Off the Beaten Track in the Southern Berg 

The Southern Drakensberg may not be as spectacular as the Northern Berg, but wow there are some incredible places to explore in the foothills. The “Low Berg” as it’s known is the lower part of the escarpment which is mainly made up of Sandstone as opposed to the Basalt which makes up the “High Berg”. There are literally hundreds of spectacular sandstone gorges in the Low Berg and most of them don’t have a hiking trail.

This weekend we stayed at Drakensberg Gardens with friends who booked a cottage through their timeshare. I’m not a big one for these large resorts, but the mountains on the doorstep more than made up for that. It was far to windy to consider fishing, so it was a weekend of scrambling up gulleys and running along high ridges which is as much fun as fishing for me.

I have explored most of the hidden valleys and climbed most of the peaks in the area. This is the part of the Berg that I know best, but there’s still so much to discover. I did one walk alone on Saturday morning  early, then a picnic with family and friends, and then a 4 am hike with my (not-so-old) man on this morning. This mornings hike was undoubtedly the cherry on top.  Enjoy the pics. They were taken with my Canon Powershot G16 and no editing was done. It definitely helps being in the mountains at first light.

Walking up the Mlambonja River at first light.
Just below Pillar cave, the Mlambonja River splits. I hacked a track up the left branch as I had never explored the valley before.
Looking up the valley. I saw no fish in this stream, but then neither did I see any down in the main stream.
I noticed a huge overhang/cave up on the mountain above me, so I just had to climb up and inspect.
This Panorama was taken with my cellphone. This is definitely the most spectacular view I have ever seen from any cave in the Low Berg. The cave isn’t on the map, and there’s no sign of it being used by hikers, and no Bushman paintings.
Hiking up the Mlambonja River for a morning picnic.
Olli learning to rock hop and throw stones.
The peaks to the North of the Mlambonja Valley.
After an hour an a half of walking we were now half way up the Low Berg as the sun came up. Dad looking down into the Thukelana River Valley, which is the valley to the north of Drak Gardens.
I decided to take the scenic route and climb to the top of the ridge. The plan was to keep in line of sight with dad and then I would meet him back down on the lower ridge and we would head home. The plan didn’t work out. I climbed higher than I planned, and dad was now too far below me to see him in his camouflaged outfit. Who could blame me when I got to the top of the first ridge and then I saw this open expanse ahead of me! So both of us went on a scenic rout of our choice and had a fantastic hike.
Looking back down from where I came from.
The wind was blowing so hard through this gulley that I could hardly walk upright!
The view that greeted me as I looked North East towards Hodgsons Peaks in the distance.
Looking West from the top of the top of the ridge. The Rhino is the peak on the right of the picture.
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Looking South over towards the Parksboard offices which are at the base of the middle distance sandstone cliffs
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Everlastings in flower on the firebreak.
That’s the gulley I scrambled down.
On the way down this was another hidden valley that looked like it needed exploring, but I needed to get back and find dad.
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Morning light on the way up to the top of the ridge. I followed that path to the top. Its not a hiking trail, just one used by Eland and other animals.
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Looking back up towards the Rhino.
Looking back up at where I came from. I was on top of the ridge to the right of the Rhino Peak.
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2 Comments

    1. Pity yes! However I was out in the hills at 4 and back by 8. Then the rest of the day was family time;)
      Did u guys climb up to the top of swiman up some of those big cliffs? It must have some epic climbs!

      Like

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