The Mt Aux Sources - Amphitheatre - Tugela thread

12 Nov 2010 09:11 #2025 by mike

I last checked Crows Nest Cave about 2 months ago and it was in pretty good condition.
The little hole to the far left of the cave had been used as a toilet by 1 individual but it wont effect you in the cave.

We were going to sleep in it but had to descend due to lack of water on the escarpment but you shouldnt have that problem this time of year :lol:

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12 Nov 2010 15:42 #2028 by intrepid
Hi VK, sleeping in a cave does offer a slight advantage than a tent in terms of security, in that you can stash your gear at the back of the cave and sleep in front of it. That way they cant simply grab your stuff and run off like they do with tents. They may hang around the cave while you are there though, which can be a nuisance, but generally the theft is of a timid, non-confrontational, non-violent nature in that area.

Whoever used that annex cave as a toilet, shame on you for your selfishness and short-sightedness (and I hope you read this)!

ST2: the hut locked? That must be a fairly new thing?

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

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12 Nov 2010 15:53 #2029 by SeriousTribe2
@ Intrepid

Its either been locked or full of official looking raisins when we've been up.
Was last up there some years ago though - its a bit on the busy side for me, and i'm not too keen to get my boots sullied.

Maybe the unlocked thing has something to do with the new policy of "allowing the landscape to reclaim them".


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12 Nov 2010 15:58 #2030 by SeriousTribe2

There ya' go mate. A short walk and its sounds like you will enjoy a nice shiny cave.
Mike kindly made the trek to check it out for you.
Just make sure you've got a bottle full of water.

NOTE. The 'TOILET' is out of order. So please don't use it.


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01 Dec 2010 16:40 #2073 by temp1e
20 days ago the hut wasn't locked but it is not convenient for sleeping there. Read my post about the hut conditions.
Car park is secured. There is a person all the time there and it was very polite.
Overall I don't understand why you want to spend the night there. The walk to the top is very short. You can easily walk everything on the top for 5-6 hours including a Mount-aux-sources and full panoramic walk on the edge of the Amphiteater.

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02 Dec 2010 08:19 #2075 by intrepid
@temp1e: so it did it go? How was the weather? Did you get the view of the falls you were after?

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

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03 Dec 2010 15:05 - 03 Dec 2010 15:09 #2077 by temp1e
yes, I went to the falls.

First I want to thank you all for the help. It was very easy to orientate in the mountains thanks to you.

Regretfully It was cloudy and rainy all the day. The wind was very strong also. Overall temperatures were not a joke also.

So my plans were to start as early as possible. I traveled 2 hours from Aphiteater backpackers to Sentinel Car Park and started my ascend to the top in 6 o'clock. The walk to the top is short but I hoped for better weather so I decided to do a long walk. I climbed Crow's Nest. Than I visited Mount-aux-sources (my highest peak so far). Than I moved toward Devil's Tooth and almost reached it. Than I returned on the Amphiteater edge. Tugela falls was mostly in clouds. There were a few windows (because of the strong winds) where I could see the fall but still not the best day for pictures. Getting near the hut I decided to enter and stay there hoping for a better weather. I stayed 30 mins there but I began to freeze because there were no windows and I was not moving. So at this time I decided to go back to the park. Returning back I noticed at least 5 more falls that appeared from the rain. Overall I'm very satisfied with views but not with conditions. I believe I found the viewing spots I needed. At 12 o'clock I returned to the park and entered the guard house. I spoke with the guard for 1 hour (hoping for the sun). I would climb again to the top if the sun showed. At 1 o'clock I started my drive back. I did a few pictures around Sterkfontein dam which took me some time. Around 4 o'clock I was back near the Royal Natal main entrance. But It was still raining and late for Tugela gorge walk. So I decided to skip it for tomorrow in hopes for better weather. The rain stopped for a few hours in the evening but in the morning the rain started again and I decided to move to Johannesburg. Beside the rain there one more thing that made me change my plans. I bought a new camera in South Africa which does an irritating noise. I'm not sure if it is because I exposed it to the rain on top of the plateau or I bought it that way but I wanted Fuji technical support to investigate the case. They are very unpleasant people. I strongly encourage everyone to NOT buy products from Fuji and especially from foto first shops.

So at the end of the story I'm posting my albums:
Drakensberg pictures are in South Africa directory from number 158 to number 177 if anyone is interested
Last edit: 03 Dec 2010 15:09 by temp1e.

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06 Dec 2010 09:43 #2080 by barvin
Hi guys,

first of all - great forum, a lot of experienced hikers, well done to all!

This January coming from Russia to get the best out of SA. Hiking in Drakensberg is on the agenda. Based on my research in the net, including this site, I decided that the most awarding would be the hike to the top of Ampiteatre via the famous chain ladders.

Will have one full day on the 6th of January. Our plan is to drive to Bergs on the 5th and spend a night at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge (is it the best option, closest to the Sentinel park?) in order to start early in the morning. Some questions to you

1. as I understand January is unpredictable in terms of weather, it can be rainy and cloudy. Do we have a chance to see something from the top of Amphiteatre? if chances are low maybe we should choose some other trail?
2. although the trek is pretty simple we would prefer to take a guide. Is it possible to arrange this in advance? What would you recommend?
3. what time can we expect to come back? My girlfriend never tried hiking before and I want to keep the tempo relaxing.
4. It is not pretty clear how much time we will spend on the top. I understand that there is a chance to do a hike along the escarpment of the Amphiteatre. What time does it usually take?
5. Do you think we should consider spending a night at the top (camping) in order to enjoy sunset? Or it is not worth it (bearing in mind the risks of bad weather and possible security issues)

As far as we want to spend one more night in the Bergs before going to St.Lucia on the 7th of January - what place would you recomend to stay and what to do after the Amphiteatre hike (as I understand we can expect to be back at the Sentinel car park by 4 pm).

Answers to these questions, as well as any other comments would be very appreaciated.

thank you in advance,
p.s. some background about ourselves - young couple from Russia, not experienced hikers, i tried mountaing hiking only once - ascend to the Kinablau mt at Borneo. want to show my girlfriend that hiking could be fun, she is sceptical about this, hope our Berg experience will provide additional arguments;)

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07 Dec 2010 09:15 #2081 by intrepid
Hi barvin and welcome to this community.

Great that you are including the Berg in your tour of SA. Its a treasure that is often overlooked.

To answer your questions.

- Yes, Witsieshoek is the best, closest place to stay if you don't want to drive much in the morning. It is under new management and they are slowly getting it jacked up again (it was getting a bit old and run down). You can sleep at Sentinel Car Park but accommodation is very basic - just a dormitory with bunk beds (no electricity, no food and no bedding).

1. Yes, you most certainly do stand a chance of having beautiful, clear weather even in January. It just can't be predicted accurately. If, a day before your trip, the weather is misty and rainy and the weather report is not good, you may want to consider an alternate hike lower in the valleys.

2. For guides I would consider contacting Sungubala , Ian Shooter , or even Witsieshoek Lodge.

3. Hard to say exactly. But for a very relaxed pace I would consider 3 hours to the top, an hour to relax there and 1.5-2 hours back down.

4. Once you are at the top, the steep bits are pretty much over and it becomes a lot flatter, so you can cover distance quicker. Consider 1-2 hours one way to cross the Amphitheatre from Tugela Falls.

5. Might be worth it to have a real outdoor experience, especially if you have a guide organising all the gear and cooking etc. The security issues up there are more of a pest than they are dangerous - however you might spend a restless night listening for sounds around your tent, thinking it is a Basotho trying to steal your stuff. So consider that too, especially for your girlfriend, if you want her memories and experience to be good.

Places to stay after your hike: Cathedral Peak area is a personal favourite of mine, so consider Didima or Cathedral Peak Hotel (note: both places are pricey). You can also camp there. For a shorter drive after your hike (especially if you finish late) there are many places below the Amphitheatre.

Hope this helps. Please let us know how your plans go, and we always like hearing how it went afterward!

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

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30 Dec 2010 11:24 #2123 by cat-i
what's the road condition up to the car park?
last time i was there (2 years ago) they were paving it, but not all the way - you'd need a car with high clearance and lots of patience.

any idea if the paving's done?
would a micra go up there (without damage)?

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