Looking for ideas: Moderately difficult 3 day hike from Cathedral Peak

05 Mar 2018 14:37 - 05 Mar 2018 16:30 #72919 by MrGAmba
Hi Everyone,

** Edit **: I got confused between Cathedral Peak area and Giants Castle area... doh!

I'm really impressed by the sheer amount of information to be found on this forum! Lots of trail reports and pictures, nice!

Yet, this much information is hard to condense into a nice 3 day hike when unfamilair with the Drakensberg area.

Having read some of the topics it looks like it shouldn't be a problem to go up the escarpment in a three day hike, The experience of sleeping in a cave is also quite high on our list.

Would you guys recommend this route?
- Day 1: Cathedral Peak hotel - Ndumeni Cave
- Day 2: Ndumeni Cave - Easter Cave
- Day3: Easter Cave - (via Cathedral peak) - Cathedral peak hotel

Looking forward to your ideas!

Kind regards,

Gar Oome

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Last edit: 05 Mar 2018 16:30 by MrGAmba.

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05 Mar 2018 16:33 #72921 by MrGAmba
Regardless, would anyone advice hiking in the Giants castle above the Cathedral peak area? (regarding: Safety. water, scenery)

The Cathedral peak area shows a lot more tracks than the Giants castle area, AND has the Rolands cave option as well.

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05 Mar 2018 17:12 #72922 by Nicolaas
Hi Gar, welcome to the site! From my perspective, each Drakensberg area is special in its own right. I would say in the Giant's Castle area you can link a few easier passes, if you have less experienced hikers in your group. If this is not a problem, your proposed Cathedral route is worthwhile.
Have you previously visited or done multiple day hikes in the Drakensberg? Personal safety (having enough hiking experience) and weather is always factors to consider in the mountains. During this time of the year, water is abundant in the Drakensberg, except maybe the Bell traverse, which you will do on Day 3 of your proposed route.

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06 Mar 2018 10:25 - 06 Mar 2018 16:30 #72927 by MrGAmba
Hi Nicolaas,

Thanks for the response :-). Nice to see that there is an active community around the Drakensberg area.

After some debate yesterday we changed the route to a more relaxed and moderate pace with options to bail out if weather is bad or if we overestimated our fitness level. The 1500hm - 10k climb of the first day looked a bit daunting, so we cut it into two pieces.

The plan is now:
- Day 1: Parking - ~2100m up (no yet sure where to sleep here, any suggestions?)
- Day 2: ~2100m - Rolands cave (this way we have a full day for the ~1000hm)
- Day 3: Rolands cave - Old Staff accomodation (full day for 1000hm decent and maybe a small roundtrip to look over the Ndedema valley)
- Day 4: Old Staff accomodation - Parking (via the Rainbow gorge, can we pass this after summer with lots of water comming down the mountain?)

Some other questions have come to mind after looking around the VE site. Where to register this trip (and the "reservation" of the cave)? Didima camp is closed as far as I understand, so we are a bit lost on where we can register our trip?

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Last edit: 06 Mar 2018 16:30 by JonWells.
The following user(s) said Thank You: AndrewP

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06 Mar 2018 13:35 - 06 Mar 2018 13:39 #72928 by tonymarshall
This revised plan is quite realistic and a lot less ambitious than your first plan, assuming that you are new to the Drakensberg.

Looking at your map, you intend to go up the Camel route, and down Thuthumi Pass, linked with Rainbow Gorge, which is still a challenging route, but quite suited to four days.

Going up the Camel route, it is not practical to overnight camp at around 2100 m, there is no flat ground there, or water nearby. It would be best to overnight camp above the Ribbon Falls, next to the stream quite near the trail where water is available easily and there is flat ground to tent, at about 1950 m altitude. This is the usual stopover for this route if you do it over two days (or one and a half days, day 1 is quite short and can easily be done in the afternoon), and it is still quite comfortable to do the ascent from 1950 m to Rolands Cave on the second day.

Rainbow Gorge may be a problem with a lot of water, depending on where you descend from the ridge above into the gorge, if it is quite high upstream it will be difficult, if you enter the gorge further downstream it should be fine.

You do not have to make any reservations for your planned route, Rolands Cave cannot be reserved, and is a first come first served cave.

The mountain register must be completed, and is at the EKZNW Didima reception. You will complete the register and pay the overnight fees here, and then you can go by car to the parking area at Cathedral Peak Hotel.
Last edit: 06 Mar 2018 13:39 by tonymarshall.

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06 Mar 2018 13:41 #72929 by MrGAmba
Hi Tony,

Thanks for the extra information! Time to update the plan.

If the Ribbon fall are as easily accessible as you say we might be able to start the trip a day earlier :-D.

Regarding rainbow gorge, we will see whether what the water level is like and access the gorge accordingly.

Looking forward to this trip!

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06 Mar 2018 13:49 - 06 Mar 2018 13:52 #72930 by Nicolaas
Maybe if you sleep the first night in the Tseketseke hut (shown on your map in pink), second day you do Tseketseke pass and turn south-east towards Rolands cave (Cleft peak is a nice high-point on the route), and on the third day you can do the descent route you proposed.

The Tseketseke hut and Rolands cave you can book through the Didima camp reservations office. I think someone else should advise on the precise procedure, or you might find it on the site.

Edit: Thanks Tony!
Last edit: 06 Mar 2018 13:52 by Nicolaas.

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06 Mar 2018 14:03 #72931 by MrGAmba
Having read some of the Tskeketseke trail descriptions I think it will be a bit to adventurous, reports of loose boulders, need of climbing rope, etc.

This being our first hike in the Drakensberg I think that keeping it easy is better.

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06 Mar 2018 17:44 #72934 by AndrewP
I like your map, looks so easy to use :whistle:

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07 Mar 2018 07:51 #72937 by tonymarshall
Just a correction to a comment in my previous post, where I said you were going down Thuthumi Pass. I have studied the map a bit more thoroughly now, and see that you are in fact going down Organ Pipes Pass (the Thuthumi Ridge route). This is good, and a bit easier than using Thuthumi Pass, which runs parallel to Organ Pipes Pass in the valley below.

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