Itineraries for doing the Bell Traverse

19 Mar 2019 16:07 #74821 by Riaang
Hi Zwakefield,

Why pitch a tent when you can sleep in Twins cave? Or Twins Annex cave (about 200m or so from Twins cave itself - as you exit Twins cave, walk towards the cliffs facing you directly opposite the cave, and then just traverse 160m to the right to the annex). Alternatively you can go to Easter cave or the overhang on Christmas pass just below Easter cave. But if you want to sleep in tents you can definitely camp next to the river on the Lesotho side of the escarpment. On the escarpment side itself nope, don't know any tenting spots until you get to around 2200m ASL.

From Twins cave itself Mlambonja pass is super easy to find. When standing in the cave, face outwards. follow the path to your left (steep, lots of loose rocks) over the col. As you go over the col the path will turn towards your right where it meets up with the main Mlambonja path coming down from the escarpment. Turn left here and follow it down.

Enjoy!!!
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27 Mar 2019 14:49 #74832 by timoross
Hi Zwakefield

I would stay at Sherman's cave on day 1. You have to book through the parks board. It's the last point that you can get water on the route. You'll need to carry about 3/4 litres from this point to the top dependent on your pack weight and fitness. It's a 2 -3 hour hike from the hotel.

If you stay day 2 at Twins you need to hike up to the escarpment to get water. I have camped next to the river on the escarpment another 30 minutes above Twins.

It is a four day weekend, if you add in an extra day you could hike across to Tseketseke campsite or Rolands Cave on day 3 and descend either Tseketseke or the Camel on day 4. Also great morning views from the escarpment.

Just be fit.

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19 Feb 2021 08:29 #76529 by Badger
Hi all

I'm looking to run/trek/hike the Bell Traverse on the 27th of this month.
(Have done a lot of Berg running, however I have not hiked or run this area before)

SUPER excited to see these mountains from up close! Terrified of all the climbing though too!

Below are the 2 possible routes I'm looking at. (After a lot of reading on this forum :) , really a huge fan and thanks to all the contributors!)
Both starting at Cath Peak Hotel, up to Cath peak and then through to the Twins.

The red route goes down Mlambonja pass.
The black down towards Tseketseke hut.

Questions I have please:
(Since I know the condition of these passes must have changed in the last month from all the rain)
  1. Which of the passes would be the LEAST bush whacking and rock hopping? (Between Mlambonja, Xeni, Cockade and Tseketseke?
  2. Mlambonja seems like a lot of zigzagging, would it be better to go the extra distance up to Cockade or Tseketseke?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you

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19 Feb 2021 10:09 #76531 by Smurfatefrog
Hey Badger

We're heading up the Bell traverse on the 27th, so you will probably see you.

Which of the passes would be the LEAST bush whacking and rock hopping? (Between Mlambonja, Xeni, Cockade and Tseketseke?
Mlambonja seems like a lot of zigzagging, would it be better to go the extra distance up to Cockade or Tseketseke?


Xeni and Cockade don't have paths and involve scrambles and boulder hopping, so not good choices for a fast day out.
Tseke is not too bad, the lower section is boulder hopping. I did this in November and the pass was in decent condition, although there has been plenty rain since.
Mlambonja is the easiest choice, shorter route, and has a path. There will be a little bush wacking near the bottom, but nothing extreme.
I can't recall major zigzags, but all passes, with paths, zigzag to a degree
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19 Feb 2021 10:31 #76532 by Riaang
Hi Badger,

Welcome to VE!

In terms of ranking passes with more to less amount of paths, the sequence would be Mlambonja, Tseke, and then the rest. Mlambonja is your easiest and fastest option. You can also go out via OneTreeHill, which although slightly further, would be faster as the paths are less overgrown (well, they were in Nov last year). I wouldn't classify Xeni (either North or south, or the Mlambonja buttress pass) as a trail running pass in the slightest, as the terrain will force you to walk most of the way. Nice hiking passes though :-)

Whichever route you choose, enjoy the mountains!!!
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19 Feb 2021 14:29 #76533 by Badger
Thank you both Riaan and Smurfatefrog!

Riaan, where is OneTreeHill? I can't seem to find it on my Top maps.

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21 Feb 2021 07:29 #76534 by firephish

Badger wrote:
Riaan, where is OneTreeHill? I can't seem to find it on my Top maps.


The One Tree hill path is the dotted line that breaks off to the true left from your Mlambonja track (red line) at the contour path level.
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21 Feb 2021 15:22 #76538 by sibr
Hi off topic question. Where did you get that map? I've been looking for a decent trail map for some time. Thanks

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21 Feb 2021 20:12 #76539 by Badger
Thank you firephish :)

I’ll post a link to the one I have, installs to Garmin Basecamp

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22 Feb 2021 18:33 - 22 Feb 2021 18:34 #76545 by Nicolaas
When coming down Mlambonja, I have struggled to get onto the contour path (red line on the above map) on a previous instance. Quite tall grass and difficult to find. Path goes straight out the valley against the steep slope on the true right. Maybe just my experience :S ? A frustrating few minutes, I guess wont be a problem when going up. Any advice? I know it is around the point where you cross quite a big river cascade across a large flat rock in the river
Last edit: 22 Feb 2021 18:34 by Nicolaas.

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