Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park
The chain ladders that lead to the top of the escarpment on a six day hike through the Northern Drakensberg mountains (February 2017)
Pushing up with your legs is the key here, pulling with your arms takes the ladder off the wall
Arriving at our first camp below Sentinel Peak
Theft is still possible in the Drakensberg depending on who you ask (2017). I wanted the safety of the group and went with Alex Nail.
Distant view of our campsite, which was close to the top of Tugela Falls
Matthias and the Amphitheatre
Tugela Falls, second highest waterfall in the world (3,000ft+)
Alex showing us the polarizer trick, which brought out the colors of the rainbow in the waterfall.
Vertical rainbow on Tugela Falls
We had short distances to cover during the day, usually through open fields without a trail. We would wake up early every morning (4-5am) to climb a hill to watch sunrise.
The Basothos are the locals in the mountains. "The Basotho live in Lesotho and speak Sesotho" is how the rhyme goes. We were hiking in Lesotho here, the country that is surrounded by South Africa.
We had a local guide named Zee and a group of porters to help us. Sabine and my tentmate Matthias are also here staying warm by the fire.
Icidi Pass camp (#2)
Icidi Pass sunrise
On the third day we reached Fangs Pass, certainly one of highlights of the trek
Madonna and her worshipers
Fangs Pass camp (#3)
Alex woke us up when the milky way aligned with the pass
We kinda went back to sleep for an hour before climbing the hill in the dark for sunrise
David, Nathi and Jeffery
This Basotho called me over to take a picture so that he could look at himself on my camera
Thunderstorms were common in the afternoon and evening. Lightning is probably the most dangerous aspect of the hike as the poisonous snakes seen at lower elevations do not live on the top of the escarpment.
Hanging Valley camp (#4)
Sunrise on day five was a surprise as we hiked with our rain gear to reach a viewpoint
Matthias found his own mountain for sunrise, I joined him later on while he was still hard at work
The Mweni Cutback
Alex did some time lapse work here with his setup that he carried throughout the trek
Our group walking towards the Rockeries
The Rockeries camp (#5)
We had another beautiful sunrise before our descent down Rockeries Pass
It was a steep walk down the pass, two days are usually needed to climb up this way
The two day Harkerville Coast trail was my favorite of the ocean treks
A rugged coastline that must be hiked with at least two people for safety concerns I believe, twisting an ankle out here could mean no rescue for days. I hired a guide to meet the two person requirement
Chains, ladders and boulder hopping
The huts were empty, the reward for the extra effort
The Dolphin trail is the slackpacking route along the Tsitsikamma coast. The lodges are highlight here. The cheaper alternative is the popular Otter Trail, but bookings must be made 18 months in advance which is rather difficult for non-locals.
The Dolphin Trail starts at the Storms River camp
Baboons know their way around camp, all smiles when they find the perfect treat
Storms River Suspension Bridge
The trail has two days of hiking and three nights at lodges, the first hiking day is mostly through the forest on high ground. We saw snakes, monkeys and more baboons
Ruth found a porcupine quill
The lodge had a golf course, this elevated green made out of concreate gave me a good deal of trouble
The lodges would cook breakfast and dinner, the rooms were bigger than my apartment
I preferred the second day of hiking, the trail was along the coast
We found a perfect swimming hole. The Swiss girls were afraid of the ocean so I swam alone
Robberg Nature Preserve
The first half of the hike along the eastern side was hot with no wind and smelled bad from all the seals
Then the hike gets better when you turn the corner at "The Point"
"The Island" is the best spot near the end of the loop. There is a beach here where you can cool off.
The western side of South Africa was noticeably browner along the Garden Route Highway. Bush fires and shack fires in the city of Cape Town were happening from the high winds and dry conditions
The highway was shut down from a fire, they also cancelled the city cycling tour that weekend
I gave up on any plans of hiking in Cape Town due to the smog, but did visit Boulder Beach to see the African penguins.