Thamathu Pass

07 Apr 2009 19:59 #403 by JonWells
Thamathu Pass was created by JonWells
Im thinking of doing a hike up Tomathu pass in a few weeks and camping a night on the top. I would like to know if a passport is necessary, and also if there is water available at the top of the pass. Thanks for any help!

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07 Apr 2009 21:31 #404 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Thamathu Pass
I've never been asked to produce my passport there, but theoretically since it is a proper border post they could ask you at any time, so its better to take one with. But they are used to hikers and it's not like the border is right there, it's further away. There is no Lesotho counterpart border post where you are going either.

Not sure that there would be much water directly at the summit of the pass at this time of year, but I don't think you'll struggle to find water a short distance further in, from the Thamathu River flowing into Lesotho.

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

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10 Apr 2009 11:03 #406 by JonWells
Replied by JonWells on topic Thamathu Pass
Thanks Intrepid! Where would we park the car, at the police station itself? Also do I take it that there wont be any formal cave booking system or overnight charges?

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14 Apr 2009 18:31 - 14 Apr 2009 18:31 #408 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Thamathu Pass
There is a KZN Wildlife office a short distance before the border post, on the right. This is also the place where you can park the cars. The area falls under the management of the Garden Castle office. So the normal bookings and fees apply, except that you would phone the Garden Castle office (033-701 1823) since the Bushman's Neck office has no phone. Enjoy!

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 14 Apr 2009 18:31 by intrepid.

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05 May 2011 10:19 #74263 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Thamathu Pass
Rating:* * * (1/10)Difficulty of the pass is...

This must be the easiest pass in the entire berg (yes, easier than the Chain Ladder route) as it tops out at only 2500m after an easy trundle up a Little Berg ridge. Thamathu Pass is used as the descent route for the Grand Traverse but it's certainly worth doing when you're feeling like a pretty chilled hike. The views of Thaba Ngwangwe and the Devil's Knuckles are impressive and some interesting rock formations can be seen on the way up.

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25 May 2011 07:50 #2969 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Thamathu Pass
It looks like my day hike up Mashai Pass to Mlambonja isn't happening (not that I am particularly surprised, it would be about the 12th day hike I have planned in the last year that was cancelled). In its place I am considering going up Thamathu Pass, climbing Thaba Ngwangwe and coming down Bushman's Pass (we would overnight in Thamathu Cave).

Does anyone have any tips about this area, security, do we need to do a night patrol, do we need to purify the water, how good is the path?

I hear this route is really easy, would a person who struggled to do Bannerman Pass (and for that matter he also complained a lot about the Bannerman Hut trail) be able to do this hike? The reason he would be joining on this hike is that he would never be able to do Mashai Pass (which is definately harder than Bannerman Pass) as a day hike.

The plan would be to set up my 3 person tent in the cave (to provide extra warmth and prevent locals from being able to pick up any of our things from out packs). I see the cave is at 2300m, it is clearly winter now so this does impact on what we will need. How cold does it normally get at this altitude at this time of the year? (I have never done an overnight hike in winter, only November, December, January, February and April). The Underberg weather forecast for the weekend is warmish (about max 17). What level of warm equipment is needed for this, will a -5 survival rating bag, a warm jacket, gloves and beanies surfice or what level of equipment will we need. (I have thermal inners, a thermal fleece and a bag liner, but the other guys in the group wouldn't have this kind of thing, probably only a few long sleve shirts and a raincoat (the 1 guy has a Russian army jacket which weighs a ton but would probably be good enough).

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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25 May 2011 08:43 #2970 by JonWells
Replied by JonWells on topic Thamathu Pass
Hi Ghaznavid

I stayed in Thomathu cave a few weeks ago. To answer your questions:

1) Security- We had zero issues, didnt see any Basuthos
2) Water- There is a stream running next to the cave, its clean and safe, but others have suggested that you should perhaps be wary of water on the escarpment as it is a grazing area
3)Path- There is a very good path all the way to the escarpment
4)Difficulty- I havent done Bannermans before, but have done Mashai. Thomathu Pass doesn't remotely compare, its not even really a pass, just a path up to the escarpment. Just out of interest, did your companion do Bannermans with a pack? If they did they should have no problem doing Mashai as a day hike with no backpack.
5) I dont think it would be necessary to set up a tent in the cave, it has a well sheltered sleeping area in the corner, with stone walls to keep out the wind, so I'm sure a -5°C bag will be fine.

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25 May 2011 09:28 #2972 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Thamathu Pass
Thanks for the info, he did do Bannerman Pass with a pack (but thats literally all we did on the day, up and down Bannerman pass, thats 6km total (from Bannerman hut back to Bannerman hut), and only 800m up and 800 down, Mashai on its own is 1km longer, 200m higher and not nearly as well designed as Bannerman (on the entirety of Bannerman Pass you must descend about 20m total as opposed to that consistent up and down in the first km of Mashai)). Mashai Pass was the first pass I ever did in the berg, I was very unfit at the time but did it without a pack, maybe he will be able to do it, I will have to see what happens!

Do you have any pics of what the pass looks like by any chance? I have been trying to find some on the net but had no luck.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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25 May 2011 18:33 #2977 by JonWells
Replied by JonWells on topic Thamathu Pass
This is about the best pic I could find to give you a rough idea. It was taken from Thomathu cave, and shows the last bit of climbing. From the top of this hill its pretty flat for about 1.6km to the escarpment

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27 Sep 2011 09:05 #4168 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Thamathu Pass
How many does Thamathu Cave actually sleep?

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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