Northern Berg escarpment loops from Sentinel Car Park/Amphitheatre

06 Oct 2011 15:23 #4251 by Boerkie
We are a party of 4 doing this trip 4-6 November.

Sentinel Car Park, Chain ladders, Tugela falls, Mount Aux Sources, Ifidi Cave

I have some Q's regarding this trip, please help.

1.What is the state of the hut at the Car park, and fees? Is it worth sleeping there to get a early start?
2.What time does the gate open and close at the car park?
3.Can we pay the hiking fees and vehicle fees at the Car park?
4.What is the fees?
5.What is the best route from the N3 to Witsieshoek coming from JHB? There seems to be a bad patch of potholes en-route to Witsieshoek?
6.Are there any other safe caves in the Amphitheater worth swapping Ifidi for?
7.What sort of weather can typicality be expected early November? (Unfair question, I know :evil: )
8.Is Ifidi one of the caves that need to be booked? If so, where?
9.Nearest water to Ifidi cave assuming it does not rain?

Any other advise would be appreciated.

Anyone else in that area at that time?

Thx

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06 Oct 2011 17:15 #4252 by ghaznavid
I'm hopefully doing Bollard/Willson loop that weekend...

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

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06 Oct 2011 18:07 #4254 by Smurfatefrog

Boerkie wrote: 1.What is the state of the hut at the Car park, and fees? Is it worth sleeping there to get a early start?
3.Can we pay the hiking fees and vehicle fees at the Car park?
4.What is the fees?
5.What is the best route from the N3 to Witsieshoek coming from JHB? There seems to be a bad patch of potholes en-route to Witsieshoek?

1. The bunk beds don't look too bad. Setting up a tent in the car park is also an option
3. You'll need to pay the entrance fees at the gate as you enter the reserve. Not sure about overnight & other fees
4. R60 per person, not sure about overnight fees
5. N3 to Harrismith, R74 towards Phuthaditjhaba, don't follow the R74 towards Bergville, keep going straight. The roads are not an issue at all, the bad section is the part next to Sterkfontein dam going towards Bergville

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06 Oct 2011 19:03 - 06 Oct 2011 19:45 #4255 by tiska
6. Similar caves? Ifidi is your best bet. Other caves are Crows nest - in the heart of the Amphitheatre, but often grubby, possibly occupied and with interest from locals.
7.What sort of weather can typicality be expected early November? (Unfair question, I know :evil: )

Early November - on settled days, up valley winds brings moisture up against the escarpment which condenses to make mist. The mist is kept from spreading over the edge into Lesotho by the westerly winds from Lesotho. On some days the upslope winds will be strong and moist enough for the mist to cover the escarpment by early afternoon though the mist will probably clear by evening. On unsettled days, ridging highs which are pretty active in early Nov, will bring cooler, moister onshore winds and constant mist. These systems clear throuh after 1.5 days on average. Thunderstorms dominate the weather more from Jan to March. On balance, expect some possible morning mist and check the forecast for one of those ridging highs before you leave. They move slowly and are predictable.

8.Is Ifidi one of the caves that need to be booked? No - its part of Mnweni. Ifidi is your best bet if you want somewhere peaceful where you won't be bothered. Note the other threads on Ifidi Cave. There is the proper grand Ifidi (which I have yet to see) and the cave just near the top of Ifidi pass which is a shallow overhang and which many think is the real thing.

9.Nearest water to Ifidi cave assuming it does not rain?
From the rivers draining into Lesotho a few hundred m from the cave. If its been wet in the run up to the trip, then possibly an active drip closer than that.
Last edit: 06 Oct 2011 19:45 by tiska.

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07 Oct 2011 07:46 #4258 by Boerkie
Thanks for the replies guys :thumbsup:

Any other points of interest worth while checking out while up there?

Will the same "no-lights-after-dark" procedure count for Ifidi cave or would it be out of view from locals seeing that your on the escarpment edge facing east?

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07 Oct 2011 07:58 #4259 by tiska

Boerkie wrote: Thanks for the replies guys :thumbsup:

Any other points of interest worth while checking out while up there?

Will the same "no-lights-after-dark" procedure count for Ifidi cave or would it be out of view from locals seeing that your on the escarpment edge facing east?


I wouldn't be concerned about Ifidi Cave for two reasons, one its a cave (not a tent) and two, the main venue for hassles is at the tented camps near the Tugela Falls.

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08 Oct 2011 17:57 #4267 by MountainGoat
I won't be too bothered with the "no-lights-after-dark" in Ifidi. Ifidi is far from anywhere & no point of interest to the locals.

Very nice hike. We did it early this year when it was pouring with rain. Cave was dry.

One of the best cave imo.

Geniet dit

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10 Oct 2011 07:38 #4276 by intrepid
Compare notes with this thread , several questions are answered there already.

2.What time does the gate open and close at the car park?

Don't have to worry too much about the times. The bottom gate where you enter the area is left open at night - just keep your receipt to show them on the way out. The gate at the car park does get locked but just hoot until the guard comes out, or climb over the fence to go call him. Occasionally there is no guard at all and you may have to camp.

9.Nearest water to Ifidi cave assuming it does not rain?

mnt_tiska is spot on. In the rainy season the main Ifidi Cave has very big drips in front. At this time of year you may have to fill up about 200m before Ifidi Pass. After the pass it can be pretty dry.

The main Ifidi Cave is tucked away so I agree with others, chill on the no-lights tactics. The valley leading from Ifidi Pass to the Khubedu has seen theft from tents but problems in the cave are not likely.

Any other advise would be appreciated.

Enjoy and respect the sacredness of the cave and the area.

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

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25 Oct 2011 09:35 #4498 by Boerkie
We are now going on Friday YEEE-HA!!! :thumbsup:

I've had a look at the weather and are baffled by the prediction which seem to change every 6 hours or so. Can someone (mnt_tiska) please shed some light on the predictions for the weekend.

www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Mont-aux-Sources/6day/bot

www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Sentinel/forecasts/3165

There are huge variations between the two forecasts even though they are so close to each other in distance and altitude.

Sunday morning for instance has two very different forecasts:
Snow Forecast site - Light rain (4mm) Max 11 Min 11 15km/h NNW wind
Mountain forecast site - No rain Max 7 Min 5 55km/h WNW wind
:silly:

Either way it looks like a wet one. I just hope for good visibility at some stages.

Anyone else heading that way this weekend?

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25 Oct 2011 12:06 #4499 by diverian
The only climbing I will be doing this weekend is to the top of the stand at Ellis Park, where our seats probably are, to whatch the Sharks beat the Lions .... again...!!!!

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