Sentinel Car Park to Cathedral Peak - Northern Berg Escarpment Traverse

14 Apr 2014 17:33 #60369 by MountainGoat
We (myself & 4 buddies) are doing this route this coming easter weekend.

2 'veterans' & 3 newbies (to the route)

Plan is to start hiking the Thursday afternoon at around 15:30 -16:00 & head to the bilanjil valley for the night.
I actually wanted to leave a bit later & do a moonlit ascend of the gulley.
Well, maybe next time (in the snow)

From there on we'll head past Icidi on to Mbundini / Fangs / Rwanqa pass & sleep there for the second night. Any other nice(r) options?

We're planning on sleeping in Mponjwane cave the 3rd night & in Twins cave the last night (Sunday) before descending Mlambonja pass to the Hotel for some ice cold beer & a good meal B)

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14 Apr 2014 22:10 #60372 by ASL
Awesome route! I'm seriously jealous but my family would disown me if I hauled off for the Easter weekend.

Hope you guys have a great time. Be safe and have fun. B)

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26 Apr 2014 17:29 #60489 by dunmor
Can anyone tell me what the approximate distance from the "Sentinel Car Park to Champagne Castle" is to the "Grand Traverse" ie what the percentage is?
I'm doing this hike with 3 friends and was wondering what distance of the berg we are covering

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26 Apr 2014 18:46 #60491 by Stijn
From Sentinel Car Park to the summit of Champagne Castle is 80km. So just less than 40% of the full traverse to Bushman's Nek.

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26 Apr 2014 18:49 - 26 Apr 2014 18:50 #60492 by Smurfatefrog
About 85km, so 40%

edit: or 80km as Stijn says ;) Obviously depends on the route you take, so it could probably be between 75 & 90
Last edit: 26 Apr 2014 18:50 by Smurfatefrog.

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26 Apr 2014 18:59 #60493 by dunmor
Thanks for the info.
I somehow thought it was further.

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27 Aug 2014 22:24 #61619 by Shacks
Hi
I am planning to walk from sentinal car park to cathedral peak hotel.We are a group of 5 or 6 people.We plan to leave joburg very early Thursday 13 dec and get to cath peak hotel late 16 dec.we should start from car park about 8am.Is it possible to do mini traverse in 4 days.I do not now area or where to sleep.would prefer caves and sticking to scenic route.prefer not too make it a route march also as taking our older kids.is it possible to get an itinary for the 4 days.have to be back at work joburg 17th monday.would have to organise lift from hotel back to car park.will get gps and have maps.will take tent for emergency amongst all of us.have hiked to top of tugela falls and up rockeries and down mweni.would appeciate any help!
Thanks Neil

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28 Aug 2014 10:22 - 28 Aug 2014 10:37 #61620 by intrepid
Hi Skacks and welcome to VE.

In the Drakensberg Hiking category there is a sticky post which is the official thread for the Northern Berg Mini Traverse. I will be merging your post with that thread.

Certainly 4 days is attainable and it can even be done in less time. The question always is, is your particular group up for it? - and that is a difficult judgement to make on a forum. From the information you have stated about your group, it does not sound like you have a lot of Berg experience - this is definitely going to count against you for doing it in 4 days. You might be fit enough, but the navigation is going to cost you time and mental energy.

I also think you are going to have to compromise on some of your requirements. To get an inexperienced group along a scenic variation, sleeping in caves the whole way, and for it not to be a "route march" (if I understand that correctly), and all of that in 4 days - I'm not convinced this is realistic.

I would definitely recommend for your group to have adequate tents. Do not count on always finding the caves, do not count on making your target every day, and do not count on them providing perfect shelter.

I would try and avoid having a first day that is overly hard. Make the second and third day the hard, long days. Getting to the Ifidi area on day 1 is normal for a 5 day itinerary. You should push for the Icidi area however and that would best be done by going inland a bit and letting go of the scenic route idea. Day 2 you should get through to either Pins, or (first prize option) the Rockeries area (thinking about caves), and on day 3 you should reach Easter Cave from where you can finish via Mlambonja Pass on the last day. You can make life a lot easier for yourself by taking the inland short-cut to the Fangs area via the "Khubedu Shunt" - that will involve letting go of seeing the Ifidi-Icidi-Stimela escarpment.

Hope this helps and good luck.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 28 Aug 2014 10:37 by intrepid.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shacks

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01 Mar 2015 11:47 #62912 by Laila1492
Hi all!

I would like to ask around for a little advice on how to proceed with one of the hikes i plan on doing - namely the northern Drakensberg mini traverse, the one starting from Sentinel Car Park and ending at the Cathedral Peak (most likely this route: www.spanafrican-adventures.co.za/drakensberg-guided-hiking/overnight/high-berg/mini-traverse/route-description.html ).

My main problem here is fairly logistical:

1) if we rent a car, and start at Sentinel Car park, leave the car there, and end up at Cathedral Peak hotel, how do we get back to the car?:) Is there another option of doing this trek if you don't rent a car, which can be cheaper? i ask because i have already spoken at amphitheatre backpackers and they said they do offer transport in a shared minivan, to and from the exit and entry points on the trail, but that means 3600 ZAR, which is really expensive for us:(

2) Is there another option of doing day hikes and moving around with the car, maybe? We would prefer overnight in our own tent, not guided, so i am open to any suggestions in case you guys have any ideas

3) In the case of the mini traverse, i understand we'll be going close to the Lesotho border, but will we be actually getting into Lesotho? Cause while i will have my passport with me, my country needs a visa, which is expensive, and which i can't get in my own country, i would have to send my passport to Rome, Italy, for that, which is not an option:)

Now i have one last question - how safe it is for two people like us to travel alone during the trek, in terms of the local people we will meet? We've got enough experience outdoors to deal with nature, but how about people, is it ok if we travel just the two of us ( boyfriend and me) or do we risk getting robbed or something? Many many thanks for your help in advance!

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02 Mar 2015 07:05 - 02 Mar 2015 07:26 #62916 by tonymarshall
Hi Laila1492,

Welcome to VE. When will you be in SA to do the hike?

1)It is a large detour by road from Cathedral Peak to Sentinel Car Park and hence the high cost, although R 3600.00 does seem somewhat too high. Travelling between different Drakensberg hike start/finish areas is generally difficult, and it is advantageous to start and finish your hike at the same place to simplify this.

2)Yes, there are lots of day hike options, and also overnight summit hikes in the Didima/Cathedral Peak area that you could consider. One of them, the Bell Traverse, is a classic and would be the end of the mini traverse. If you are concerned about your safety, this is also one of the safer areas.

3)Yes, you will be in Lesotho, but this is quite normal for Drakensberg hikes, and in this area there is no border control from Lesotho (or South Africa) so I would not be too concerned about not having the visa. Most of us (South African) do not even take our passports with at all in the northern berg summit area.

It is generally safe, provided you adhere to the advice given elsewhere on this forum and avoid camping on top of the Amphitheatre, a theft/incident hotspot area. Read the threads on Drakensberg security so that you are aware of this. The two of you should be okay, although anything could happen to you, it is not that likely that you will be robbed or harmed. Generally you are most likely to come into contact with shepherds, who are lonely and welcome contact with hikers to break their loneliness, and are usually friendly and won't harm you. Gifts for the shepherds also are well received, such as matches, cigarettes or food, and are often exchanged for photos of/with the shepherds. The other people you may come into contact with are the smugglers, but they will generally avoid contact with hikers.

I would be happy to provide more details should you require more information, and to answer any other questions you may have.
Last edit: 02 Mar 2015 07:26 by tonymarshall.

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