The Mt Aux Sources - Amphitheatre - Tugela thread

27 Nov 2009 22:36 #767 by intrepid
The car park can only be accessed from the Phuthaditjhaba side. From the Bergville side you could park at Royal Natal and walk up to Witsieshoek Resort, from where you follow the remainder of the road to the car park - this is somewhat a historical route. But this is not really a day hike option. Other than that you can access the Amphitheatre from the Mweni - Ifidi and Icidi Passes being the most direct approach. But these are serious passes and it would be a multi-day trip.

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

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17 Dec 2009 17:11 #787 by zen101
Some of my friends and I want to to a hike up to sentinel peak again , I would prefer not to go via the chain ladders as i've done this too many times and looking for a different route that will not take longer than 2- 3 days return.

Is his possible in this timeframe? (No we are not adventure racers :-) hence 6 -7 hours walk time per day avg I guess.
Where would the starting point be

Any ideas would be appreciated.


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17 Dec 2009 19:51 #789 by intrepid
See these threads:

There are 2 alternatives:

1. Hike up from RNNP via Basutho Gate and use Beacon Buttress Gully.

2. Namahadi Pass or Barricade Pass (which lies between Namahadi and the Chain Ladders - this is my own name for it due to a stone barricade built across the gully near the top). Both these passes are ideal 2-3 day options, starting from Witsieshoek Resort, and using Suai Cave as an overnight spot at the base. Be aware of and stay away from Sotho initiation schools, which take place during the holidays around Fika Patso Dam - from my own experience they don't like visitors.

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

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17 Dec 2009 22:17 #790 by zen101
Insane, thanks a million.

I feel like an idiot not searching on the forum first.

Till next time :-)

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10 Sep 2010 17:09 #1707 by temp1e
I want to combine 2 trails in one. Thugela gorge walk and Mount-aux-source summit ascend. I made a lot of researches and came here with several questions that are left unanswered.

So here is my plans along with my questions:

First I'm interested to know where ends the good rood coming from Bergville. How is the road up to Thendele camp? My car is going to be a very cheap hired one (Chevrolet Spark class). I believe that its wheels are 13" so it's not the best off-road vehicle :)

Second I found that between Thendele and bottom of the falls are 7km mostly on flat terrain. How far is Mahai from Thendele (This is in case I have to leave my car at the parking there)?

Third My detailed itinerary for the first part are going to be. Getting one hour or even 1:30 before the dawn. Moving to where I can with a car and do the walk. I want to be at sun rise at the falls bottom. If it's only 7km. It's really a short walk for me. (estimated one way time is 1 hour). I will need 30-40 minutes for photos also. So roughly I must make this for 2:30-3 hours. This means that maximum at 10 o'clock I can start moving toward mount-aux-sources. Does this leave me with enough time to do the climb considering the place where I'm (Mahai)?

4th How to reach Sentinel Car park? I've noticed the big circle that I have to do from RNNP to Sentinel park if I use the car (google expected time is be 2 hours driving). Here on the forums there are walking trails. There are 2 mentioned paths from Mahai camp via Basuto gate to Witzieshoek Resort and from Mahai via the Neck to Sentinel Car Park road. They have a gps tracks also. The second path is stated closed. How is the current condition with those 2 paths? I hope at least one of them is opened so I don't need to drive 2 more hours.

3-4 things I need to know in general:
- Does the RNNP office have a working time and Can I enter if the office is closed? In my travel guide I found that only 50 people can climb to mount-aux-sources daily. Is this limitation true and how they count the people wishing to go there?
- How well are marked the trails there. I really don't need marks for my first part as it winds around the river. Is it easy to follow the path (Sentinel Car Park to the top of the summit) If it is not marked?

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10 Sep 2010 20:43 - 10 Sep 2010 20:47 #1708 by drsnoobab
:woohoo: Hi There

Good to see you have done your research, but herewith some comments and recommendations:

The entire road from Bergville right up to Thendele is tarred and should be no problem for your hired car. There is parking very close to Thendele, right at the start of the Tugela Gorge Trail.

I would strongly recommend against attempting both routes in one day. The Tugela Gorge will give you 14km and the Summit walk will be a further 20-25Km making close on 40Km for the day, including some significant altitude gains from about 2000m to 3000m. One would then have to camp on the summit overnight, or return adding yet a further 20-25Km, which to my mind would be excessive and dangerous.

I would hesitate to call the Tugela Gorge route flat. Rather it is at a sustained gradient uphill most of the way which can prove strenuous depending on your fitness levels. I would rather work on two to three hours each way, especially if you want to take in the views, take photographs and not exhaust yourself. I would suggest 4 to 6 hours for the round trip bearing this in mind.

You can then drive back down to Mahai and park / camp there. The hike from Mahai to Mont-Aux-Source is a good 20-25Km one way. The first half of the route is again at a sustained but pleasant gradient, but gets steeper as you approach Witsieshoek. Later on after that the path ascends past Sentinel Peak and can be steep, whilst the altitude also becomes tiring. As mentioned above you would have to choose to camp overnight, or return making for a very very long day which I would strongly discourage. If you choose to camp overnight please read the security recommendations elsewhere on this forum.

As a recommendation I would suggest you set aside one day for the Tugela Gorge route and then relax the rest of the day at Mahai Campsite. Thereafter if you are equipped for the overnight route (and not alone) you can do the long hike to the summit, overnight and then return. Many, if not most, people would rather drive to the Sentinel Car Park and do the summit walk from there which makes for a decent one day's hike. The road to Sentinel is for the most part fine, but (its been a while since last there) deteriorates near the top. However I expect it would still be okay in a hired car ;)

Finally whilst the RNNP hikes are generally very popular especially over weekends I would recommend taking extra care if you are hiking alone. I would certainly not recommend the Summit route to be done alone !
Last edit: 10 Sep 2010 20:47 by drsnoobab.

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11 Sep 2010 10:47 #1709 by anthony
drsnoobab B)

Right on the money.
The road up to the sentinel car park is in quite a good condition at the moment, that might change after the first good rains though.

As mentioned be aware of the security risks on the escarpment if you intend to stay the night,during the day there should be no problem at all.

Enjoy ,it is realy a remarkable place. :)
And believe me those mountains are big.

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11 Sep 2010 18:18 #1710 by temp1e
Thank you very much for replies.

well I'm still in researching. I have another options but I really prefer to do both trails in one day. As on the other I can do a payed Lesoto cultural trip. Skipping this trip is an option if I'm convinced I can't do Thugela gorge and Mount-aux-sources.

From what I've learned so far I'll not attempt to do Mahai-Mount-aux-sources. Let's move to the other option left.

Thugela gourge in the morning (14 km). Questions on this part:
- Can I enter the park in the very early morning?
- Can I reach thendele hutted camp with a car?

Move to sentinel car park and attempt to reach the summit from there. I'll rest quite a bit while driving to Sentinel (2 hours driving). Questions:
- In the early November are the roads going to be good still?
- How much km are from Sentinel to the top?
- What is the attitude of the Sentinel car park.

I found gps tracks here in the site which are going to help me a lot. Is it easy to get lost there without gps tracks?

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11 Sep 2010 22:39 #1711 by bigberg
look its gota be the most strange combination in one day iv ever heard but the fact that u can stand at the bottom and top of tugela falls in one day sounds cool.

some tips.
The royal natal park like other parks opens at sun rise and closes at sun set. so unless u camp over night u will not get that early morning start.
and the roads to thendele hutted camp are fine with a car.

for sentinel
the last 7km is gravel and its ok with a car its compacted nicely.
car park is around 2600m i think. and to the top is around 5 km.

the best way to do it to me is sentinel 1st gorge 2nd. reason being Mount-aux-source sentinel hike u can start any time.

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12 Sep 2010 15:22 #1712 by SeriousTribe2
@ Tempe1e

Lots of advice going on here, which is good for research!

Could you let us know the reason that you wish to take this route to the summit?
What is your level of fitness?
Have you hiked / climbed in the Drakensberg before?

(Before i give my two cents worth)

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