Sentinel Car Park to Cathedral Peak - Northern Berg Escarpment Traverse

15 Mar 2023 02:10 - 15 Mar 2023 02:11 #78362 by intrepid
Hi Niklas,

I have merged your post to the main thread on the Northern Berg Traverse. Please have a look through the older posts on this thread for more info.

In addition to the download link that Grandeur posted, you can also get our Grand Traverse route download which presents several variations you can take. Combine this with the cave waypoint download and the pass summit download and you have a good dataset to see you through.

Signal: Vodacom is good for the Northern Berg in my experience, even for caves such as Fangs Cave and Pins Cave which are below the escarpment you can get signal close to the caves, at least enough for WhatsApp and SMS. I don't have much experience with the other providers.

Animals: small rodents! Especially in come of the caves. They go for food and can chew through bags and packs.

Water: I doubt it will be much of an issue. Just plan ahead if you are camping at certain caves that tend to be away from running water, and while traversing high ranges (eg Pins Pass area).

Passes: see this page for plenty of info (if you haven't already looked at it).

Inreach: Thread on rental here . If you are interested only in the GPS functionality, then have a look at our Gear topic section , there are two additional threads, one on using your phone as a GPS, and another on apps and maps for GPS use.
 

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 15 Mar 2023 02:11 by intrepid.
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19 Mar 2023 13:07 #78376 by Niklas
thanks again for the replies!! After some more research, I think I'll try to use one of the navigation apps, either all trials or fatmap. Both seems good, but if anyone has experience with this and if one - or both - work fine for Drakensberg area, it would be great with any tips. They can both be used off line for a membership, but I'm interested if the map data are identifcal or if there is any difference in quality.. Thanks!

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05 Sep 2023 18:05 - 06 Sep 2023 07:19 #78701 by Savana
Hi there!

How awesome is that website! I must have been reading this forum for at least a good 40 hours preparing for our first Drakensberg hike. Me and my wife are both experienced multi-day hikers and have chosen to do the Nothern Traverse. We'll be there in the first week of October. Here are the questions I have after spending hours and hours on VE:

1. We'll be 5 days in the Berg, but would like to spend our last one relaxing at Cathedral Hotel. Because of that, we'd like to complete the traverse in 4 days. After reading a lot, I'm actually questioning myself on the first day. Going all the way to Fangs Pass from Sentinel park looks like a bit too much for us, even if cutting through Lesotho. My plan would be to cut through Lesotho and to stop South from Icidi Buttress, near the escarpment (see the blue dot and the photo attached). I haven't seen anyone talking about that spot for a night stop. Would that be a good idea? Could it be dangerous? Any concerns about that plan?

2. How dry were the last months? Could we go one day without seeing a water source or should we consider walking more to get some? We normally start that type of hike with 3L each as we do eat freeze-dried food.

3. I've read a lot (maybe too much) on Drakensberg security. Even though the Northern Traverse looks safe after reading all the comments on this topic, I've read so many attacks/robberies in the Berg that I'm actually questioning myself if the dangerous areas are only the ones shown on this page? drakensberghikes.com/blog/a-guide-to-hiking-in-the-drakensberg Should we be fine outside those red areas or should we always try to sleep in caves?

4. Can we rely on the Gaia app to get a precise distance on hikes in the Berg? (I've already downloaded Northern, Grand Traverse, passes and caves GPX)

5. I haven't seen much about right of access for the Northern Traverse (as we'll be hiking in two natural parks). Are those easy to pay at the beginning of the trek, or should I pay those in advance?

Thank you so much in advance!

 

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Last edit: 06 Sep 2023 07:19 by JonWells.

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06 Sep 2023 07:08 #78702 by Sabine
Hi Niklas,
Enjoy the Northern Traverse and do it in 5 days, rather than 4. You will be cutting corners and not getting the full experience. Rather add an extra day to stay at the hotel. I have done this traverse many times and walking along the escarpment is so worth it. There are some spectacular camping spots. PM me for more info.

There has been a lot of snow on the escarpment recently but am not sure how much is in the rivers, have not been there since before the winter (end of April), when the river at the top of Mnweni was hardly flowing. I have never seen it so dry.

Your blue spot on the map is right on the escarpment, I have not camped there but next to the river below. Safety? It should be fine, however safety in numbers is always better, rather than just two people.

Starting at the Sentinel you pay a certain fee for the northern traverse. You will be entering in the KZN section and it would be a good idea to get a permit from Didima as well before the hike. Mountain Rescue prefers that in case of an emergency.

I don't know about distances on Gaia.
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06 Sep 2023 16:31 - 06 Sep 2023 16:33 #78714 by Serious tribe
Hi NiklausI second the 5 day not 4.  This will be a unique experience for you, and perhaps not one you will repeat soon.  A regards the camp site on icidi buttress.  I would suggest that it is too exposed, and there is a better camp site near the top of Icidi pass.  The views down the pass and toward the mweni area are spectacular as u can see in my attached image.  There is also a small waterfall, which I have named iCidi Falls, which may be flowing where one can have a nice cool off , splash and also to fill up your water containers.  It is wsw of the top of the pass.  In the pass, not far from the top, there is a cave as well as one just to the north of the top of the pass.   Hope this helps.

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Last edit: 06 Sep 2023 16:33 by Serious tribe.
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07 Sep 2023 10:36 - 07 Sep 2023 10:37 #78724 by Riaang
@Serious Tribe,

I can second Icidi falls as being a really nice spot. Wanted to have breakfast there on our recent Ifidi pass hike, but no waterfall available in Aug 2023. Should be melted by now. 

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Last edit: 07 Sep 2023 10:37 by Riaang.

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02 Jan 2024 15:46 #78822 by the climber
Hi Everyone

I am planning on doing the Northern traverse in December this year, but as our group were planning the trip we realised how far it is by car from cathedral peak to sentinel car park (just over 3 hours according to google maps). Our group wil arrive in two cars, one from Durban and one from Pretoria, but how do people usually organise the transport between Cathedral peak and Sentinel? Do you do two 3 hour detours to drive there with one of the two cars and back again afterwards or are there reasonably priced shuttle services from Cathedral peak to Sentinel? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 
 

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02 Jan 2024 17:40 #78823 by Wandelaar
This is always an issue when doing traverse-type hikes. There have been shuttle service providers from time to time, but they come and go and are usually quite expensive. 

I've been confronted with these kinds of logistics twice. The first time we decided to leave one car at the end and take one to the start, but this meant that both cars had to drive both distances fully (Coming from pretoria, driving down to Bushmansneck, leaving one care there, and driving the other back up to Sentinel peak, picking it up again on the way up to PTA with the other car). This is very expensive and tiresome, but ended up being the only viable choice.

The second time we just took a car to Sentinel peak (Witsieshoek) and after arriving in Bushmansneck just winged it, asked around for a lift to Pietermaritzburg (which was an adventure in itself involving a very hospitible white sangoma...) from where we took a bus up to Harrismith where we had left our car (we had someone ride along from Harrismith to Witsieshoek, who then took the car back to Harrismith). As hectic as this sounds, it was actually the less stressful en cheaper of the two strategies. 

I'd also be interested to hear if someone has managed to come up with a more elegant solution. I'm considering a fast GT attempt in March.  

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02 Jan 2024 21:16 #78825 by Smurfatefrog
You can try Champagne Shuttle
www.csch.co.za/
084 581 6492

We used them for a trip from Didima to Monks Cowl a few weeks ago, they charged R2 000 for 8 of us.
Excellent service and comfy transport too
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03 Jan 2024 07:16 #78827 by Drakie1
I am looking for people to join us on a not so fast DGT, starting on the 11th April 2024. Planning a 10 day, unsupported GT. Interested?

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