Itineraries for doing the Bell Traverse

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


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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22 Feb 2021 19:03 #76546 by Smurfatefrog

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

That path can be tough to find, I've battled going up and down!
The best option is to get to the "big tree" at the campsite and find the path from there
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23 Feb 2021 08:55 #76547 by Badger
Link to instructions and an exe that creates a nice topo drakensberg map in Basecamp

www.dropbox.com/s/oguiee8s9y34dqp/Archive.zip?dl=0

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