Berg Alert 2018

10 Jan 2018 20:26 #72617 by intrepid
Berg Alert 2018 was created by intrepid
This is the place for all updates, incidents and observations relating to security issues in the Drakensberg in 2018.

The kind of thing which should be reported here:
* new incidents of theft, mugging or any kind of verbal or physical intimidation (whether it is experienced first-hand, seen in the media, or heard through the grape vine)
* new observations of the activities of shepherds, smugglers and other parties, especially as it concerns the safety of hikers and climbers.
* any other snippet of information or comment about the current state of affairs relating to security.

The purpose of this thread is to maintain a true picture of what is happening in the Berg currently, to keep a concerned Berg community informed, and to create a healthy awareness of security issues which will help others avoid problems. It is not the intention to create a media hype or undue negative publicity for the Berg, nor to harm tourism in the area, and definitely not to create prejudice against the Basotho and other locals living there.

Historical threads:
* Berg Alert 2010
* Berg Alert 2011
* Berg Alert 2012
* Berg Alert 2013
* Berg Alert 2014
* Berg Alert 2015
* Berg Alert 2016
* Berg Alert 2017

General Security Precautions

Current areas of concern
Amphitheatre: The odd incident of bags and tents being raided when camping in the main valley around the Tugela river, see this thread for suggestions on other camping areas.
There was a nasty incident in the Khubedu Valley where it passes Icidi pass in 2016 which resulted in the this discussion.

Rhino Peak / Mashai Pass: There have been a few reports of intimidation and rock throwing by shepherds.

Hodgesons / Masubasuba Pass / Sani: There was a mugging in 2015 on the pass, and apparently various cases of tourists being pestered around the top of Sani Pass. See Berg Alert 2015 for more details.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
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15 Mar 2018 16:01 #72985 by Jim
Replied by Jim on topic Berg Alert 2018
Hi Everyone

I'm Planning a hike with a few friends (4 of us) for the last weekend in April. We would like to hike from Monks Cowl to Keith's bush camp and spend the night there. Day 2 up Greys pass to the top of Champagne Castle and back to KBC for the second night. Day 3 We head home.

I'm concerned about the security in that area especially at night. Do we need to take turns being on guard?

Any Advice?

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15 Mar 2018 16:21 #72986 by Smurfatefrog
Replied by Smurfatefrog on topic Berg Alert 2018

Jim wrote: Hi Everyone

I'm Planning a hike with a few friends (4 of us) for the last weekend in April. We would like to hike from Monks Cowl to Keith's bush camp and spend the night there. Day 2 up Greys pass to the top of Champagne Castle and back to KBC for the second night. Day 3 We head home.

I'm concerned about the security in that area especially at night. Do we need to take turns being on guard?

Any Advice?

Not at all.
The pass does get used often by smugglers, they often come down around sunset and head back up again around sunrise.
They have created a new path that avoids the ridge above KBC to avoid being seen (and maybe its easier?), but they do their own thing and are not known to venture into KBC or bother hikers.
That being said, still don't leave valuable items lying outside your tents
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16 Mar 2018 03:39 #72990 by eisbein
Replied by eisbein on topic Berg Alert 2018
Hi guys. I am planning a hike in april and was wondering what the current security situation is like for the Mnweni (Rockeries Loop).
I have been living in New Zealand for the last couple years so I have unfortunately lost touch with the drakensberg.
Since i will most probably be hiking on my own and I remember there being an Incident on Fangs pass a few years ago I thought i would check first :thumbsup:

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16 Mar 2018 07:38 - 16 Mar 2018 07:46 #72991 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Berg Alert 2018
Hi eisbein, no problems in the Mnweni Area on the Rockeries - Mnweni loop you want to do. The biggest potential issue is your tolerance level for locals demanding to be given sweets multiple times by everyone you walk past.

The incident you refer to happened quite far inland in Lesotho (see the link at the top of this thread to the Khubedu valley incident), and had nothing to do with Fangs Pass - Fangs Pass just got tangled into the story because the guys involved were heading to intersect the escarpment near Fangs Pass, and this was used as a general reference to the area where the incident occurred. There is still an advisory warning in effect for the summit from the Amphitheatre south to Fangs Pass, but this will not affect you, and there have been no further incidents reported in this area.

Also note that Shepherds Cave and Five Star Cave may be occupied by locals.
Last edit: 16 Mar 2018 07:46 by tonymarshall.

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16 Mar 2018 11:44 #72994 by eisbein
Replied by eisbein on topic Berg Alert 2018
Thanks Tony, that is the kind of news i was hoping for. :hike:

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20 Mar 2018 09:07 #73009 by WarrenM
Replied by WarrenM on topic Berg Alert 2018
Hi Eisbein

We were in the Mnweni area this weekend, third trip to a part of the Mnweni this year and are very comfortable hiking through the area.

While the weather was really not great on Saturday and mildly better as the day progressed on Sunday, we slept in the upper 5 star cave, and then in Mponjwane cave.

We did see local in the Mnweni valley as is usually the case, and on the escarpment there were shepherds, again as is usually the case, but all were fairly pleasant.

Both 5 star caves (upper and lower) were not occupied and it didn't look like Shepherds cave was either, but I'm assuming that that was just because of the weather, as you can see they do use the caves, and say 80% of the time we go past Shepherds cave there is someone there.

With the above said both the Mnweni and Rockeries route is active, you can visibly see it it when hiking the route even if you don't see anyone, so for us the usually precautions apply as they would do in other parts of the berg.

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29 Mar 2018 12:13 #73092 by Udi420
Replied by Udi420 on topic Berg Alert 2018
Hi,
Just a question regarding security....
Myself and 2 friends doing 5 days in the Berg starting on Monday. Route will be
Sentinel Car Park - Infidi Pass (Day 1)
Infidi Pass - Fangs Pass (Day 2)
Fangs Pass - Ledgers Cave (Day 3)
Ledger's Cave - Twins Cave (Day 4)
Twins Cave - Bell Traverse - Cathedral Peak - Car - Reality.(Day 5)

Have there been any recent security issues? is there anything to look out for?
Definitely gonna look into either rigging something up or purchasing the perimeter alarms.

Regards

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10 Apr 2018 13:37 #73150 by Sabine
Replied by Sabine on topic Berg Alert 2018
I got this very disturbing email from Adam Catzavelos, who sent it to the Johannesburg hiking club:

On Monday 02/04/2018 myself and two friends set off for our Mini Traverse, starting at Sentinel Car Park and finishing at Cathedral Peak.

On the 2nd night of our hike we camped at this location S28 51.097 E028 56.723 and at around 21:45 I was woken by the sounds of someone undoing my flysheet from my tent poles,

I started shouting for my friends and as soon as i did rocks (brick sizes and bigger) started been thrown at mine and my friends tents, in the meantime they had cut my other friends tent and stole his backpack and most of his gear that was in the pack. We are not sure how many people there were that night but we have had a guess at 4-5.

Had I not been sleeping where I was I would have definitely taken at least 1 rock to my head.

It seems as though we got off lucky with only minor injuries sustained during the attack.

Regards

Adam
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10 Apr 2018 14:06 - 10 Apr 2018 14:15 #73151 by JonWells
Replied by JonWells on topic Berg Alert 2018
Agreed, it is very worrying to hear of a second serious attack in this region!

Here is the location of the reported co-ordinates:

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Last edit: 10 Apr 2018 14:15 by JonWells.
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