Access roads to the Drakensberg

19 Jan 2015 20:56 - 11 Dec 2018 00:23 #62650 by Smurfatefrog
Sentinel Car Park
Altitude: 2540m
Last 8km are untarred road (from Witsieshoek), of this about 2km are paved and 6km dirt
High clearance recommended but not essential
Dedicated discussion thread for this road

Royal Natal (036) 438 6310
Altitude: 1600m
Good tar road with the odd pothole.
45km from Bergville

Mnweni Cultural Centre 072 275 0579
Altitude: 1280m
17km dirt road
35km from Bergville

Didima / Cathedral Peak Hotel (036) 488 8000
Altitude: 1400m / 1460m
Good tar road with the odd pothole.
45km from Winterton

Monks Cowl (036) 468 1103
Altitude: 1480m
Good tar road with the odd pothole.
33km from Winterton

Injisuthi (036) 431 9000
Altitude: 1450m
The last 5km to the gate are dirt. Half of that is decent dirt road, the other half is rather rough but should be manageable by all cars at a reasonable speed.
30km from Loskop

Giants Castle (036) 353 3718
Altitude: 1750m
Update 12 Mar 2018: the last 12km has been newly tarred and is in good condition.
Gate to the camp is 7km tarred, in good condition
Can be accessed from either Loskop, Mooi River (66km) or Nottingham Road, all are tarred with some very bad sections with potholes

Highmoor (033) 267 7240
Altitude: 1990m
42km from Rosetta (50km from Nottingham Road), of which 30km decent tar road with quite a few potholes, 8km good dirt road, and the last 4km from the gate to the camp is good tar road with the odd pothole.

Kamberg (033) 267 7251
Altitude: 1750m
The last 10km are decent dirt road
45km from Nottingham Road

Lotheni (033) 702 0540
Altitude: 1560m
46km of dirt road
76km from Nottingham Road

Mkhomazi (033) 266 6444
Altitude: 1570m
12km dirt road, accessed from Lotheni road. Dirt road has a few bad patches but is fine for all cars if driving slowly.
43km from Nottingham Road

Vergelegen (033) 702 0712
Altitude: 1520m
Partial dirt road, bad in sections. High clearance vehicle recommended for islands in the middle of the road.
35km from Himeville

Cobham (033) 702 0831
Altitude: 1640m
13km good dirt road from Himeville

Garden Castle (033) 701 1823
Altitude: 1830m
Good tar road the whole way.
Accessed through Drakensberg Gardens
33km from Underberg

Bushmans Nek (033) 701 1823
Altitude: 1760m
32km good dirt road.
You can cut 5km dirt road off by taking the turnoff 10km further from Underberg
38km from Underberg

Other roads
Sani Pass

R74 - Sterkfontein road


Please post any missing info or corrections and I'll keep this post updated
Last edit: 11 Dec 2018 00:23 by intrepid. Reason: Added link to dedicated thread for Sentinel Car Park road

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19 Jan 2015 21:40 #62651 by Dillon
Highmoor is about 45km from Rosetta. It's 30km of decent tar (couple potholes) to the turnoff at Glengarry, from there it's about 10km of good dirt road until the entrance to Highmoor. The last 5km or so up the hill to Highmoor are tar and concrete strips on a particularly steep section.

I haven't been to Lotheni since the mid '90s but I just remember it being a long, long dirt road.

My Corsa bakkie made it comfortably to Vergelegen in June 2008, but it was a bit sketchy in places. Others in our group were in an old Corolla and also handled the tricky bits ok. I've heard it has since deteriorated. I imagine a high clearance vehicle is recommended now.

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous."
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20 Jan 2015 14:14 #62663 by intrepid
Great initiative, thanks. Have made this thread sticky.

High clearance definitely recommended for Vergelegen, but a normal car can still make it through (I wouldn't like to do that though). A lot of the problems have to do with a high island in the middle of the road.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
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08 Jun 2015 15:38 - 08 Jun 2015 15:40 #64170 by HFc
Replied by HFc on topic Access roads to the Drakensberg
I recall reporting on the Sentinel Car Park access road a year ago. I felt optimistic at the time that they are actually progressing, slowly but surely with the paving, and that the general road condition was fair with only the first kilometer being very poor. I did comment that their estimate of 'end of the year completed (2014)' was laughable, but thought that they might get this done by end 2015.

How things have gone backwards in a year (or 11 months to be exact since I last climbed Mt Amery, accessing via this road).

12 months ago (measured beginning of June 2014 during family holiday) they had 1.1km's of paving done. Now 1.8km's of paving. 700m in a full year.....5500m remaining (or at this pace, well... do the maths...)

The slow rate of paving is one thing, and something that has not bothered me at all if the rest of the road is at least graded (filled-graded) periodically.

But the rest of the road's condition is now absolutely atrocious. Using the same vehicle as last year, a sedan with decent ground clearance, we now barely made it without damage. Last year it required taking it slowly in only a couple of places.

My general perception on this project has made a complete 180 now. This is going nowhere, in fact it is going backwards, paving laid a year ago already shows signs of damage (It is a harsh environment, so I have some sympathy for the contractor, but zooming out from their particular performance to the performance of the project as a whole this one is not looking good).

:thumbsdown:
Last edit: 08 Jun 2015 15:40 by HFc.
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08 Jun 2015 15:44 #64171 by diverian
Do they still charge a "toll fee" for driving on it ?

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08 Jun 2015 16:04 - 08 Jun 2015 16:06 #64172 by intrepid
Development creates the need for more development. I generally accept the historical infrastructure in the Berg (roads, huts, hotels) - most of which where built in an era where we didnt understand the need to conserve as we do now - and when resources where more plentiful. But it never stops - there is always a need for upgrades, additions and extensions. This is the danger, and the balance which has to be carefully worked out. We all benefit from Sentinel Car Park, and from Sani Pass - but now we have to upgrade them, and even build more infrastructure - where does it all end?

The Drakensberg, declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, is a beautiful, rugged mountain environment with a unique, fragile ecology. These attributes attract those who are keen to explore its natural wonders. It also attracts developers whose intentions, unfortunately, are often focused on self-enrichment at the expense of the environment. It has today become a matter of finding the correct balance between the two objectives. Considerable success has been achieved towards this goal through the creation of development nodes and acceptable policies determined by provincial government and conservation agencies.

But for conservation there's a lot more than can be done!


John Hone, Encounters With The Dragon

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 08 Jun 2015 16:06 by intrepid.
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08 Jun 2015 16:50 - 08 Jun 2015 16:52 #64173 by HFc
Replied by HFc on topic Access roads to the Drakensberg
Ja, that balance. Very true words.

From my side: Hindsight is off course a wonderful and handy thing, yet unfair to exercise perhaps, but I do wish they rather left the Sentinel road as it was: maintained as a C-gravel road. I recall driving up there with a 1-series BMW back in 2006, taking care along the way as the car was not blessed with decent ground clearance, but it managed. Right now there is NO WAY such a car will get even 200 meters from the (Witsieshoek/Sentinel) fork up the road.

@ Diverian, yes they do charge, R30 per person, it however includes the good road pass towards Witsieshoek, so perhaps justifiable to some extent (I'd say R10 per person would be OK). It may deter the graffiti artists a bit....

Off topic a bit, but we did enjoy a great Sunday lunch at Witsieshoek. The place is really starting to look up now.
Last edit: 08 Jun 2015 16:52 by HFc.
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08 Jun 2015 20:00 - 08 Jun 2015 20:11 #64177 by Captain


Personally, I'd rather the road was left in a poor state. I'm all for development where necessary but sometimes development just creates other problems. I overnighted up there about a month ago and when I came back down on the Sunday, was greeted by an almighty party happening in the car park. The sleeping quarters were being used as a kitchen to prepare braai meat. There were lots and I mean lots of beer cans and bottles strewn all over. People were drinking and chucking beer cans and bottles over the fence and the same were being discarded along the trail.

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Last edit: 08 Jun 2015 20:11 by Captain.

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08 Jun 2015 21:59 #64182 by AndrewP
One good bit of news for the paving on the Sentinel road is that they are about to pave the "upper crux". That steep bend near the upper end of the road that always used to be the really tricky bit.

They have also put in some promising work on drainage, both on the 2 sides of the road, and also by putting in ditches for the water to flow from inner side to outer side. These ditches though need you to slow down!

And, in some fairness to them, they can not and do not do work in the wetter summer months.

The bottom section, especially the first proper bend after the Witsieshoek turnoff has gotten really bad. I slowed right down in my Subaru Forrester to avoid hitting rocks. It is possible to drive down in a Honda Jazz at night but I was a passenger and was more asleep than awake at the time, so cannot provide the juicy details. Except that we did drive into one of the side ditches to dodge a rock and spent an hour jacking up the wheel and throwing rocks under it to escape.

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09 Jun 2015 06:26 #64183 by saros
I was in Lotheni last year April, driving my NP200 on the dirt road was long and tedious. Was around a 2 hour drive at 20km/h MAX!! So the return drive after doing the EAGLE ROCK hike and losing the path after the forest and then finding it again down the hill abit, was in no mood for the tedious drive back to Garden Castle...

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