Corner Pass / Judge Pass, Mafadi, Leslie's Pass Loop

21 Feb 2017 14:38 #70949 by MarleyB
Hi All,

My friends and I are preparing for a 3 night hike in April, in the Giants Castle Game reserve.

When we booked the Caves, the lady helping us with our booking suggested that we book the Caves in the following order and she also added the following information with regard to the duration of each day's hike -
Day 1: Overnight at Upper Injisuthi Cave, 8 hour hike to Upper Injisuthi Cave (no kilometer distance were given)
Day 2: Overnight at Marble Baths Cave, 10km & 5 hour hike to Marble Baths Cave
Day 3: Overnight at Lower Injisuthi Cave, 12km & 6 hour hike to Lower Injisuthi Cave
Day 4: Return to Injisuthi Campsite, (no duration or kilometer distance were given)

I want to know if anyone would be able to advise us on which routes would be best to take to our different overnight caves, as well as whether you think that it would be possible for us to summit Mafadi on the Second day, as I have read that it is near the Upper Injisuthi Cave?

Also can anyone advise me on where we could get a GPS map of the trails in the Injisuthi area?

Your assistance is this matter is greatly appreciated.

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21 Feb 2017 15:17 #70951 by ghaznavid
10 hours to Upper Injisuthi Cave - with a day pack speed hiking style, perhaps. And even then you would need to be rather fit. Otherwise that is incredibly optimistic.

Nonetheless, I am going to guess that they meant day 1 to Marble Baths, and day 2 to Upper Injisuthi Cave - that day 2 is still a solid 8 hour day (with the obligatory stop on Mafadi, of course). Leslies Pass is the logical route between those caves, but be aware that it is a slow pass with a very overgrown approach. If you look at the map - ignore Hilton Pass and Injisuthi Pass, both routes require technical climbing to get up.

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21 Feb 2017 15:28 #70952 by MarleyB
Thank you for the info.

The lady booked the caves in the order which I previously mentioned, that is why I asked about the routes.

We will ask her to correct our booking to the order that you have suggested, so that Day 1 is Marble Baths Cave and Day 2 is Upper Injisuthi Cave.

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21 Feb 2017 15:47 #70953 by tonymarshall
Hi MarleyB,

It seems like the lady at Injisuthi could also use our advice.

There seems to be no point in including Lower Injisuthi Cave into your itinerary if you intend hiking to the summit, which you clearly do, as it a detour that you will not want to take, either on your way to or back from the summit.

I gather you are fairly new to Drakensberg hiking, so would suggest reading up a bit on this site on the Mafadi, Corner Pass and Leslies Pass threads to obtain some more information, and enable you to plan your hike route with more knowledge.

I can assist with gps tracks (and advice if you need), please pm me.

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21 Feb 2017 16:08 - 21 Feb 2017 16:34 #70954 by Dillon
I cannot believe that a person assisting on the phone would simply suggest walking to Upper Injisuthi Cave for your first night, clearly they have absolutely no clue of what is involved. I’ve done it once before and it was an extremely tough day in the mountains - it was about 20km via Corner Pass and took us +-8.5hrs. (For context, I did Mnweni Marathon a month later in just over 8hrs). It’s a few km further via Marble Baths/Leslie’s Pass.

The route Ghaz suggested is much better, however Marble Baths to Upper Injisuthi is still a tough day, I would suggest doing the route in reverse to make it a bit easier; rather do Marble Baths Cave on the 3rd night. And instead of Lower Injisuthi Cave, rather stay your 1st night at Centenary Hut – it’s a bit of a wreck, but it should keep you dry. Do a search on the forum for the Northern High Approach (NHA) to Corner Pass, it’ll save you some time getting to the top from Centenary.

It’s a bit hard to gauge how much hiking experience and fitness you and your friends have from a post on an internet forum, but if this is your first outing in the Drakensberg, I would suggest possibly rather sticking to the lower berg for the first trip. If you have your hearts set on 3 nights at Injisuthi, then I can maybe suggest heading to Lower Injisuthi Cave for the 1st night, Marble Baths Cave for the 2nd and Grindstone Cave for the 3rd. There may be a bit of bundu bashing required between Marble Baths and Grindstone, but probably not a whole lot worse than you would’ve faced heading to or from the base of Leslie’s Pass.
Last edit: 21 Feb 2017 16:34 by Dillon. Reason: Spelling

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21 Feb 2017 16:23 #70955 by JonWells
The following user(s) said Thank You: MarleyB

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21 Feb 2017 16:47 #70956 by Smurfatefrog
Another thing to consider is that generally escarpment caves can't be booked, they normally work on a first come first served basis
You could quite possibly get to Upper Injisuthi cave and find other hikers or Basothos staying there
So when heading onto the escarpment it's generally a good idea to take tents
The following user(s) said Thank You: MarleyB

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22 Feb 2017 08:25 #70968 by MarleyB
Thank you very much for the help and information Dillon.

Half of our group have previously done hikes in other parts of the Berg, but I did recommend to them that we should rather do the lower berg hike as you have suggested, Lower Injisuthi Cave - Marble Baths Cave - Grindstone Cave.

The majority of the group decided that they still want to hike to Mafadi, so I have suggested that we rather do the route as suggested in, where we stay at Centenary Hut - Upper Injisuthi - Marble Baths.

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22 Mar 2017 15:08 #71192 by leeuw

Did this loop this past weekend. What an amazing route! Slept at Centenary hut thennup Corner pass, Upper Injisuthi cave, Mafadi and down Leslies pass to Marble Baths.

Thank for all the information posted and to Smurf for his gpx track.

I must say navigating the last section from the bottom of Leslies to Marble Baths in the dark was challenging.

Full report and photos to follow.

Cheers Anton

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03 Apr 2017 10:07 #71228 by christiaanvoges

ghaznavid wrote: I second what Viking said - rather go up Corner Pass than down it. Alternatively, you can stay on the contour path for longer and use Judge Pass - it is a great pass and has a trail the entire way, however the trail keeps going past the contour path, so if you don't watch out, you could end up going too far down.

The trick to finding Upper Injisuthi Cave - as you climb the trail towards Injisuthi Dome (that goes to the Mafadi/Injisuthi saddle), when the trail starts to swing around Injisuthi Dome, head for the Injisuthi/Trojan Wall saddle. From the saddle, contour around at the same altitude till you see a trail. This trail goes straight into the cave.

Regarding the route down from Mafadi - if you follow the long ridge (not the one that heads out towards the escarpment edge immediately in front of Mafadi - so aim for the 3375m on the map, not 3338m), and keep along the top of this ridge to the top of Leslies - this is one of the most scenic lines I have ever done in the Berg. Supposedly it is slower/harder than the valley route, but IMO it makes no real difference in terms of difficulty, but is far more scenic. There is a trail along this route, as well as cairns to mark it - although it periodically dies or becomes unclear. There are also cairns that are off route.

Also don't miss the escarpment edge above the Triplets - it is a really beautiful spot.

Ps. Mafadi is rarely done from Giants Castle, but isn't much further that way round - so remember that there are a few options. The nice thing about doing it from Injisuthi is that you can do a round trip with Judge/Corner/Around the Corner looped with Leslies. From Giants you can loop a large number of passes, but will have at least a degree of walking back the way you came - and if you stay on top for long enough to come down a different way, you will have to head over the Popple and Sanqebethu Ridges.

GPS track added for Judge Pass route from Giants side as requested via PM.

Final edit (I hope) : I see Smurf's track shows the line I was talking about to the cave and the high walkout line :thumbsup:


Please will you PM me that GPS track as well?? We are thinking of going up there this month, so I'd like to also have that GPS track to guide me.



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