KwaDuma

22 May 2011 23:02 #2941 by TheNJdK
KwaDuma was created by TheNJdK
Hey everyone

I'm planning to hike to KwaDuma in late July. It is the highest peak in the Eastern Cape. I have been trying to research what i can about it, but information on the web is pretty sparse.

Basically my plan is to hike up the Ongeluksnek pass, and then to navigate the 20 or so kms to the peak and then reverse back. From what information i have gained from 1:50K topo maps, and Google earth and the sparse information that exists on the are this hike should not be overly extreme.

Obviously it is The southern Drakensberg, in winter, so will be cold, and naturally i will be prepared for snow and the such like. I am wondering if there is anyone here who can shed some light on anything else i should know, be taking into consideration.

Any advice will be much appreciated

Nick

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23 May 2011 09:39 - 23 May 2011 09:41 #2949 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic KwaDuma
Hi Nick, I've just planned my own trip superficially for KwaDuma, but have never really gotten around to making it happen. My impression is as yours: once you are on the escarpment it is pretty straightforward terrain to get there. You could avoid hiking up to Ongeluksnek, try getting a lift with a taxi or something like that. Where are you leaving your car? If you contact the Masakhala Guesthouse in Matatiele they might be able to help you since they shuttle hikers back and forth for the Mehloding Trail. In my own plans I was considering a drop-off at the top, and a descent via one of the foot passes below KwaDuma, making a circular route back to the road at some point. Consider making provision for water treatment, especially in the foothills since grazing and activity by the locals is quite high in the area. Please let us know how it goes.

Thomas, if you read this, your comments would be welcome here...

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 23 May 2011 09:41 by intrepid.

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23 May 2011 14:22 #2952 by TheNJdK
Replied by TheNJdK on topic KwaDuma
Thanks Intrepid

The plan is to start the hike from either the gates to the ongeluksnek nature reserve, or from the border post, leaving cars at whichever we start from.

Day one will be quite a slog up the pass, even if we do cut off the first 7 kms by getting to the border post, as almost all the uphill would still be to come.

I had planned to come down via one of the many paths below kwa duma, but getting back to the wherever we had started from would be a bit of a mission, which is why i have proposed just going there and back across the top.

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24 Aug 2011 05:31 #3777 by rinus
Replied by rinus on topic KwaDuma
Hi Nick

Did you summit kwaduma in the end? I am also planning on doing it begining of October. If there is any info you can give me, I would appreciate it very, at the moment all I have is a GPS co-ordinate of the peak :)Any info you can think of that might be helpfull would be great, and also wanted to ask, do you have any maps of that area, and if you do, where can I find some?

Rinus

Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

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24 Aug 2011 06:03 #3778 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic KwaDuma
Welcome to the forum rinus!

The government survey maps are very handy. KwaDuma appears on the Dikgaebaneng - 3028AC sheet. In addition you'll need the Thaba Chitja - 3028AD sheet for the Ongeluksnek area. Also, check out the website for Ongeluksnek nature reserve. They have some info on trails in the area, though it probably won't help you a lot. They have a PDF of a poor quality image of a portion of the survey maps with their trails marked on it:
ongeluksnek.com/activities/map-of-trails/

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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24 Aug 2011 08:44 #3783 by thomas
Replied by thomas on topic KwaDuma
Hello,

Compared with much of the KZN Berg, this hike will not be as extreme, as you rightly surmise, neither in altitude nor in ascents.

Thaba Telle is the prominent peak atop Ongeluksnek, might be worth a short climb. Would definitely not leave my cars alone at the top of the pass. Lake Letsie is worth a look too, a small concrete weir has backed up a large part of the valley creating a beautiful vlei and quite shallow lake that is virtually all wade-able, altho one could windsurf on it. Contouring along the escarpment edge at the beginning will be exhausting because it is very up and down so if you look at the link below, for the photo in the gallery called: Top of the Ongeluksnek Pass, you will see the road curving to the right and the big hill in the background. You will find going up a small valley around this hill easier than just going up its slopes (and going back down again). There are small hills and winding valleys, just follow your map to gain south. You must carry a map or get lost. (I might recommend getting a copy of the Journal of the Mtn Club of SA, 1991 - the Centenary Edition - for an article written on a hike in this area. The MCSA does not post its journals online for proprietary reasons so you will need a hard copy. Someone on this forum could scan it for you and email it?)

ongeluksnek.com/about/gallery/

The peak called Drakens Rock (2726m) is further on where the escarpment takes a turn inwards towards Lesotho. Is this the namesake of the entire Berg and if so, why has it languished in obscurity? kwaDuma (3019m) is the high peak and on the watershed that sits above a small plateau that juts into RSA, but you will first have to go down to a picturesque pass (dont have my maps here so forgot the name - Dikgaebaneng Pass?). A higher peak on this map is Taleoe (3023m) but entirely in Lesotho.

In the colonial days the British built border posts (such as atop Dik. Pass and Pack Ox Nek) to, among other things, contain East Coast Fever (theileriosis) from reaching Basutoland. The ruins are still there, freezing and thawing in spendid repose, falling apart one sandstone block at a time. I slept in one once to escape the howling winter Berg winds. There are also remnants of wire border fences, although the herd boys have used many iron posts as roofing beams for their huts. The first time I tripped over one of these fences (in the Drakensberg?) I swore at the unexpectedness of it. It is also easier to find herdboy kraals and huts and sleeping in a hut is very snug when the winds howl.

I might suggest just walking off the Berg at kwaDuma, going thru the settlements and linking up with the Matatiele - Mt. Fletcher Road. It is actually well trafficked enough to hitch a ride back since being paved, and you will certainly find a taxi van. Get an early start from the top.

When I think back to a winter hike in this area, totally devoid of tourism and as remote and isolated as one can get in the High Berg, with beauty more subtle than spectacular, I think back with complete pleasure. I am the type of person who would rather have a Lesotho waterfall to myself, and I know of some very impressive ones, than share Victoria Falls with the masses. In KZN one has to avoid moegoes who need rescuing, marathons and "challenges", hotel lights, 4x4s and bells and whistles (NO GPS points!) which continue to erode pieces of the Berg year by year to the detriment of the mountain "experience" many of us still seek and value. It will be you, the herdboys and nature and so be it. Bon Chance.
The following user(s) said Thank You: intrepid

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24 Aug 2011 09:51 #3785 by rinus
Replied by rinus on topic KwaDuma
Hi Thomas

Thanks a lot for all the info, really helpful, and I agree also rather enjoy something more when there's not lots of people around.

I think our plan would be to drive up the pass, but we will have someone who will drive the bakkie but not climb with us, because it seems like that would be the best logistically speaking.

If anyone could scan the maps, that would be really awesome as at the moment I don't have anything on it.

You can mail it to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rinus

Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

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25 Aug 2011 05:49 #3795 by rinus
Replied by rinus on topic KwaDuma
Hi Thomas

When driving the ongeluksnek pass, do you go all the way into Lesotho, would I need to bring my passport? And I presume the hike starts at the top of the nek? And then you say that walking off the berg just going through the settlements and linking up with the road between Matatiele - Mt. Fletcher, would that be the easiest, or would the easiest not be to just walk back to the pass nek and get our lift from there seeing we would have someone driving our car for us to drop off and pick up?

Thanks
Rinus

Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

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25 Aug 2011 09:21 #3796 by thomas
Replied by thomas on topic KwaDuma
There has never been a border post for Lesotho here, may be one now, not sure. Bring passport though in case the off chance of meeting anyone official. It is 10km to the Lake from the nek top. Any of the side valleys going left before the Lake will get you going but it is a bit confusing to know which are more direct without a map. Bring a topo and you will see what I mean. Yes, if someone can pick you up at the nek top it would be best to return back that way again. He could meet you at the Lake if you came back a slightly different and more interior route than along the watershed. The lake is worth seeing as it is the only one on the Drakensberg. Attached is a photo of a piece of it.

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25 Aug 2011 10:04 #3797 by rinus
Replied by rinus on topic KwaDuma
Hi Intrepid

Don't know if this is a dumb question, but where can I get hold of those two government survey maps you specified (3028AC, 3028AD)?

Thanks
Rinus

Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

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