One day of our South Africa trip was dedicated to one of the outdoor activities we love the most: hiking. Mountains are always very appealing to us, and since South Africa has some quite high and beautiful ones, we couldn’t have missed such an experience.
The Drakensberg Mountains lie, in South Africa, at the western border of Lesotho, with highest peak, Thabana Ntlenyana at 3482 meters.
For our hiking day we chose the Royal Natal National Park, staying for 2 nights at the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge. This was quite a wise choice for accommodation, as most of the hiking trails start just from behind the lodges.
Not to mention that the Amphitheater and the Sentinel Peak were also right behind the lodges, and waking up with an amazing view in front of our eyes, was quite breath-taking.
Our initial plan was to do the Chain Ladder trail, but unfortunately the weather was quite bad and there was some rain supposed to happen in the afternoon, so we decided instead to go for a shorter and easier trail.
In the end, we still spend about 8 hours on the hiking trails, as we got a bit lost on our way. It seems that the hiking trails in this part of the world are not too good signed (or at least this was the situation with the trail we chose), and we missed a very important turn at one point, that actually got us to get lost. So we did lose about 3 extra hours with this deturn.
Luckily enough, we did have a map of the mountains and we managed to find our position and also to find our way back to the lodges.
The hike was not very difficult, it was actually a nice walk on the mountain paths, with nice waterfalls and cascades, with seeing some deer running around. Still, it was quite hot and we did get a bit of a sun burn on our hands and neck, although we did use protection.
On our way back to the lodge, the trial did take us via a chain ladder, so we did in the end get what we wanted. Only that it had started raining so everything was a bit slippery, but we managed to pass this part without any incidents.
Below is a map of the Royal National Park and the path we took. The red one is the path we should have followed from the start, and the blue one is the wrong turn we took and got a bit lost.
We started by turning right from the lodges and following the path to the Mahai Falls. The lady at the reception told us to always keep left once we’re on the path, but at one point, mesmerized by the view, we took a right turn and got on the blue path that actually didn’t go anywhere.
Normally the red path would take about 5 hours, the last part, climbing up the Crack being a bit more difficult and needing a good condition. For us it was about 8 hours in total, with short breaks for snacks and with getting a bit lost.
A day like this truly gives you a boost of energy and good vibe. Walking on small paths, drinking fresh water from cold rivers, making a bit of effort to get back from where you had left in the morning are things that just manage to clear your mind from everything that would bother it.