Author: mountainmanpioneer

What part of the Drakensberg, South Africa, should you visit?

Deciding on what part of the Drakensberg to visit can be difficult.

I lived in the Drakensberg for over 15 years and of course I have my favourite areas to visit, but here, I'll discuss the regions and their attractions briefly so that, when you decide to visit, you'll have an idea on where to go...

The Northern Drakensberg is located about 300km from Johannesburg and would take about 3-3½ hours by road to travel there. The Royal Natal National Park is located in this region and the most photographed mountain peaks known as the amphitheatre, can be seen from most accommodation options. It is an area well known for its scenic beauty and hikes. There is an adventure centre open to the public, horse rising activities, a golf course and numerous walks. It the area with the best hospitality from the luxury lodges and hotels right down to the B&B's!

The Central Drakensberg spans such a vast area across the Ukhahlamba World Heritage site that I'll have to break it up into 5 regions. When most people talk about the Central Drakensberg they mean the Champagne Valley or Cathedral Peak.


- Cathedral Peak

(4 hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

This is a valley on its own accessed via Winterton or Bergville and only has 3 accommodation options, the KZN Wildlife campsite, the Didima chalets and the Cathedral peak Hotel. This area is home to majestic mountain peaks, waterfalls and excellent hiking trails.


- The Champagne Valley

(4 hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

This valley is a tourist mecca with thousands of beds available and every type of accommodation you could dream of, there are numerous activities, sporting facilities, shops, golf courses and the mountain to climb.


- Injisuthi

(4½ hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

This hidden valley is a must for people wanting to escape the crowds, there is only one camp that offers campsites and cottages for self-catering, serious hikers will enjoy the number of caves and overnight hiking trails in this area.


- Giants Castle

(5 hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

Giant's Castle is named after the mountain peaks that from a distance look like a sleeping giant. It is well known for its Bushman or San cave museum where life-like Bushman / San figures bring alive scenes of an era past. The walks, rock art, scenery and upmarket facilities have made it very popular.


- Kamberg

(5½ hours from Johannesburg, 2½ hours from Durban by road)

Kamberg is located just south of Giants Castle and is home to some of the best Rock art in the Drakensberg and has a new Rock Art interpretive centre which is well worth a visit.


The Southern Drakensberg is located about 250-300km away from Durban and takes between 2½ and 3 hours by road.

The Southern Drakensberg is famed because of the Sani Pass, however there is much more to visit other than the Sani Pass. The two little villages around which you'll find accommodation are Underberg and Himeville. It received more rainfall than the northern regions and thus is lusher, with larger and steadier streams wonderful for those wanting to do fly-fishing. Accommodation is varied and you will find a place to match your taste and budget.

So, even though I think you should make time to visit all the areas of the Drakensberg, I am aware that time can be a problem so I hope this post will help you to plan an Ukhahlamba World heritage Site visit, whether it be for its natural beauty and wilderness or for the cultural experience of its ancient peoples!


A Thru-Hiker Letter to Covid-19

Dear Covid-19,
Leave. Get out of our bodies. Get off trail. You, Covid-19, YOU #stayhome. This is not a request from the PCTA, but a demand from me, a human. Yes, your potential host demands it.
You’ve made hundreds of thousands of my kind sick. You have killed thousands and you aren’t done yet. You have taken people from their jobs, their future. You’ve caused the media to scramble to keep up with the numbers of infected and the stage of “the curve.”
Covid-19, ...

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COVID-19 Contingency Plan: 4 Hikes to Consider

Seeing thru hikers cancel or postpone their hikes due to COVID-19 is heartbreaking. Considering my thru hike of the JMT begins on July 16th, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s cancelled.
In tune with the stoic book “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday, I’ve compiled a list of potential hikes to replace my coveted JMT thru hike should it be cancelled due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 Contingency Plans
1. Timberline Trail
The Timberline Trail is 41.5 mile thru hike loop that circles Mt. ...

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The Trail Is Gone and So Am I

28 March 2020 – Some updates
I wrote most of the post below in Hiawassee during and after my decision to postpone my thru-hike. I have edited and elaborated for clarity since then.
Today, most of my tramily is off the trail. At the moment, I am self-quarantining at home and enjoying books I picked up in Hiawassee. Getting outside is my priority, but it’s difficult to practice social distancing when others are seeking solitude in similar places. ...

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Backpacker Radio 66 | Drunk Q&A with Badger & Chaunce

ackpacker Radio is making good on their promise to get weird.  Today we bring you a drunk Q&A.  Backpacker Radio’s new intern, Elise Ott (hi, that’s me), navigates us through a series of questions, including COVID-19, how we’re handling the self-quarantining, a lot of poop related subjects, thru-hiking purism, and much more.  At the top of the show, one of Chaunce’s friends gives us the poop story to end all poop stories.  This one is our most feral podcasts to date.  ...

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EPA Uses Coronavirus as Excuse to Reduce Regulations for Polluters

During these strange last few weeks of pandemic-induced shelter-in-place orders, toilet paper hoarding and beach closures, one of the few silver linings has been news stories of improved environmental health—from clear waters in Venice, Italy to several consecutive weeks of clean air in Los Angeles—which seem to suggest that everything on the planet (aside from […]

A List of Appalachian Trail Shuttles Available to Help Hikers Get off the Trail

In light of the continuing COVID-19 crisis, we’ve compiled a list of shuttle drivers and services that are still available to assist Appalachian Trail hikers as they leave the trail.
The ATC has put out a series of statements with requests for hikers to postpone their thru-hikes, leave the trail if they’re already on it, and to not use the Appalachian Trail at all—even for day hikes. Different national parks and forests and regional jurisdictions have also closed sections of trail, ...

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