The Mt Aux Sources - Amphitheatre - Tugela thread

24 Mar 2011 00:41 #2604 by Jarolym
Ugh, no luck with any of those shops.. I'm leaving JHB for Drakensberg the day after tomorrow.. Any chance of getting the map anywhere on the way? (The park entrance, Witsieshoek resort, petrol stations, shops in Harrismith...)

Am I the only person that wants to hike in Drakensberg and still plan ahead, before getting to any of KZN wildlife desks *in* Drakensberg? I guess I was stupid when I thought that the demand for the hiking maps for this attractive area would be sufficient to make book stores / outdoor shops preorder the relevant maps.

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24 Mar 2011 05:54 #2605 by intrepid
Have a look at this scanned image of the old Slingsby maps, it may be of use to you:
www.berg.co.za/amphitheatre1.htm

If you have access to a printer, I could send you a scanned image of the Amphitheatre area from the new maps too. Just send me your email address in a PM.

You will not find maps for sale along the way, nor anywhere within the QwaQwa conservancy (entrance, Witsieshoek, Sentinel Car Park etc).

If you are in Joburg, try getting to Sandton City, Drifters should have them.

For reference, anyone looking to purchase maps online can also get them here:
www.mammothoutdoor.co.za/hiking-maps-c622.html

On sleeping options, you could descend Beacon Buttress Gully and and sleep in the nearby Sentinel Cave. Very good shelter and pretty safe.

Let us know how your trip went.

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

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28 Mar 2011 13:39 #2622 by Jarolym
Hello,

once more, thanks a lot for all your help!
I'm just back from my trip, it was great! The weather was reasonable and the scenery impressive. Very different from what I've seen so far (not much, I admit), and I've learned how it feels to make your own way through the terrain without any trail (I don't consider that hypothetical lines on the map to be hiking trails). I was very happy to have my gps with me, with all the precious data from this site uploaded! I have difficulties to imagine how people could successfully navigate through these mountains without this technology 10 years ago..

I hope to come back soon and to make some decent traverse instead of the (less exciting but more practical) circuit.

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04 Apr 2011 15:39 - 04 Apr 2011 15:41 #2645 by Gwakie
Hey folks
Thanks for a great site, I've been reading through many of the forums and found loads of info advice.
We plan to arrive in the Northern Drakensberg area 29 April late afternoon and depart 1 May.

We are really keen on getting the chance to see something from the top of Amphitheatre and a view of the Tugela falls as well as an overnight in the berg.

1. Please Can you recommend a camp site from where we can start the hike the following morning? I was thinking Mahai or Thendele.
2. Recommend a fairly easy trail from camp to the Amphitheatre (if there are any)
3. As I mentioned we were hoping to spend a night camping in the Berg, where would be the best spot to set up camp? We woudl like to avoid the escarpment and some of the passes due to security reasons - A friend of mine mentioned he was robbed camping next to the mountain hut last year. On the last day we'd like to make our way back to where we parked.. any thoughts ideas?
Last edit: 04 Apr 2011 15:41 by Gwakie. Reason: More Info included

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05 Apr 2011 07:29 #2646 by Serious tribe
Hi Gwakie

Welcome to the forum.

I have camped at the Sentinel car park where there is small hut with bunks, not sure how many it sleeps, though we had a party of 6. If you get there late friday you can sleep over, and that will get you to within 4-6 hours return of the Tugela Falls and it is a moderate grade hike with chain ladders up the one section. You could take an easy day and stay up there for a bit and then come down late afternoon and stay at Witsieshoek Mountain Resort and then drive back on the Sunday.

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05 Apr 2011 09:25 #2648 by shamanjustin
I won't recommend to hike from Mahai or Thendele to the top of the ampitheatre it's 26.5kms from Mahai camp and it's a 1.5km climb in altitute. My fiance and I did it this March and was bit hectic. Best is like said stay at the Sentinal car park or Witsieshoek. Witsieshoek mountain resort is very nice and offer a lift from them to the carpark for R150, that sounds alot till you see the 7km stretch of road.
We enjoyed the Ampitheatre we stayed there 4 nights from Tugela to Ribbon falls and never had problems. The Basutos herdsmen just want cigarettes and sweets when passing them in the mountains.

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05 Apr 2011 18:35 #2655 by intrepid
Welcome Gwakie.

If you want to spend a night out in the mountains in those parts consider sleeping in Sentinel Cave, or at the top of Beacon Buttress Gully (take water with you), or even a couple of hundred meters North of the Chain Ladders at the Elands River Falls (not too far North though cause because you soon run across two passes used by locals). If the crime bothers you do not camp in the Tugela basin. The further away from the Falls and the hut, the better. The theft problem up there has been going on for many years and it happens frequently.

Answering your last question, you can make a loop via Beacon Buttress Gully and the Chain Ladders, but the approach to these will have to be doubled back the way you came. There are passes in QwaQwa a little further North, but I wouldn't consider them for this trip.

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

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28 Apr 2011 13:52 - 28 Apr 2011 13:53 #2769 by Gwakie
Hi Folks
Thanks for the tips and advice... I had to cancel the Amphitheatre plans and will be doing a trip in the Monks Cowl area instead. We're planning to arrive tomorrow in the valley area, a farmhouse very close to Champaigne Castle Resort as our base for the night. Saturday morning head-off towards the Sphinx and Crystal falls and possibly around Champagn or Giants Castle over a two-day trip. I believe there is a Vulture nesting ground in the area?
I'll let you know how my first trip went when I get back Tuesday.
Last edit: 28 Apr 2011 13:53 by Gwakie. Reason: Font Size

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22 May 2011 14:23 #2936 by thomas
Replied by thomas on topic Mont aux Sources
I have not been to the top of MauxS for years and hoped for latest updates. Wanted to spend 1st and 2nd July up top. Is the hut open these days? Is the Sentinel Car Park hut open as well? Going up alone, do they allow that these days? Also, has anyone scambled to the Inner Tower from the Escarpment, curious if that is doable or dangerous? Many thanks,

thomas

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24 May 2011 07:54 - 24 May 2011 08:20 #2958 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Re: Mont aux Sources
Welcome to the forum Thomas.

Yes the car park is still operational and they do allow people up alone (last Thursday a solo Spanish hiker was rescued from the area). The hut on top is open to whoever wants to use it, and is still functional shelter, but it tends to have a lot of litter, inside and outside, and is not always the most cheerful place to sleep. Dig around on the forum for thread on the state of mountain huts - more detail there.

About Inner Tower, I've had two unsuccessful attempts at it from the escarpment, which seems comical given its grade, but its Berg climbing and the grade isn't always totally helpful in assessing a route. I had two different climbing partners on those occasions, and both were totally put off by the grassy pitch right at the start, and then the traverse on the narrow grassy ledge leading to the South East Arete and around the corner to the gully forming the Standard Route. The exposure on this grassy ledge is serious - I would not want to do it unroped and without placing gear. Even the grassy block leading to the ledge - I was kicking footholds into bits of soil and hanging on grass. Getting to the neck between Inner Tower and the escarpment is not too bad. Does involve some minor down-climbing and a traverse across a bit of unstable soil. I'll definitely go back and do it, all 3 summits and also the SE Arete which seems like a fun route, but with gear and with the right people. If you are asking me I wouldn't attempt it solo, but of course its all possible.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 24 May 2011 08:20 by intrepid.

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