Ntonjelana Pass

17 Oct 2011 15:08 #4394 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Ntonjelana Pass
To my knowledge and by recent observation, both passes have heavy traffic, although I'm uncertain whether pack animals still use Rockeries Pass.



We came across several donkeys and their master quite high up while descending iNtonyelana Pass two weeks ago in the rain. They were returning to Lesotho and most were unladen or loaded with bundles of empty bags.

It also surprised me that Rockeries Pass became more popular in the 1990s, considering iNtonyelana's popularity before then.

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17 Oct 2011 15:30 - 17 Oct 2011 15:32 #4395 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Ntonjelana Pass
Thanks for the photo. Ntonjelane does look a whole lot better for donkeys. The only thing I can think of which might explain the popularity of Rockeries is that Rockeries makes a more direct link to the big highway that more or less starts at the Mnweni cut-back. Going north on that path from Rockeries instead of Ntonjelane would save someone a few hours to half a day. I've never really worked out where that highway goes.

When I first walked Rockeries pass, the path on the river terrace leading into the Pass itself (so upstream of Scaly Cave and downstream of Nguza) was vague and quite wooden with many, many cycads. Last time I walked it, fire from dagga clearance had changed the veg to almost entirely grass.
Last edit: 17 Oct 2011 15:32 by tiska.

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17 Oct 2011 16:18 #4397 by Geordie
Replied by Geordie on topic Ntonjelana Pass
Thank you all for the info. I need the track more for calculating distance on a planed "4 passes hike", and of cource, hitting the right spot if the dragons breath comes in.
Passes do change, look at Judges, many years back it was clasified as "Rock" and went up the river cource, now it's all pushed up to the left ( Going Up), fully mule compatable, and with overtaking lanes too.
Look out for more info requests on Fangs, Ifidi and Icidi.

George C

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17 Oct 2011 18:41 #4398 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Ntonjelana Pass
A four pass Mnweni hike sounds like a fantastic challenge, enjoy it. :thumbsup:

There are gps tracks for Fangs, Ifidi and Icidi in the 'Drakensberg Passes' downloads section.

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17 Oct 2011 19:37 #4399 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Ntonjelana Pass
You can get the GPS tracks in this thread .

One of the reasons for the rise of Rockeries Pass a popular smuggling route may have been politics with the two tribes living in the Mnweni. At one time the locals tried to make Ntonjelana impassable for donkeys, which in turn also happened with Rockeries, and is still the case presently, yet they still persist in using it (the donkey's simply get offloaded at that point). On the Lesotho side both passes give access to the Senqu valley and ultimately Mokhotlong (same with Organ Pipes and Tlanyaku), and this is where the goods come from. The choice of exact route is not always that clear to me either. It can also be due to factions and rivalry among the smugglers themselves (apparently they are not all comrades).

It is a good thing to ask the locals for updates when hiking in a particular area. That together with your own observations keeps the rest of us informed.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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17 Oct 2011 20:05 - 18 Oct 2011 10:03 #4401 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Ntonjelana Pass
.
Last edit: 18 Oct 2011 10:03 by tiska.

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17 Oct 2011 21:24 #4402 by Geordie
Replied by Geordie on topic Ntonjelana Pass
Sorry I let this one get off track. Smugglers and I have a great working relationship where we leave eachother be, and my advice to others is to keep it that way.

Now about that gps track?

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17 Oct 2011 21:34 #4403 by Geordie
Replied by Geordie on topic Ntonjelana Pass
Thanks Intrepid

Picked it up on the thread.
George C

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27 Aug 2013 18:24 #58271 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Ntonjelana Pass
On the August long weekend, elinda, Richard Hunt, Thora and tonymarshall descended Ntonjelana Pass after our epic ascent of Nguza Pass. We had overnighted in Easter Cave the previous night, with the intention of descending Christmas Pass, but ended up descending Ntonjelana Pass. From the top of the pass (and much of the upper reaches) fantastic views of the Cathedral Range can be seen.



Ntonjelana Pass is one of the few northern ‘berg passes which can be used by donkeys over the entire length of the route, with the result that the pass has a wide, eroded trail. The pass itself starts from the top, and a path zigzags down through the short steep section. There are numerous skulls and bones of donkeys that didn’t make it over this rocky section.



The rocky, steep, gully section of the pass is short, before the route flattens out and traverses out to the left,



passing between some interesting rock formations.





While on the traverse section parallel to the escarpment, the lower section of the route can be seen on the ridge far below.



The path is mostly flattish down the ridge, with a multitude of paths in places.



There are also some steeper, eroded zigzag sections. The gully to the right of the photo below is South Saddle Pass.

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27 Aug 2013 18:27 #58272 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Ntonjelana Pass
The path follows the crest of the ridge in the final descent into the Ntonjelan ephumalanga valley. There is a strong drip at the top of the pass, with no water on the pass until the river crossing.



A view back up the ridge.



The hikers path descends quite steeply down to the river crossing, with the route used by the donkeys following the right side of the valley and winding slowly up and over the ridge in the background of the photo below. The route follows the left side of the valley, and the clear paths seen crossing the burnt area to the left of the centre of the photo are not the hiking route.



The path crosses the numerous side streams joining the river in the 5 km or so that the path follows the river.



A view back up the valley to the Cathedral Range.



The valley broadens out downstream, with the path diverging away to the left, with an easy climb up the ridge towards the kraals.



The end of the path at the kraals, where the road starts and the Ntonjelana and Rockeries/Nguza Pass routes meet.



The long walk back along the road (for those with weary legs and sore feet unfortunate enough not to get a ride) to the Mnweni Cultural Centre at dusk is dominated by the Saddle in the background, around which our hike was centred.

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