state of disrepair.

Game sightings included Oribi (classified as "Critically Endangered" in the SANBI Red Data Book), Eland, Blesbok (possibly moved up from Highmoor), and Mountain Reedbuck (as well as the ever present Chacma Baboon). Birds spotted along the route included "Vulnerable" Bald Ibis, "Endangered" Bearded Vulture and Cape Vulture, amoung other birds.

 The route we took was up Oribi Ridge, past the hut, to inspect the damage, down the middle ridge back to the Main Caves. Giant's Hut was a great stop over for those hikers wanting to take an easy first day to the hut, and then on to the top of the Giant, or for a few walks in the area around the hut. The view from the hut have always inspired many, and when you see the view through the new "skylight" it is plain to understand why. Easy options from the hut include the eastern ridge (as daunting as it may seem...), Giant's pass, or a traverse across to Bannerman Hut (along the contour path).

**These images will be republished soon  - please bear with us**

   
 The hut as it currently looks

 The hut, as can be seen from the pictures, has been burnt again recently, subsequent to the initial fire (the first fire was about 2 years ago) which destroyed the roof.  The damage includes the windows (the frames are still in place, but no glass exists anymore); door frames, now charred remains; sink, which has pulled away from the wall; and a blackened toilet, complete with melted seat... It appears that some hikers or Basotho have recently taken refuge there, although they left most of their rubbish behind, not sticking to the hikers credo.

The theories of how the hut burnt down abound, ranging from a lack of firebreak management around the hut, to the Basotho burning it down intentionally. Whatever the case is, the hut currently is not much of a shelter from a downpour - or wind for that matter, since there is much broken glass in corners where one could shelter from wind.

Evidence of Basothos using the hut are minimal, and even the contour path seems to indicate only animal use for the most part. The old jeep track (from Gaints to Highmoor) is in the process of being rehabilitated, and will probably take some time to be integrated back into the landscape. The contour path, and the path up Oribi Ridge past the old Vulture Hide, still remains a clear scar on the landscape. It does seem that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are working at rehabilitating the track and the contour path where erosion has been creating havoc. Basotho use now seems to be more on the south side of the Giant, and on Bannerman Pass. Evidence suggests that Jarateng is a well used alternative to Langalibelele now also, but we never got close enough to investigate further on this trip.

The way forward appears to be that the hut will either be destroyed, or fixed up. The purpose of this article is perhaps theoretical, or historical. We would like to generate some discussion around the hut, and for those who have good memories from there to share those. If you have bad memories, please feel free to share those too. We want to know your thoughts!

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Rhinoandhedgehog's Avatar
Rhinoandhedgehog replied to: #71742 19 Jun 2017 09:34
I have some news on this one.

According to a chat I had with a staff member over the weekend. The hut's restoration is "under review". He suggested that I email the manager and motivate as to the restoration.

If you are interested and want to, PM me I will send you the email address of the right person. I walked away believing that this actually might be a possibility.

While I has there this weekend it would not actually take much to restore the old hut to its former glory. And am sure it will be well used like Bannerman Hut down the road.
Smurfatefrog's Avatar
Smurfatefrog replied to: #63008 15 Mar 2015 18:46
From the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RebuildingGiantsHut?fref=nf

Hi all. It is with great dissapointment, I have to let you know that the insurance claim on the hut was rejected. The roof blew off before the job was fully signed off and completed. Does anyone out there have capacity to take the lead on this project to get this started again? Please contact me if you do. Thanks so much! Rob Harley

JonWells's Avatar
JonWells replied to: #62907 26 Feb 2015 13:40
It is indeed a pity, looks like its been like that since Aug 2013.

Here is the previous thread about it: www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/8-drakensberg-hiking/130-giants-hut.html?start=10
elinda's Avatar
elinda replied to: #62906 26 Feb 2015 13:21
We did a hike in the Giants Castle area last weekend, going up Oribi Ridge and on to the contour path and passing Giants Hut on the way. The hut is derelict with half the roof tiles blown off, open to the elements and debris scattered all around. The inside is a mess with insulation from the roof hanging in tatters and the old iron bunk beds rusted and upended. The roof trusses still look ok for now but will rot if nothing further is done. Such a sad sight to see and I remember many happy evening spent in this hut. I am not sure but seem to think that the MCSA had an initiative a little while back to repair and rebuild the hut and they had several work parties going up there on weekends to do the work. It would seem that the Berg winds have made short work of their sterling efforts. I am wondering though whether there are any plans afoot to either repair the damage or at the very least to remove the unsightly debris and clean up the site ?









ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #61278 10 Jul 2014 16:43
Refer to my post above.

The hut burnt down years ago. The roof was rebuilt by a combined effort of a few hiking clubs, but the roof was re-removed by a strong wind. I haven't heard of any new developments since.

Perhaps in winter the walls would make a useful wind shield, but with bits of loose roof I wouldn't camp within 200m of it.

I don't rate its a particularly useful hut - unless you are climbing the cliffs, its far from the nearest pass - and Giant's Pass has at least 5 usable caves half way up, and a small cave at the top.
hartmrol's Avatar
hartmrol replied to: #61277 10 Jul 2014 16:37
Hi - does anyone know whether this hut is habitable. I had heard that it burnt down recently and will not be rebuilt?

Regards
Rolf
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #58554 22 Sep 2013 17:44
Taken earlier today:








There were bits of roof more than 100m from the actual building.
Viking's Avatar
Viking replied to: #58535 19 Sep 2013 10:52
With the roof. I'm in the roofing industry.

Actually, I have his number. I'll call him.
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #58534 19 Sep 2013 10:50
@Viking: what do you mean by help?

To adjust for this I have just flipped my hike backward - going up Jarding Pass down Giants with Jarding Cave and Giants Cave as overnight spots. If it doesn't have a roof it won't be great if the forecast of rain is right...
Viking's Avatar
Viking replied to: #58533 19 Sep 2013 10:41
Ghaz,

Give me his email. I might be able to help.
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #58532 19 Sep 2013 10:06
Just got an email from Matt Jackson at KZN Wildlife:

Hi Jonathan

I was asked by _______ _______ to give you an update on Giant's Hut.

About 4 weeks ago the roofing tiles were ripped off during excessively high winds.

Currently , and in the for seeable future Giant's Hut will not be habiitable.

Kind regards

Matt

ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #58486 15 Sep 2013 19:34
That looks great - definitely within my definition of usable :thumbsup:
Smurfatefrog's Avatar
Smurfatefrog replied to: #58485 15 Sep 2013 19:10
Yup, here's some pics from last month www.bergfree.co.za/186/186.htm
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #58484 15 Sep 2013 18:47
I wonder if I could disassemble a carbon fibre frame nice and small and carry that up - not sure about on my head though :lol:

So people have been staying there? Great, thanks :thumbsup:
Smurfatefrog's Avatar
Smurfatefrog replied to: #58483 15 Sep 2013 18:36
Not sure about the current status but they seem to be allowing people to stay there. Offer to carry a bed up on your head ;)
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #58482 15 Sep 2013 16:22
Anyone know the current status of Giant's Hut? Also, is there any rule stopping people from staying there before it is ready for general use? If it has a roof and walls its probably good enough to use IMO - just don't want to offend the guys who are putting all this hard work into fixing it.
Viking's Avatar
Viking replied to: #58009 10 Aug 2013 14:50
I heard the same from Matt recently. However he also indicated that their budget for that sort of thing is stretched fairly thin and that he wasnt sure when they would attend to Meander hut. Interestly I phoned Giants this last week and was told that Giants Hut is not yet ready for occupation. Unfortunate as I think the MBC had a hike scheduled for there and Bannerman Hut this weekend.
Smurfatefrog's Avatar
Smurfatefrog replied to: #57834 28 Jul 2013 18:13
Chatted to Matt Jackson (Giants Castle manager) this weekend, all the equipment for the inside of the hut is ready, just waiting for a helicopter to carry it to the hut.
Meander Hut is next on the repair plan
Smurfatefrog's Avatar
Smurfatefrog replied to: #57425 21 Jun 2013 12:56
Giants Hut looking good B) (stolen from Dave Sclanders / Bergfree)


kliktrak's Avatar
kliktrak replied to: #56260 12 Mar 2013 13:05
Herewith an update for those interested in the Giants Hut Refurbishment...

From James Voortman:

My apologies for incorrect instructions given in my previous email attached below.
To join the e-mail group that has been set up you need to do the following:
1) send a blank email to Giantshut+subscribe@googlegroups.com (This has been tested by a prospective volunteer and it works)
2) The moderator will then approve your membership request
3) to post messages thereafter you use the address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
4) to unsubscribe in future you post a blank message to Giantshut+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com

Regards
James Voortman
President – KZN Section
Mountain Club of South Africa
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
kliktrak's Avatar
kliktrak replied to: #56194 07 Mar 2013 11:00
Giant's Hut refurbishment plans update, as per message received from the Mountain Backpackers Club - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - on 07/03/2013:

Quoting:
>>
The stable weather of April and May offers a good opportunity to carry out the construction phase of this project so we are hoping to carry out construction during the Easter Weekend with a follow-up at end April / early May incorporating Worker’s Day public holiday.

Volunteers :

Volunteers are urgently requested for assistance with the construction activities.

Volunteers should be prepared to hike up to the hut, stay a few days in tents and put in some manual labour.

It will be preferable if you have some construction or DIY experience.
If we do not get enough volunteers, the budget is insufficient to hire a labour force for the work and the project will fail.

Before making a commitment to purchase the materials, Rob needs to be sure of having sufficient volunteers to complete the work. If you wish to volunteer, please read the section on “Communication” below and follow the instructions there.

Progress Report :

Since last year, Rob has put in quite a bit of work. A recce was undertaken to the hut, plans have been drawn and approved and a bill of quantities has been prepared. These will be circulated to those who volunteer to assist (see '”Communication” below).

Scope of Work :

There will be three main areas of work.

1) It is necessary to carry out some masonry repairs to the hut where the walls have been damaged. This must be done in preparation for the anchoring the new roof. We are provisionally planning to do this over the Easter Weekend.
2) Assembly of roof. This is provisionally planned for a weekend at the end of May, possibly incorporating the Worker’s Day holiday.
3) miscellaneous repairs as far as the budget will permit, including possible plumbing, water supply and reglazing with perspex to be carried out during the two work meets referred above.

Materials :

We are liaising with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for delivery of materials and tools to the site but this is not confirmed yet. More information to follow.

Backup plan :

There is a long weekend in June that could be used as a fallback opportunity to complete outstanding work.

Communication :

It is difficult to co-ordinate messages between all the different people and clubs that are involved. To this end, I have created a group mailing list on GoogleGroups. If you wish to volunteer your assistance please send an email containing only the words “subscribe” in the Subject line and without the apostrophes to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I am hoping the GoogleGroups method will work. If anyone has a better idea, please let me know. There is a possibility that some corporate computer networks will restrict messaging to this group. If this happens, please use your private email address to subscribe to the group or email me directly to establish a workaround.

Please consider the following matters of group etiquette :

1) to avoid cluttering the group, consider carefully before posting. Each message will go to all members because I have not restricted posting rights at this stage.
2) delete irrelevant previous messages when you reply – otherwise we end up repeating long strings of messages with each post
3) keep it civil...several organisations involved here...remember we have a common purpose.
4) if you wish to be removed from the group, send an e-mail with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line to the group


Best Regards
James Voortman
President – KZN Section
Mountain Club of South Africa
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Below is the follow up reply from Rob Harley to James Voortman's email:

Hi James,

I have no problem if the hut is worked on over the easter break but at the moment DRA are planning on working on the hut from 21 st March to 24 th March, and we are planning 2 phased trips between the 26 th April and 5 th May. I tried to “subscribe” without success it appeared if the fault came from google . If anybody has manage to get set up please let me know.

Regards,

Rob Harley
>>
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #54699 25 Jul 2012 05:26
This update on the hut has been circulating through the various MCSA updates:

If you are interested in assisting to refurbish Giant’s Hut during a weekend or two in September please reply to me. Dates are not finalised yet so in your reply, please include some dates on which you are available as this will help us to plan. We are thinking mid to late September at this stage.

It will be helpful (but not essential) if you have construction / handyman / DIY experience.

The Story :

The thatched roof on Giant’s Hut caught alight a few years ago and the roof was destroyed. The hut was very popular with hikers. In a private initiative, a Jhb based gentleman by the name of Rob Harley has secured funding for materials to replace the roof with coated steel tiles (Harveytiles) using a design similar to that used for Bannerman’s hut. The windows will likely be reglazed with perspex, as at Bannermans Hut. Ezemvelo and MCSA KZN will assist to arrange transport of the materials to the hut, hopefully by helicopter. Then we will need help with reconstruction as soon as possible after delivery..

This invitation has also been sent to other usergroups such as Mountain Backpackers Club and some other MCSA sections to advertise for volunteers within their own organisations.

Thank you

James Voortman

President KZN Section, MCSA

domsmooth's Avatar
domsmooth replied to: #132 29 Aug 2008 19:30
Intrepid. While you mention that the hut is not in a wilderness area, the world heritage values for which the Berg was granted its status, are wilderness, and the heritage value (for the bushman relics and paintings). In other words, in terms of management, the entire Ukahlamba Drakensberg area is considered a wilderness area. True, there are some areas which are so called "wilderness" areas in which no new man made infrastructure is allowed. The same can be said for the non-wilderness areas though, where any new infrastructure needs approval from not only the management authority, but also the competent authority for Impact assessments, in this case the Dept of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT).

The hut, though, is an existing structure. It existed long before the area was declared, and as such needs no authorisation from DEAT to repair the hut to its former condition.

Steel roofs would be preferable from a fire perspective, since the previous thatch (I think) obviously has too much risk attached from a fire perspective. Furthermore, any water pipes would also be pvc and stand to be burnt in the next fire that moves through. It would be preferable to go for a more sustainable approach to repair the hut. Most who would use the hut, have also camped in a tent, and would be used to walking a little way to fetch water. Furthermore, they would also have used holes in the ground for ablutions. Other options are available for toilets though, although the location of this hut adjacent to the tarn for ablutions and septic tanks are not really considered enviro-friendly.

I agree that the hut is there, and that it should either be removed if it is not to be repaired, since the current status is an eye-sore. The concern is more about how to get a contractor to the site to do the work without impacting on the surrounds, or getting the materials there without an impact on the area. Vehicular access is not an option.

Personally, I hope the hut is repaired. It is perfectly sited for forays around the Giants area.