Mashai Pass

01 Jan 2010 11:52 #807 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Mashai Pass
Thanks for the update Jon, I'll get this through to the authorities concerned. Anyone that does encounter this kind of thing should ask to speak to the Officer in Charge at the KZN Wildlife offices and give them a report. This kind of feedback helps them a lot and it also creates pressure from the hiking community to get something done about it.

Certainly this is not a pleasant situation at all. I've been watched and even yelled at on various other passes, but I get the feeling that the guys around Mashai Pass are getting a little rowdy due to the popularity among hikers. Lets hope this doesn't become like The Amphitheatre and Giants Castle.

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

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02 Jan 2010 11:25 #808 by zen101
Replied by zen101 on topic Mashai Pass
I know this is not related to Mashai pass , but our party went up from sani pass to Thabana Ntlenyana peak on the 30th Dec , encountered several bashuto groups each following us for at least and hour or so each, Most of the time they wanted clothing and cigarettes. I must say the most discomfort was to slog up those final grass slopes whilst trying to maintain conversation/hand gestures.

Reached the peak at 14:30 , set up camp 40 meters below the summit at 3442m . Then two bashuto parked themselves in front of our tent and continued to watch in amazement into one of the two tents. Swinging their sticks in intimidation efforts , my brother and I got out of our tents to negotiate with them, leaving the 2 girls in the tents.

We found the yin yang approach to be quite effective, when they show aggression/imtimidation you make jokes and laugh at EVERYTHING they say.

one of the bashuto pointed at my borther's pocket and asked what that silver thing was and my brother swiftly unflicked his flick knife with a massive quick flick , they 2 bashunto's jumped with fright, but all this happened in good spirit. however subconciously i think they realised that an ambush that night might result in some sort of injury to at least of of them :-)

Now this might sound terrible but it wasn't really all that bad.

In my opinion /my advice is not to argue with them(bashuto), to show friendly nature at all times and to entertain their basic requests even though its irritating, when they step over the line its important to react in an unpredictable way so that they start questioning their own safety, now this must be subtle and non threatening - like removal of some sort of weapon from your pack and placing it into another pack.. just something subtle. Anyways this worked very well for us in a almost unpleasant situation.

We slept up top without any hassles... and then the mountain is also there to protect one.. raiding a campsite at 3440m at 3 in the morning is going to be very unpleasant.

My point i guess is, sleep as high and as cold as possible, this is natures defense against intruders :-)

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05 Jan 2010 16:25 #830 by plouw
Replied by plouw on topic Mashai Pass
Two of us did Mashai pass about 2 weeks ago. What a pleasant pass, started at 5am and was back in camp at Garden Castle at 12am in perfect weather. The path was fairly straight forward, and we only encountered one Basotho with his hunting dogs. He was waiving and screaming at us from the cliffs, seemed like a bit of a lunatic. And for the baboons at the campsite, there was a guard on duty to chase them away. :P So I guess sometimes people just have bad luck. :(
I was disgusted though to find about three empty gas canisters and lots of empty packets (hiking food) at the rock slide close to the top of the pass. I’m starting to wonder if we’re not unfairly always blaming the Basotho’s for the litter on the Berg?
Two days before this, we also happened to spend two nights on the Amphitheater about 100m from the hut. (with no Basotho incident at all, lucky again) ;)
The state of the hut is disgusting, and all the wrappers and rubbish are from hikers! I will post some photos soon!

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06 Jan 2010 16:19 #836 by Klipspringer
Replied by Klipspringer on topic Mashai Pass
plouw, what was the state of the hut apart from the rubbish? Are there any window panes that need repair etc?

It struck me at Sentinel hut, that even though it is occupied and regularly serviced (Coal for the watchmen, water etc) nobody bothers to arrange that the window panes are repaired, some cardboard has to do...

Furthermore, who is the body in charge of maintenance for these huts on the mountain, I take it they rely a lot on volunteers?

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06 Jan 2010 16:58 #840 by plouw
Replied by plouw on topic Mashai Pass
klipspringer, i took quite a few photos of the hut, will post it soon.

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06 Jan 2010 21:47 #841 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Mashai Pass
Ever since the QwaQwa guards left the Amphitheatre hut it has always had rubbish left in it by hikers - its been like that for years. Sad indeed, but a common problem with popular areas of the Berg. Numerous clean-ups have been done over the years. I've also cleaned out large amounts of trash from Sentinel Cave more than once. The hut has been there for quite some time and was originally fully furnished and equipped for hikers. There was also a steel cable guiding hikers from the chain ladder to the hut (in bad weather). This of course was stolen by the shepherds. This hut falls under RNNP and is thus KZN Wildlife's responsibility. The one at Sentinel Car Park falls under a local tribal authority and the money collected from visitors should be going towards maintenance.

As for rubbish left by hikers on Mashai Pass - that is very wrong indeed, but again, something not uncommon in popular parts of the Berg. My friends and I always collect rubbish on our trips to the Berg. We've literally had big bags full strapped to our packs before. If you encounter rubbish like this I encourage everyone to do 2 things: 1) pick it up and carry it out, and 2) report it to the authorities (and even show it to them) and in this way maintain an active interest and support from hikers for them to keep addressing the problem.

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

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06 Jan 2010 22:36 #842 by domsmooth
Replied by domsmooth on topic Mashai Pass
With regards maintenance of huts (from an EKZNW perspective), I have been asked to return to Giants hut to revisit (some will remember the story I posted about the hut having burnt down and the pictures posted here )the hut. As the authority mandated to manage the World Heritage Site, EKZNW are trying to maintain structures within the area. However, doing it correctly, within the ambit of being an Authority is trying. The thought is to withdraw all unnecessary infrastructure from the WHS. This would include things like the border post at Sani (currently undergoing a massive EIA, and causing grey hair for all those involved!), associated with the upgrade of the road itself of course.... as well as other unnecessary infrastructures.

The hut at the amphitheater itself is an interesting case since both governments are prone to claim responsibility of the land (RSA claims all land eastwards of the watershed, and Lesotho all areas westwards of the escarpment), but when it comes down to maintenance each are happy enough to pass the buck... I will enquire as to the responsibility for the hut in the amphitheater, but am not convinced that much will happen in a hurry, as per the Sani Pass rubbish dump (Another area where both Govts want the land but not the issues...). This should soon be resolved, but until the 2 Govts resolve the MDTP (Maloti Drakensberg Transfontier Park) and WHS issues, and give EKZNW authority to handle non-compliance with the IDP (Integrated Development Plan), this will remain an issue as to mandate and compliance. For those concerned about it, rest assured that things are afoot, as fast as politics allow and as fast as we can push them, although we are under constant scrutiny from the public. We are trying to get things going!

I will however enquire about the Amphitheater hut and post back here with the outcome...

Lets all help maintain the values for which the Berg was proclaimed a World Heritage Site

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07 Jan 2010 08:45 - 07 Jan 2010 08:54 #854 by plouw
Replied by plouw on topic Mashai Pass
Klipspringer, here's some photos of the Amphitheatre hut:

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Something else that concerned me on this hike to the Amphitheatre was how badly the paths are maintained! The stream is basically flowing down the pathway and eroding about half a meter deep in places. This is a very popular route and should be maintained!(even the erosion on the gravel road to the parking is shocking, with deep trenches forming on the inside edge of the road)
The local tribal authority could send one person up there with a shovel on a daily basis to build little bumps and outlets similar to that of a well maintaned gravel road.

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Last edit: 07 Jan 2010 08:54 by plouw.

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07 Jan 2010 21:18 #868 by domsmooth
Replied by domsmooth on topic Mashai Pass
Thanks for the feedback Plouw. I agree that (from the pics anyway) the path is in a shocking state! It is always a concern in high rainfall areas such as the Berg, that the erosion you are seeing may be from a couple of summer storm events, and possibly long term neglect. This is part of the reason EKZNW emplore hikers to stay on the existing paths and not create new ones. Try get that into the Basotho's heads though, who just make new paths wherever suits them....

Lets all help maintain the values for which the Berg was proclaimed a World Heritage Site

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14 Jan 2010 16:02 - 14 Jan 2010 16:04 #892 by MK9
Replied by MK9 on topic Mashai Pass
On the topic of the Mashai Pass...

A pair of us went up there to visit the Rhino Peak on the 30thDec 09.
The pass was in good shape, however there was a rock fall near the very top.
The path went left of this and was a little vague at times.

We met a small pose of Basutho who seemed happy to play their 5L oil can guitar and watch their cattle. We met another 2 on the way down, they were heading back to Lesotho...I wonder what they were up to... :unsure:

I took 4hrs up and 3,5hrs down so we were back in time for lunch :cheer:
Last edit: 14 Jan 2010 16:04 by MK9.

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