Sentinal - Mweni mini traverse

03 Apr 2019 14:38 #74864 by the Hopeful
Hi guys

Does anybody have some advice on hiking from Mweni Hiking Centre to Sentinal Car Park ?

We are a large group of moderate hikers who want to attempt this one direction hike over 4 days.

1) Is this doable over a period of 4 days ?
2) Any advice on where to set up our tents for the 3 nights ?
3) Does anybody have an idea of the distance of this route ? 
4) Any luck of GPS coordinates of this route ?

I have the map of this area.

Will much appreciate any help.
Thanks

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03 Apr 2019 18:43 #74865 by Drakie1
When do you intend to do this hike?

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04 Apr 2019 12:39 #74868 by Riaang
Hi Hopefull,

see below answers to your questions:

1) Is this doable over a period of 4 days ?
Absolutely. Question: How will you get back to your car parked at MCC? Or at Sentinel car park? It's quite a bit of a drive between these 2 points.
2) Any advice on where to set up our tents for the 3 nights ?
That would depend on how many people you are in your group. I'll provide some ideas towards the end.
3) Does anybody have an idea of the distance of this route ? 
Guessing here, but it's around 20km's to the top of Ifidi pass, from here to the chain ladders another 15km's and then about 4km's down to the carpark.
4) Any luck of GPS coordinates of this route ?
Look in the downloads section of this website, plenty of tracks covering this area.

If I were to take a group of moderately fit people on this route, I would do it as follows:
Day 1 from MCC to somewhere in the vacinity of cycad cave. Or possibly a bit further, there are some flat spots on the left side of the river.
Day 2 will be reserved to get up Ifidi pass. Is there anyone with a fear of heights in your group? There are 3 scrambles in th efinal 100m to the top of Ifidi pass, take some ropes along to hoist packs. Does anyone in the group have any climbing experience? The scrambles aren't difficult but the one is about 3m high and could possibly be a problem if you have absolutely no idea how to get over it. My wife is 1,6m tall and has a small amount of climbing experience (mostly from getting over obstacles in the Berg) and she got up it without assistance, to put the difficulty of the obstacles into perspective. For night 2 I would opt to spend time in Ifidi cave, or tent somewhere on the flat spots towards the river. For the cave you would have to go down to the river for water and walk back to the cave, which, depending on where you find water in the river, is anything from a 3 - 5km trek.
Day 3 I would walk towards the Eastern Buttress and walk all along the escarpment edge. A bit longer route but well worth the views. I would then sleep over either somewhere near the Tugela falls (watch out for thieves at night) or Sentinel caves. You definitely want to spend some your 3rd night somewhere on the escarpment.
Day 4 Walk down to the car park. Easy day and shouldn't take very long at all.

Your days, in order of difficulty, are as follows:
D1 - easy, end of day a bit tougher than the initial start
D2 - tough day. Remember to take enough water before you go up the chimney section as there is generally no water here, especially as we approach winter
D3 - moderate. A climb or two, nothing serious, but a bit of distance could make it harder
D4 - very easy, unless your knees doesn't like downhills.

I have the map of this area.

Will much appreciate any help.
Thanks

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05 Apr 2019 21:57 #74876 by the Hopeful
Hi Riaang

Thanks for the reply. 

1) Glad to hear it is possible ! I have the phone number of a Taxi owner who will hopefully be able to help us between the start and the end of our trip. (got his number from a previous trip). 
2) We are quite a large group, looks like a total of 22 hikers.
3) I over estimated the distance from the top of the pass to the chain ladder. (Currently away from home for working purposes, don't have my map in front of me at this moment ).
4) Thanks, I will have a look.

Appreciate your advice on our route. Will definitely keep it in mind in our final planning. Have been up Mnweni once, but we had some awful weather, so looking forward for the scenery and will definitely spend some time on the escarpment  !  

This is surely going to be our hiking trip for the year.

Regards

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05 Apr 2019 21:58 #74877 by the Hopeful
We are planning our trip for the Easter weekend. Luckily not this weekend. First snow of the year is hitting the Drakensberg if the news is correct.

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08 Apr 2019 10:47 #74884 by dangerdave
I would honestly rather up the distance and go up Mnweni pass and then more up top there than go anywhere near Ifidi. Every year the X-Berg athletes do this route in reverse and all curse coming down ifidi so would hate to go up there to be honest.

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08 Apr 2019 14:22 #74888 by tonymarshall
Hi the Hopeful,

For a large group of moderate ability, I would certainly not recommend that you commence this hike by ascending Ifidi Pass, which is commonly recognised as one of the most difficult passes in the berg - many regard it as the most difficult. As has been suggested, rather use Mnweni Pass, and have the extra distance around the cutback, than risk part of your team not making it up Ifidi, a lot of morale issues, and sore bodies for the rest of the hike.

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08 Apr 2019 15:08 #74890 by dangerdave
Also note- the road to the carpark at sentinel is in particularly bad shape as off like 3 weeks back, make sure your taxi driver is ok with it. 

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