Solo hiking in the Berg

07 Mar 2018 16:04 #72942 by Henniederuyter
One should never hike alone. It is true that one gets to hike at one's own pace, get to be able to use a tripod at waterfalls, take stunning pictures and enjoy peace and absolute quiet.

I have firmly stick to this rule and have only ever deviated from it when I went up Cathedral Peak, just about all day hikes in the Lower Berg, Amphitheatre, Table Mountain (most known hikes there), Constantia Peak, George Peak, Swartboskloof near Stellenbosh and many more.

You only live once. Take care on that N3, it kills far more hikers than the Berg.

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23 Oct 2020 11:18 #76239 by AfricaBen1
Replied by AfricaBen1 on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Guys, quick sanity check and words of advice please

I have a few days off work unexpectedly as I am starting a new job. Planning a solo Berg hike next week. I am an experienced hiker but this will be my first solo overnight hike.

Day 1: Monk's Cowl to Keith Bush Camp (I have done this before so should feel somewhat familiar)
Day 2: Keith's Bush Camp up Grey's Pass across the escarpment and Down Leslie's. Camp at bottom of the pass. A big day but I don't want to overnight alone on top of the escarpment for security reasons
Day 3: Bottom of Leslie's back to Monk's Cowl

Thoughts and suggestions on the route and hiking solo in this area would be much appreciated. I will be bringing a sat phone.

Am I right to assume that the Park's Board guys won't give me hassle at Monk's Cowl getting a permit to hike solo?

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23 Oct 2020 12:16 #76241 by Smurfatefrog

AfricaBen1 wrote: Guys, quick sanity check and words of advice please

I have a few days off work unexpectedly as I am starting a new job. Planning a solo Berg hike next week. I am an experienced hiker but this will be my first solo overnight hike.

Day 1: Monk's Cowl to Keith Bush Camp (I have done this before so should feel somewhat familiar)
Day 2: Keith's Bush Camp up Grey's Pass across the escarpment and Down Leslie's. Camp at bottom of the pass. A big day but I don't want to overnight alone on top of the escarpment for security reasons
Day 3: Bottom of Leslie's back to Monk's Cowl

Thoughts and suggestions on the route and hiking solo in this area would be much appreciated. I will be bringing a sat phone.

Am I right to assume that the Park's Board guys won't give me hassle at Monk's Cowl getting a permit to hike solo?

What route are you planning to take from the base of Leslies back to Monks Cowl?

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23 Oct 2020 14:50 #76243 by AfricaBen1
Replied by AfricaBen1 on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Contor path through to Blind Man's Corner. Sounds like the path may be a little overgrown and hard to find?

Smurfatefrog wrote:

AfricaBen1 wrote: Guys, quick sanity check and words of advice please

I have a few days off work unexpectedly as I am starting a new job. Planning a solo Berg hike next week. I am an experienced hiker but this will be my first solo overnight hike.

Day 1: Monk's Cowl to Keith Bush Camp (I have done this before so should feel somewhat familiar)
Day 2: Keith's Bush Camp up Grey's Pass across the escarpment and Down Leslie's. Camp at bottom of the pass. A big day but I don't want to overnight alone on top of the escarpment for security reasons
Day 3: Bottom of Leslie's back to Monk's Cowl

Thoughts and suggestions on the route and hiking solo in this area would be much appreciated. I will be bringing a sat phone.

Am I right to assume that the Park's Board guys won't give me hassle at Monk's Cowl getting a permit to hike solo?

What route are you planning to take from the base of Leslies back to Monks Cowl?

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23 Oct 2020 17:24 #76244 by grae22
Replied by grae22 on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
I wouldn't be too concerned if you're experienced with Berg passes (i.e. you have done many) and are confident you can look after yourself if things go wrong (don't rely on the sat phone to call for rescue) :)

Worth bearing in mind people are rescued off both those passes quite frequently and being solo... you'll be waiting a while before anyone comes looking. If the weather (or anything else) forces you back down Grey's - take care not to miss the exit out of the boulder bed (descending too far down has proved fatal recently). The loose section on Leslie's has claimed recent casualties, too.

I think the vegetation around Cowl Fork is more of a nuisance than a significant navigation issue.

It may seem obvious, but when you're solo you don't have anyone else to keeping an eye on things ("wait a sec, shouldn't we have turned left back there?"). Don't get too caught up in the scenery and be deliberate with your decision-making and actions (crossing rivers, etc.).

- Graeme

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26 Oct 2020 11:45 #76250 by TheRealDave
Replied by TheRealDave on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Why go all the way to Leslie's and not descend Ship's Prow? Descending Ship's is pretty straightforward. From the bottom of Leslie's to Monk's Cowl is about 30 km.

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26 Oct 2020 22:56 #76258 by supertramp
Replied by supertramp on topic Solo hiking in the Berg

AfricaBen1 wrote: Guys, quick sanity check and words of advice please

I have a few days off work unexpectedly as I am starting a new job. Planning a solo Berg hike next week. I am an experienced hiker but this will be my first solo overnight hike.

Day 1: Monk's Cowl to Keith Bush Camp (I have done this before so should feel somewhat familiar)
Day 2: Keith's Bush Camp up Grey's Pass across the escarpment and Down Leslie's. Camp at bottom of the pass. A big day but I don't want to overnight alone on top of the escarpment for security reasons
Day 3: Bottom of Leslie's back to Monk's Cowl

Thoughts and suggestions on the route and hiking solo in this area would be much appreciated. I will be bringing a sat phone.

Am I right to assume that the Park's Board guys won't give me hassle at Monk's Cowl getting a permit to hike solo?


Hi there,

Having gone up Grays pass this weekend I just want to caution that there is no water at Keith Bush Camp. That section of the Berg is unbelievably dry.

Reaching the first "river" towards Grays after exiting the contour path I was dumbstruck to find it completely dry. This is the one that has the 2 campsites on the left and right of the path just before the river.


We were fortunate to have found water by following the riverbed down for about 50m.

Although dry below we were very happy to find that the Inkosazana river on top still had good flowing water

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27 Oct 2020 07:31 #76260 by Smurfatefrog

supertramp wrote:

AfricaBen1 wrote: Guys, quick sanity check and words of advice please

I have a few days off work unexpectedly as I am starting a new job. Planning a solo Berg hike next week. I am an experienced hiker but this will be my first solo overnight hike.

Day 1: Monk's Cowl to Keith Bush Camp (I have done this before so should feel somewhat familiar)
Day 2: Keith's Bush Camp up Grey's Pass across the escarpment and Down Leslie's. Camp at bottom of the pass. A big day but I don't want to overnight alone on top of the escarpment for security reasons
Day 3: Bottom of Leslie's back to Monk's Cowl

Thoughts and suggestions on the route and hiking solo in this area would be much appreciated. I will be bringing a sat phone.

Am I right to assume that the Park's Board guys won't give me hassle at Monk's Cowl getting a permit to hike solo?


Hi there,

Having gone up Grays pass this weekend I just want to caution that there is no water at Keith Bush Camp. That section of the Berg is unbelievably dry.

Reaching the first "river" towards Grays after exiting the contour path I was dumbstruck to find it completely dry. This is the one that has the 2 campsites on the left and right of the path just before the river.


We were fortunate to have found water by following the riverbed down for about 50m.

Although dry below we were very happy to find that the Inkosazana river on top still had good flowing water

The river flows underground in this whole section!
Last year October we had the same thing, with this crossing dry (except for just down of it) and at KBC, but when heading up Champagne Frontal route the same river was flowing much higher up, until about 2600m
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27 Oct 2020 09:39 #76261 by supertramp
Replied by supertramp on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Thanks Smurfatefrog! I was wondering whether that was the case. Luckily we managed to fill up downstream of this point and had enough water to get to the top of Grays (did a one day summit)

We could not spot any water in the valley below as we ascended and we met a group of hikers that camped at Keith Bush Camp on Saturday. They also could not find water in the vicinity and had to spend the night with only the little they had on them. I guess knowing where to find and stocking up would have helped a lot.

We also spoke with a couple of locals and they have raised the concern on how dry it is at the moment (especially in this section). Given the popularity of this route I really I hope it rains well soon.

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27 Oct 2020 13:48 #76266 by vivo101
Replied by vivo101 on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
@AfricaBen1 I did a solo hike last year going up Ships in a day from Monks Cowl. The rangers did not have any problem with me going alone, although I did not ask permission, just filled in the register and payed.

If your planning on hiking alone more regularly I would suggest investing in a SPOT GEN3, SPOT X , Garmin Inreach or similar GPS tracking device. Its more versatile than a SAT phone in my opinion. If you take a fall and get knocked out, a SAT phone is not of much use, but your last known location will keep on sending from your GPS tracker. This will give mountain rescue a starting location should you not return.

Have fun and stay safe :thumbsup:

"To those who are enthralled by mountains, their wonder is beyond all dispute. To those who are not, their allure is a kind of madness." - Mountain

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