Who is doing or has done the Grand Traverse

31 May 2019 17:44 - 31 May 2019 17:45 #75041 by wax
This is a very late post but I just wanted to say a huge "THANK YOU" to all the people on this forum. Thanks to the information fond here (Detailed accurate maps ! GPS coordinates of all the caves ! Advice !...) I was able to do a "mini Grand Traverse" (from Sentinel to Sani) from the 13th of April until the 19th of April 2019. It was a great hiking experience and I learned a lot. I also loved the scenery, the caves (Easter Cave was hard to find but really amazing and Injasuthi Summit Cave was also great, once I found the large one), the atmosphere, the interaction with the Basotho herdsmen (managed not to be bitten by their dogs), the joy of finding a trail, the pain of getting sometimes a bit lost ...All in all great memories even if it was difficult for me to hike more than 25km per day. 

To all those attempting this traverse, please do not underestimate the difficulty of it. Doing it alone and un-assisted can be quite a challenge. Take a PLB with you "just in case".
And .... have a great time !

w. 
Last edit: 31 May 2019 17:45 by wax.

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07 Jun 2019 01:36 #75054 by intrepid
Thanks for reporting back wax, its always nice to hear that the site has helped enrich people's experience of the Berg!

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

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18 Jan 2020 14:23 #75607 by supertramp
Delighted to report that our group of 4 successfully completed a South - North GT between 23 Dec - 02 Jan 2020. Having been prevented by injuries from getting to the starting line in 2 previously planned GT's in Feb 2017 and April 2019, it is extremely satisfying to finally have a lifelong dream fulfilled.

Time constraints prevents me from doing a full hike-report at this moment but thought it worthwhile to just share some of the main insights / highlights:

- Our GT went exactly according to plan and it truly is a great feeling to have the months of planning pay-off in the way that it did. 
- We split our hike into 2 sections: Day 1 - 3 from Bushman's Neck to Sani Lodge & Day 4 - 11 to Sentinel Peak Car Park. Our resupplies for the last 8 day stretch was taken up to Sani Lodge by car via Sani Pass 2 days before the start of our hike.
- The weather was absolutely amazing. In my 7 years of hiking in the Berg I have not been blessed with such good weather for such a long period of time. The routine storms built up during the afternoon (as it typically does during summer) but never truly turned into something substantial. An early start to every day allowed us the chance to be selective in our choice of campsites. Making it a routine of assessing the layout of the landscape to find relative solace from lightning and water flows. 
- As someone who does not particularly enjoy waking up early in my normal life, I absolutely loved starting just before the sun rises every day. The changing light and landscapes is truly a sight to behold!!! Makes for longer and more productive days too. I frequently found myself famished by 10AM and being surprised at it – only to realize that it is because we’ve been walking since 5AM :-)

- My biggest insight was to realize how blessed we all are to have the Berg as our playground in SA. The absolute majesty of our mountains almost untouched by civilization & tourism. We did not encounter any other hikers during our 11 day trip. Our main motivation for going to the Berg is to escape the distractions from the outside world. To be free from the stronghold that technology has on us and to just allow our minds to be absorbed in the here-and-now. Something that keeps on eluding me in the everyday life. How liberating!!!! I will adopt a "digital minimalist" approach going forward. 
My wife and I are never ashamed to admit that we experience a bit of social anxiety when meeting too many other hikers / people anywhere on our adventures. Can't help but feel that commercialization takes away some of the raw beauty of an experience.          

- Our most fulfilling moments came from our engagements with the Basotho's. During all our previous Berg hikes, we've tried to keep our encounters with the Basotho's to a minimum - not getting into contact if it can be avoided (yet always being respectful). We consciously decided on a different approach during this hike. We learned some basic Sesotho words and phrases and what a difference it made! We actively seeked out  engagements and could not wait to exchange some words. After the formal greetings the best reaction was always received by saying "ke-lapile" and gesturing with our hands on our stomach, which means " I am hungry". It always resulted in a huge laugh from both sides and lifted the spirits :-)

- From a physical point of view, the most satisfying feeling is the way in which you get stronger after every climb. The amount of intimidation that each ridge posed (standing at its base) just seemed to get less and less every day with dread being replaced by a feeling of excitement of wanting to match the challenge. Maybe it also helped a little getting those large ridges in the South out of the way as early as possible.     

- I really enjoyed the changing scenery of the mountains and landscape as we moved from south to north. Having spent most of my time in the Central and Northern Berg (hardly ever hiking further south than Giants), I was in awe of the Southern Berg. Looking down from the escarpment edge into KZN reflects a more ‘untouched’ feel to it (less settlements and civilization) and makes it just so much more beautiful. We will definitely make a point of exploring the Southern Berg more often in trips to come .  




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The following user(s) said Thank You: firephish, ghaznavid, hikingle, tonymarshall

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18 Jan 2020 14:26 #75608 by supertramp
Some more photos:

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18 Jan 2020 14:27 #75609 by supertramp

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18 Jan 2020 14:30 #75610 by supertramp
Last couple of photos (4/4)

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18 Jan 2020 20:35 #75611 by swordfish
Wow, the colours in your pictures are amazing! Are they edited in anyway? What camera are you using?
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21 Jan 2020 06:56 #75615 by supertramp
Thanks Swordfish! I only did minor contrast editing on Lightroom. The natural colours on this hike were just out of this world.
I use a Samsung S8 smartphone :-) 

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21 Jan 2020 08:23 #75616 by GriffBaker
Lovely photos! Looks almost like film emulsion. 
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22 Jan 2020 21:30 - 22 Jan 2020 21:30 #75624 by intrepid
Well done Supertramp, and some really nice photos in there! I can see several good entries in your photos for the "Escarpment Vistas" photo comp category, which has a prize for the winner. Just saying! B)

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 22 Jan 2020 21:30 by intrepid.

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